Maybe Hillary Clinton doesn't need to apologize to Donald Trump after all. During the Democratic presidential debate last month, the Democratic frontrunner asserted that terrorist organizations had used footage of Donald Trump in their recruitment videos. Media outlets including CNN cried foul and Donald Trump demanded an apology from his chief rival when no examples could substantiate her claim. But a new video purportedly promoting African terrorist organization al-Shabab has surfaced featuring a clip of the GOP frontrunner touting his plan to bar Muslims from entering the United States.
"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 [bleep] is going on," Trump says in the footage commandeered by al-Shabab. ABC News noted that Al-Malahem Media, the production entity that ostensibly created the video, bleeps out Trump's use of the word "hell" in Trump's comments.
A 2015 profile of al-Shabab by BBC News indicated that the group originated as a youth-wing of a larger Somali militant organization in 2006. The militant group's members are adherents of political Islam and their fighting force is estimated at between 7,000 and 9,000 members. A number of terrorist attacks have been attributed to al-Shabab throughout Somalia and neighboring Kenya, and the group controls rural areas in Somalia. African Union forces have beaten back al-Shabab's control on urban centers over the course of recent years.
The Al-Shabab video also features footage Anwar al-Awlaki, a former United States citizen who was killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2011. It's worth noting that al-Awlaki was affiliated with terrorist group al-Qaeda, which was at the forefront of militant politicized Islam prior to the rise of ISIS.
ABC News reports that the al-Shabab propaganda video runs 51 minutes in total, noting that Trump's role is decidedly small. But while Trump's appearance in the footage signals awareness on the part of politicized Islam as to the incendiary value of Donald Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric, the development does not quite measure up to Hillary Clinton's pervious assertion that the Republican candidate is "becoming ISIS's best recruiter." For those willing to engage in a bit of political hair-splitting, al-Shabab is generally believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda, but not ISIS. While "fellow travelers" in the spheres of political Islam and terrorist tactics, the aforementioned terrorist organizations are not exactly on friendly terms.
Distinctions involving political nuances are not likely to impress Hillary Clinton's camp, though, who could easily point to the al-Shabab video as evidence that Donald Trump's controversial political narrative is ultimately benefitting America's enemies by stoking the flames of content and enmity. Given Trump's levels of bombast thus far – including a call to "bomb the sh*t out of ISIS" and put "boots on the ground" in Syria – the outspoken real estate mogul and aspiring chief executive is not likely to change his tone when it comes to his strategy against terrorism.
Hillary Clinton has exhibited her own penchant for bravado in the past, once boasting that the United States would "totally obliterate" Iran if necessary. Those remarks came in 2008 during her first campaign for president, as reported by Reuters. Clinton's plan to combat ISIS has somewhat restrained compared to her previous statements about Iran, as the former Secretary of State has instead focused upon airstrikes and selective use of special operations troops on the ground.
Neither Hillary Clinton, nor Donald Trump, have publicly commented on the al-Shabab video thus far. For his part, Donald Trump maintained focus upon his political rival during his Twitter session late Friday night, predicting that Hillary Clinton will be "swamped" if she faces Trump in the general election.
[Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images]