Donald Trump has described President Barack Obama as “the founder of Isis”, and said his rival Hillary Clinton was the “co-founder” of the fundamentalist organisation as he intensified his attacks on the Democratic Party.
Mr Trump’s remarks came 24 hours after he generated widespread outrage by suggesting to supporters that shooting Ms Clinton may be the only way to stop her seeking gun controls.
Speaking at a rally in Sunrise, Florida, Mr Trump said: “We unleashed fury all over the Middle East and it was a terrible mistake. And then Obama came in and normally you want to clean up. He made a bigger mess out of it. He made such a mess. And then you had Hillary with Libya, so sad.”
Mr Trump then repeated his claim that the president had founded the jihadi militant organisation three times.
“In fact, in many respects, you know they honour President Obama, Isis is honouring President Obama. He is the founder of Isis. He is the founder of Isis. He’s the founder. He founded Isis.
“And I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton. Co-founder. Crooked Hillary Clinton.”
The crowd in Florida chanted “lock her up”, in agreement with the former reality TV star.
In addition to claiming Mr Obama had founded the Islamist group, Mr Trump referred to the president by his full name – Barack Hussein Obama – which critics have said is an attempt to imply that Mr Obama is a Muslim.
Mr Trump has previously suggested Mr Obama is a Muslim - a claim echoed by Mr Trump’s New York campaign co-chair Carl Paladino, who last week said of the president: “In the mind of the average American, there is no doubt he is a Muslim. He is not a Christian.”
It is not the first time Mr Trump has blamed the current US administration for the creation of Isis.
On 17 July, Mr Trump said: “Hillary Clinton invented Isis with her stupid policies.”
Earlier this month Mr Trump directly accused Ms Clinton of being “the devil”.
Formation of Isis
Isis has roots that go back more than a decade with early links to al-Qaeda. In 2006, the group joined a faction of militarised insurgents in Iraq to form the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).
Following Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s appointment as leader in 2010 and the outbreak of the Syrian civil war, the group established a large presence - eventually becoming known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (Isis), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
During Ms Clinton’s tenure, declassified US intelligence reports from 2012 have shown that “western countries, the Gulf states and Turkey” were supporting the Syrian opposition’s efforts to take control of eastern Syria, despite the risk of a “Salafist principality”, or caliphate, in eastern Syria and an al-Qaeda-controlled Islamic state in Syria and Iraq, the Guardian reported last year.
What this meant is that the US and other partners, including the UK, were arming and aiding opposition groups in Syria that were known to have extreme militant Islamist links. The extent to which this may have helped Isis is difficult to ascertain, but it certainly did not create the group.
The fact-checking website Politifact said the idea Ms Clinton was responsible for Isis is “mostly false”.
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