Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump attends a campaign rally at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida August 11, 2016. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
WASHINGTON ― GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump wasn’t the first one to make his now partially retracted claim that President Barack Obama and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton co-founded the self-proclaimed Islamic State ― Vladimir Putin and others hostile to the United States have been making similar claims for a while now.
Putin blamed the United States for ISIS, as the militant group is also known, repeatedly at a meeting of the United Nations last year, in a speech and a question-and-answer session.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev made similar remarks late last year, although both Russian leaders sounded more measured in their comments than Trump, placing more blame on U.S. policies for fostering ISIS than on Obama personally.
But another Russian, Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the fractious region of Chechnya, was more direct.
“Today, no one doubts the fact that this group has been spawned by America and other Western countries in order to spark hatred of Islam in the hearts of people all over the planet, to stop the process of mass conversion to Islam,” Kadyrov posted on his Instagram page in February of last year.
Kadyrov was nominated to his post by Putin.
Trump now says he was just being sarcastic with his ISIS comment.
At least one Democrat in Congress noticed that Trump had used anti-U.S. propaganda for two days, and suggested that even if Trump were joking, it is still a problem.
“Donald Trump continued what has been a series of statements at odds with U.S. national security interests by now suggesting that President Obama and Secretary Clinton founded ISIS,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. “While this statement seems merely preposterous to most Americans, it is in fact deeply damaging to America’s interests as it plays into a narrative told by our enemies ― that America created ISIS as a means of turning Muslim against Muslim and weakening Islamic nations and peoples.”
Schiff also noted the connection to Putin, whom Trump has found to be praiseworthy.
“This destructive conspiracy theory has also been advanced by the Kremlin, and Donald Trump’s adoption of Russia’s talking points damages our country and makes the fight against ISIS more difficult,” Schiff said.