U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) has repeatedly accused President Donald Trump of backing al-Qaeda, including during Wednesday’s Democrat debate.
Gabbard is one of several candidates vying for the Democrat nomination to run against Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
Echoing some of her previous comments during Wednesday’s debate on CNN, the Hawaii Democrat, who served in the Iraq war, declared:
The problem is that this current president is continuing to betray us. We were supposed to be going after al-Qaeda. But over years now, not only have we not gone after al-Qaeda, who is stronger today than they were in 9/11, but our president is supporting al-Qaeda.
She repeated that argument in defending her latest remarks in an interview with Fox News after the debate.
Gabbard reportedly cited Trump’s “support and alliance with Saudi Arabia that is both providing direct and indirect support directly to al-Qaeda.”
She added, “How can you say Saudi Arabia is a great partner in fighting terrorism when they are fueling and funding terrorist groups in Yemen?”
After the U.S. commander-in-chief vetoed a congressional resolution in April calling for an end of American support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, Gabbard accused Trump of prostituting the United States, the Washington Times noted.
President Trump is turning the nation “into the prostitute of Saudi Arabia,” she said in a video, adding:
By vetoing the war powers resolution, Trump has again proven that he is the servant of Saudi Arabia, the theocratic dictatorship that spends billions of dollars every single year spreading the most extreme and intolerant form of Islam around the world. The very same ideology that motivated al Qaeda and other jihadists.
The Democrat lawmaker voted in favor of the bipartisan resolution that invoked the war powers act and directed Trump to end U.S. military support for the war in Yemen within 30 days.
Congress approved the proposal, but Trump vetoed it, angering Gabbard and other lawmakers.
In his veto message, the president said, “There are no United States military personnel in Yemen commanding, participating in, or accompanying military forces of the Saudi‑led coalition against the Houthis in hostilities in or affecting Yemen.”
Gabbard, in defense of fellow member of Congress Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), who has made numerous comments since being elected in 2018 that some have interpreted as being too sympathetic to jihadist groups, has also accused Trump of supporting al-Qaeda.
Gabbard tweeted on April 14 after Trump attacked Omar, “It is Trump who’s been acting as al-Qaeda’s big brother and protector in Syria, and turned America into the prostitute of AQ’s biggest supporter—the Saudis”:
Trump’s criticism of Rep #IlhanOmar is complete hypocrisy. Trump says “WE WILL NEVER FORGET (9/11)!” Yet it is Trump who’s been acting as al-Qaeda’s big brother and protector in Syria, and turned America into the prostitute of AQ's biggest supporter—the Saudis #WeWillNeverForget pic.twitter.com/TLsCPxXaAd
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) April 14, 2019
On April 17, she added via Twitter:
By vetoing War Powers Act, Trump again proves he’s the servant of Saudi Arabia—the theocratic dictatorship spending billions spreading the most extreme & intolerant form of Islam around the world, supporting al-Qaeda & other jihadists, & waging genocidal war in Yemen w/U.S. help.
By vetoing War Powers Act, Trump again proves he’s the servant of Saudi Arabia—the theocratic dictatorship spending billions spreading the most extreme & intolerant form of Islam around the world, supporting al-Qaeda & other jihadists, & waging genocidal war in Yemen w/ US help pic.twitter.com/XsBy3EjhvW
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) April 17, 2019
On February 6, she also tweeted:
Trump says he is going to focus on counter-terrorism while simultaneously supporting/helping al-Qaeda and partnering with the Saudis, the actual leading state sponsors of terror, who spread the extremist ideology that fuels the likes of ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Trump says he is going to focus on counter-terrorism while simultaneously supporting/helping al-Qaeda and partnering with the Saudis, the actual leading state sponsors of terror, who spread the extremist ideology that fuels the likes of ISIS and al-Qaeda. https://t.co/6uhmBCUbJv
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) February 6, 2019
On the anniversary of 9/11 in 2018, the 2020 Democrat presidential candidate again claimed via Twitter:
While President Trump & V.P. [Mike] Pence give 9/11 speeches about how much they care about the victims of al-Qaeda’s attack on our country, they are simultaneously acting as protectors of A.Q. in Syria/Idlib, threatening Russia and Syria that if they attack al-Qaeda, we will punish them.
While President Trump & VP Pence give 9/11 speeches about how much they care about the victims of al-Qaeda’s attack on our country, they are simultaneously acting as protectors of AQ in Syria/Idlib, threatening Russia and Syria that if they attack al-Qaeda, we will punish them.
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) September 11, 2018
In December 2016, Gabbard told CNN that the U.S. was “funding both directly and indirectly groups that are working with al-Qaeda and ISIS [Islamic State].”
Former President Barack Obama was still in power at the time.
Gabbard said she told then-President-Elect Trump when they met in November of that year that the U.S. needs to stop supporting those groups through countries like Saudi Arabia:
Gabbard’s comments on Wednesday came on the same day that unnamed U.S. officials allegedly claimed that the son and potential successor of late al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, Hamza bin Laden, died in the last two years.
The officials would not provide any more details of how he died. Asked about the revelation, President Trump declined to comment.
Soon after taking office, Trump intensified the war against al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia, al-Shabaab, one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups. U.S. military airstrikes against al-Shabaab have reached historic levels under Trump, killing hundreds of jihadis.
After a nearly two-year hiatus, at the end of June, the U.S. military began to target the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, again considered one of the most potent wings of the international terrorist group.
The al-Qaeda affiliates control the last remaining terrorist stronghold in Syria.
In March, U.S.-backed local fighters destroyed the Islamic State’s (ISIS/ISIL) territory caliphate that once covered most of Iraq and Syria.
With the support of the U.S. military, Afghan forces also continue to target al-Qaeda in its long-time haven, Afghanistan.
In December 2017, U.S.-backed Afghan forces killed one of the highest level al-Qaeda leaders inside Afghanistan since the 9/11 attacks.
Under ongoing peace negotiations, the Trump administration has also requested Taliban assurances that it will not allow al-Qaeda to continue operating in Afghanistan. The two groups remain close nearly 18 years after the September 11 attacks, the United Nations recently reported.
In 2017, the Associated Press (AP) reported that the leader of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) outfit claimed to have fought alongside American troops.
U.S. officials once considered AQAP al-Qaeda’s most dangerous branch against the West.
In March 2017, Thomas Joscelyn, an expert at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), also indicated that the U.S. might inadvertently be backing al-Qaeda through its support for the Saudi-led coalition.
He testified before a Senate panel:
Some tribal leaders are closely allied with AQAP, so much so that they have been integrated into the organization’s infrastructure. This has led to an awkward situation in which some of AQAP’s leaders are also partnered with [U.S.-backed] Saudi Arabia [and] the United Arab Emirates [UAE] … in the war against the [Iran-allied Shiite] Houthis.
However, in June of this year, UAE troops asserted that they would continue fighting al-Qaeda in Yemen. The UAE is part of the Saudi-led coalition that has been fighting the Houthis in Yemen since March 2015 with the support of the United States.
Based on manpower strength and territory under its control, al-Qaeda has gotten stronger despite thousands of American service members killed and trillions of U.S. dollars spent on the war on terror since 9/11, years before Trump came into office.