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During the second 2016 presidential debate Sunday night, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton claimed that “what Donald Trump says about Muslims is used to recruit fighters.”
Fact-Check: MOSTLY FALSE
While one video published by the Al Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab in Somalia uses video of Trump calling for a “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States,” Trump is largely absent from Al Qaeda, Islamic State, Hamas, and Hezbollah propaganda – the major jihadist groups who expend resources on producing propaganda to recruit fighters.
Much of the propaganda released by one of the most active jihadist groups in the world, the Islamic State, focuses largely on the Quranic theme of jihad (“holy war”) and cites both the Quran and the Islamic documents known as hadiths. At one time, half of the propaganda the group published sold potential recruits on constructing a jihadist utopia in Syria and Iraq. Much of the media that does not touch on the benefits of living in a society cleansed of infidels instead depicts graphic executions, including some performed by children, intended to intimidate the Western world.
One exception is a video in which an image of Bill Clinton captioned “fornicator” is used as a rallying cry to destroy America, “a secular state built on man-made laws whose soldiers fight for the interests of legislators, liars, fornicators, corporations, and for the freedom of Sodomites.”
The rise of groups like the Islamic State – formerly Al Qaeda in Iraq – has been fueled significantly by the growing chaos in the Middle East that followed the implementation of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy since 2008. The Obama White House’s approach to the Arab Spring, the Syrian Civil War, the fall of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, the Houthi uprising in Yemen, and the teenaged war in Afghanistan have all left significant power vacuums from which jihadist groups have benefitted greatly – not just the Islamic State, but formerly moribund jihadist groups like Al Qaeda. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was critical in implementing these policies.