The crossfire between the two leading presidential candidates intensified Monday, as Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign stood by her claim that Republican front-runner Donald Trump’s rhetoric is being used as propaganda by terrorist groups, though there is no evidence Islamic State has put him in videos.
Mrs. Clinton said in the Motzoei Shabbos Democratic debate that Mr. Trump “is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter,” and that he was being used in videos. Mr. Trump angrily denied the former secretary of state’s charge and demanded an apology from her. The Clinton campaign refused to provide one, pointing to comments from several counterterrorism experts and social media posts by terror groups to support the claims.
The spat across party lines represents a new phase in the presidential campaign for Mrs. Clinton, who has begun to sharpen her attacks on her Republican rivals, with Mr. Trump emerging as a top target.
Experts who study terrorism say the evidence is not there that Mr. Trump, who urged a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. and mosque surveillance after the Paris and California attacks, has been a specific focus in terrorism recruitment and propaganda to date.
“The claim that ISIS has featured Trump in its videos is untrue, to the best of my knowledge,” said J.M. Berger, a terrorism researcher and fellow at the Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World at the Brookings Institution in Washington. “They do talk about him and his comments on social media, as a vindication of their views on how the West treats Muslims, but so far, not in an organized or overwhelming way.”
In the debate, Mrs. Clinton said Mr. Trump’s comments were also reinforcing the narrative of a Western war on Islam. “They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists,” she said. Read more at the Wall Street Journal.