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Trump quote used for al-Shabab recruitment video and new campaign ad

U.S. presidential hopeful and billionaire Donald Trump was featured in two videos released this week. One is his campaign’s first TV advertisement; the other is a recruitment tool for Somali terror group al-Shabab. Both videos are heavy on Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric, which includes a call for a temporary ban on all Muslims entering the U.S.

“Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what the hell is going on,” reads Trump from a prepared statement in the clip used by al-Shabab.

The 51-minute al-Shabab video urges people to join the terror group in response to increased rhetoric and action in the U.S. against blacks and Muslims. Trump’s clip is preceded by a speech by former al-Qaida recruiter Anwar al-Awlaki, in which he predicted that the U.S. would turn against Muslims. The Yemeni-American cleric was killed by a drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

“They use other people, too,” said Trump to John Dickerson of CBS when asked what he thought of al-Shabab using his quote in its video. “What am I gonna do? I have to say what I have to say. And you know what I have to say? There’s a problem. We have to find what is the problem and we have to solve that problem.”

Trump sums up what he has to say in his first TV campaign ad. Muslims, the Islamic State and illegal immigration are the three leading issues, according to the campaign. The announcer says, over video footage of drone strikes, Islamic State propaganda photos, and images of immigrants atop trains in Mexico:

The politicians can pretend it’s something else, but Donald Trump calls it radical Islamic terrorism. That’s why he’s calling for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until we can figure out what’s going on. He’ll quickly cut the head off ISIS and take their oil. And he’ll stop illegal immigration by building a wall on our southern border that Mexico will pay for.

The opening lines play on the idea that leaders like President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton downplayed the terrorist connections in the San Bernardino shooting, early last month. And it continues to re-up the exact phrasing used earlier by the campaign, which is featured in the al-Shabab recruiting video.

Trump, the leading contender for the Republican presidential primary as measured by national polls, was widely criticized for his call to stop the entry of all Muslims in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting. Members of both major political parties voiced disagreement with Trump, including Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. But his campaign poll numbers have not suffered from the disagreement. Trump still holds a sizable lead in New Hampshire, is a close second in Iowa, and leads nationally.

Clinton suggested in mid-December that Trump’s comments would aid terrorist recruitment.

“He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists,” she said during a Democratic primary debate.

Trump hit back saying there was no evidence of such a claim. The Clinton team deflected and spun the quote to say that she meant his rhetoric could be used for recruitment. While she may have been wrong at the time, with the release of the al-Shabab video, she was right.


About Author

Tom Murphy

Tom Murphy is a New Hampshire-based reporter for Humanosphere. Before joining Humanosphere, Tom founded and edited the aid blog A View From the Cave. His work has appeared in Foreign Policy, the Huffington Post, the Guardian, GlobalPost and Christian Science Monitor. He tweets at @viewfromthecave. Contact him at tmurphy[at]