Hillary Clinton said Saturday night during the Democratic debate that Islamic State of Iraq and Syria is using Donald Trump’s comments about Muslim immigration as a recruiting tool.
“He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter,” she said, during a discussion about foreign policy and the rise of ISIS in the Middle East. “They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”
It’s a weighty accusation to call out Trump for unintentionally aiding a terrorist organization, and it’s one that caught the eye of many on social media, leading many to wonder if (and how) Clinton knew about ISIS’s recruiting techniques.
Asked for comment, the Clinton campaign pointed to numerous news reports and security experts who noted that Trump’s comments are being used by ISIS. And indeed, there seem to be plenty of knowledgeable people who agree that Trump’s comments are being used by ISIS as a recruiting tool.
"They follow everything Donald Trump says," Rita Katz of the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that keeps tabs on the social media activities of Islamic terrorist groups, told NBC News. "When he says, 'No Muslims should be allowed in America,' they tell people, 'We told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.'"
That sentiment has been reflected widely by foreign policy and national security experts and journalists: David Phillips, director of the Program on Peace-Building and Rights at Columbia University's Institute for the Study of Human Rights, told NBC that Trump’s comments "will surely be used by ISIS social media to demonize the United States and attract recruits to fight in Iraq and Syria.” And Ted Koppel, on ABC’s Nightline, called Trump ISIS’s “recruiter-in-chief.”
So in the big picture, Clinton’s comments fall in line with the view of many national security experts. What’s not clear, and what’s not referenced by any of the media accounts the Clinton camp provided, is whether the organization is specifically screening videos of the attacks—which a literal reading of Clinton’s comments would imply.
Trump’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
This article is from the archive of our partner National Journal.