Jun 29, 2024

The Presidential Debate: Trump’s bogus claim on terrorism

The topic of terrorism played an unusually large role in this presidential debate, with former President Donald Trump making inaccurate or misleading claims. Early on, Trump attacked Biden on immigration by claiming that the US is currently seeing the largest number of terrorists coming into the country — a misleading claim that also ignores the fact that the vast majority of the “encounters” by US Border Patrol agents with people on the terrorism watch list in 2023 took place at the northern border with Canada. Later on, Trump did correctly point out that as president, he authorized the operations that killed the founder and leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force, Major General Qassem Soleimani. But Trump then went on to make a bogus claim (one he has made before) that there was “no terror” during his administration. This one is a real whopper. There were several people charged with terrorism during his presidency. Notably, in October 2017, an Uzbek man carried out a terrorist attack in Manhattan by using a rented truck to fatally strike eight people on a bike path. It’s also worth pointing out that Trump seems to have a major blind spot when it comes to right-wing domestic terrorism that took place on his watch. In 2019, a 21-year-old White man touted xenophobic and White supremacist beliefs online just minutes before he targeted Latino shoppers at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas. He killed 23 people in what was the most lethal right-wing terrorist attack in decades, according to the research institution New America. And, of course, the most spectacular act of domestic terrorism in decades took place at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. Some 140 police officers were assaulted while Trump failed to put a stop to it for hours while it unfolded. If elected, Trump has promised to pardon a “large portion” of the rioters — a point that Biden also reminded viewers of during the debate. Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America, a professor of practice at Arizona State University, and the host of the podcast “In the Room.”