Donald Trump: President Obama “founded ISIS” https://t.co/RKuyykPMxn
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 11, 2016
Donald Trump still holds a few rallies on any given day because the dude can’t take a break. Not even the second-consecutive worst week of his campaign can prompt the guy to rest. He’s got tenacity, for sure, and on Wednesday night in Sunrise, Florida, the real estate mogul managed to not deliver a disastrous shoutout to his “2nd Amendment people.” All of his surrogates are racing around to various talk shows to explain his assassination quip, which takes the pressure off the Republican nominee and allows him to do what he does best — perform.
Trump’s always in his element in front of a live audience, and he switched subjects while attacking President Obama and Hillary Clinton. He openly declared “Barack Hussein Obama” to be the creator of the Islamic State:
“In many respects, you know, they honor President Obama. ISIS is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He is the founder of ISIS, okay? He’s the founder! He founded ISIS! … And I would say, the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton. Co-founder! Crooked Hillary Clinton! And that’s what it’s about!”
Well, when Trump says something four times, he definitely means business. This isn’t a new accusation from him, and Trump’s stance is actually similar to the way Bernie Sanders used to hammer Clinton. During a PBS debate, Sanders railed against Clinton for creating a “political vacuum” by helping to “overthrow dictators all over the world” while she was secretary of state. This included Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and Sanders’ criticism was that these acts helped ISIS flourish in that country.
Trump has oversimplified this argument and tweaked the timeline. He believes Obama birthed ISIS by pulling troops out of Iraq. But the Islamic State’s genesis stems from earlier origins than Trump appears to realize. What’s now known as ISIS began as the al-Qaeda affiliate in Iraq in the early aughts, before Obama was president and Clinton was secretary of state. And this group launched a sectarian war in Iraq and (later) began to establish roots in Syria. The group eventually rebranded as ISIS, and the organization’s spillage into Syria was spurred on as the country’s civil war started under dictator Bashar al-Assad.
So, the Islamic State was doing its thing long before Obama and Clinton rolled into town. And the recognized “founder” of ISIS was actually Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who was killed by a U.S. airstrike in 2006. Yet Trump’s using his own timeline — and one that he seems to share with spokesperson Katrina Pierson, who also blamed Obama and Clinton for U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan’s 2004 death in Iraq — to paint his own portrait. But as we’ve seen, Trump’s not one for details when it comes to foreign policy.
The complicated history of ISIS is impossible to summarize in a few paragraphs. It becomes an even sillier display for a presidential candidate to sum up in a few words while assuming the group didn’t begin until Obama took office. And Trump’s obviously taking a birther dig at Obama and highlighting perceived Muslim sympathies by emphasizing his middle name, but Obama was born in the U.S. and is a Christian.
UPDATE: Trump “clarified” his statements on conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt’s radio show this morning.