- Thomson Reuters
In a strangely worded tweet, Donald Trump on Wednesday promoted a conspiracy theory that the Obama administration supported the Iraqi terrorist group that eventually morphed into the Islamic State, the group also known as ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh.
In reference to the recent terrorist attack in Orlando, Florida, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee suggested this week that Obama either “doesn’t get it, or he gets it better than anybody understands,” which many interpreted as implying that President Barack Obama was sympathetic to ISIS.
Trump took it up a notch on Wednesday, sharing a Breitbart story with the headline “Hillary Clinton Received Secret Memo Stating Obama Admin ‘Support’ for ISIS.”
He followed it up with a tweet saying, “The press is so totally biased that we have no choice but to take our tough but fair and smart message directly to the people!”
The Breitbart story said that Clinton, now the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, “received a classified intelligence report stating that the Obama administration was actively supporting Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group that became the Islamic State.”
Breitbart quoted a source as saying the 2012 memo came from someone within the Defense Intelligence Agency and included “reporting from the field by an intelligence agent.” The news outlet also said “the report identifies Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) as being one of the principal elements of the Syrian opposition, which the West was choosing to ‘support.'”
The “secret memo” Breitbart referred to is an intelligence information report.
Michael Pregent, a former US Army intelligence officer who served as an embedded military adviser in Iraq, explained what this is.
“I wrote [intelligence information reports] as an intelligence officer in Iraq – they were based on interviews with sources,” Pregent, who is now an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, told Business Insider in an email. “This IIR is based on an interview with a source. This is not someone putting their career on the line.”
Intelligence information reports are the “lowest weighted” type of intelligence report in the intelligence community, Pregent said.
“The NSA and CIA reports are weighted higher,” Pregent said. “I doubt this IIR was read by anyone at the Obama or Clinton level.”
Breitbart is a right-wing website that often shares outlandish stories with little to no basis in fact. One reason the Breitbart story doesn’t make much sense is that Al Qaeda in Iraq was absorbed into the umbrella group called the Islamic State of Iraq before Obama took office in 2009.
A representative for House Speaker Paul Ryan did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Business Insider. Neither did a representative for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
While the US has supported some rebel groups in Syria, Obama administration support has largely been limited to rebel groups that are fighting ISIS and Al Qaeda.
There have been conspiracy theories going around about the US supporting or creating ISIS, but these are unsubstantiated. The US did not support Al Qaeda in Iraq, a group that, before its evolution into ISIS, targeted US troops during the Iraq War.
Nevertheless, many in the Middle East believe that the US created or supports ISIS, and it’s fueling anti-American sentiment in the region.