Jim Cole/AP

Clinton Says ISIS Is Using Trump as a Recruiting Tool. Is She Right?

A host of media reports corroborate her claim, save for one very specific detail.

Hil­lary Clin­ton said Sat­urday night dur­ing the Demo­crat­ic de­bate that Is­lam­ic State of Ir­aq and Syr­ia is us­ing Don­ald Trump’s com­ments about Muslim im­mig­ra­tion as a re­cruit­ing tool.

“He is be­com­ing IS­IS’s best re­cruit­er,” she said, dur­ing a dis­cus­sion about for­eign policy and the rise of IS­IS in the Middle East. “They are go­ing to people show­ing videos of Don­ald Trump in­sult­ing Is­lam and Muslims in or­der to re­cruit more rad­ic­al ji­hadists.”

It’s a weighty ac­cus­a­tion to call out Trump for un­in­ten­tion­ally aid­ing a ter­ror­ist or­gan­iz­a­tion, and it’s one that caught the eye of many on so­cial me­dia, lead­ing many to won­der if (and how) Clin­ton knew about IS­IS’s re­cruit­ing tech­niques.

Asked for com­ment, the Clin­ton cam­paign poin­ted to nu­mer­ous news re­ports and se­cur­ity ex­perts who noted that Trump’s com­ments are be­ing used by IS­IS. And in­deed, there seem to be plenty of know­ledge­able people who agree that Trump’s com­ments are be­ing used by IS­IS as a re­cruit­ing tool.

“They fol­low everything Don­ald Trump says,” Rita Katz of the SITE In­tel­li­gence Group, an or­gan­iz­a­tion that keeps tabs on the so­cial me­dia activ­it­ies of Is­lam­ic ter­ror­ist groups, told NBC News. “When he says, ‘No Muslims should be al­lowed in Amer­ica,’ they tell people, ‘We told you Amer­ica hates Muslims and here is proof.’”

That sen­ti­ment has been re­flec­ted widely by for­eign policy and na­tion­al se­cur­ity ex­perts and journ­al­ists: Dav­id Phil­lips, dir­ect­or of the Pro­gram on Peace-Build­ing and Rights at Columbia Uni­versity’s In­sti­tute for the Study of Hu­man Rights, told NBC that Trump’s com­ments “will surely be used by IS­IS so­cial me­dia to de­mon­ize the United States and at­tract re­cruits to fight in Ir­aq and Syr­ia.” And Ted Kop­pel,on ABC’s Night­line, called Trump IS­IS’s “re­cruit­er-in-chief.”

So in the big picture, Clinton’s comments fall in line with the view of many national security experts. What’s not clear, and what’s not referenced by any of the media accounts the Clinton camp provided, is whether the organization is specifically screening videos of the attacks—which a literal reading of Clinton’s comments would imply.