In recent days, Donald Trump has taken to calling President Obama the “founder” of ISIS, repeating the line at campaign rallies and in interviews, including one with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt where he insisted that he wasn’t speaking figuratively. Trump has also claimed that ISIS terrorists “honor Obama.”
Of course, Trump ignores the fact that ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, is the successor to the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq, which was established before Obama’s presidency, and ISI itself was created out of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Al-Qaeda in Iraq was the successor to a different terrorist group formed in 1999.
The GOP presidential nominee has particularly attacked Obama for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq after a status of forces agreement between the two countries expired, even though Trump himself called for a withdrawal of U.S. troops years earlier.
Trump’s insinuation that Obama had a hand in creating ISIS isn’t anything new, as he said back in June that when it comes to the issue of terrorism, Obama “doesn’t get it or he gets it better than anybody understands.”
He also has deployed one of his favorite rhetorical tools—a lot of people say—to suggest that Obama is a terrorist sympathizer: “Well there are a lot of people that think maybe he doesn’t want to get it. A lot of people think maybe he doesn’t want to know about it.”
Last year, Trump similarly stated that “a lot of people think” Obama has “evil intentions” when it comes to his plan to resettle Syrian refugees, who Trump says are “probably” members of ISIS.
“We can’t close our eyes,” he said while addressing terrorism at one campaign rally. “I don’t know what’s wrong with Obama, he wants to close his eyes and pretend it’s not happening. Why is he so emphatic on not solving the problem? There’s something we don’t know about. There’s something we don’t know about.”
Back in February, Trump said that “maybe [Obama] doesn’t want to get rid of the problem” of terrorism. “I don’t know exactly what’s going on.”
In 2014, Trump falsely claimed on Twitter that Obama was actively arming ISIS.
When Trump describes Obama as an ISIS sympathizer or its “founder,” it’s no gaffe—it’s what he has been saying throughout his campaign.