The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group echoed Donald Trump’s comments that President Obama founded ISIS over the weekend. At a rally in southern Lebanon, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told supporters that Trump’s statements prove that Obama and Hillary Clinton founded the terrorist group.
“This is an American presidential candidate,” Nasrallah said. “This was spoken on behalf of the American Republican Party. He has data and documents.”
According to the Associated Press, Nasrallah previously sent thousands of his fighters to Syria to fight ISIS alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and has said before that he believes U.S. leaders are to blame for the rise of Islamic extremism and instability in the Middle East. Hezbollah is a Shiite militant organization and ISIS, their staunch adversary, is Sunni.
“Who can imagine that the U.S. can’t know who is behind sending money and arms to the terrorists in Syria and Iraq?” Nasrallah said.
Hezbollah chief Nasrallah approvingly quotes Trump: "Even the Republican leader said Obama and Clinton founded ISIS" pic.twitter.com/BwLltOPVu9— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) August 13, 2016
The U.S. government officially labeled Hezbollah as a global terrorist organization in 1995 after several incidents including the bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut and the U.S. Marine barracks in 1983.
Trump recently said his comments were sarcastic, but Nasrallah’s endorsement of them is no laughing matter.
On Fox News Sunday, Indiana governor Mike Pence said Trump was serious when he said Obama and Clinton deserve the MVP award as the co-founders of ISIS.
“I think he was being very serious. He was making a point that needs to be made, that there is no question that the failed policies of President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in the wider Middle East, created a vacuum within Iraq in which ISIS was able to arise.”
When conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt interviewed Trump, he tried to clarify that the Republican nominee meant to say Obama’s failed policies created the vacuum in the Middle East, where ISIS gained power, but Trump quickly cut him off.
“No, I meant he’s the founder of ISIS,” Trump reiterated.
One day after clarifying his statement to Hewitt, Trump insisted he was being sarcastic.
Ratings challenged @CNN reports so seriously that I call President Obama (and Clinton) "the founder" of ISIS, & MVP. THEY DON'T GET SARCASM?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2016
In an effort to clarify Trump’s use of sarcasm, Pence told Fox News anchor, Chris Wallace, that his running mate was trying to make an important point.
“Donald Trump has a way of talking to get people’s attention, and it’s drawn attention to a very important issue. There was a time when a Democrat president knew where the buck stopped in the White House. And the responsibility for the failed policies in the Middle East that created the environment where ISIS developed belongs to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the American people know that.”
Trump has received praise from controversial foreign leaders before.
In December, the Washington Post reported Russian President Vladimir Putin called Trump a talented leader during a press conference.
“He’s a very lively man, talented without doubt,” Putin said. “He’s saying he wants to go to another level of relations — closer, deeper relations with Russia. How can we not welcome that? Of course we welcome that.”
Trump was also praised by North Korean officials after saying, if elected, he would pull U.S. troops from South Korea if Seoul failed to pay more for their presence. The New York Times reported in June that North Korean officials voiced their support for Trump in an article published in the community newspaper Rodong Sinmun.
“The tragedy is that the South’s authorities are incapable of feeling any national shame, no matter how their American masters subject them to an unbearable humiliation. Their attitude is best shown by the way they got scared by Trump’s comments and groveled.”
Even though Trump insists he was being sarcastic — as the Republican nominee — his words still travel around the world. Another example of this would be the multiple reports that Trump has appeared in ISIS recruitment videos and propaganda. Maybe Trump learned his lesson the hard way that saying things like “Obama founded ISIS” probably does more harm than good when those words get the stamp of approval by the world’s most contentious figures.
[Photo by Salah Malkawi/Getty Images]