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Terrorism Expert Calls Out Donald Trump For Feeding ISIS Propaganda

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 22/03/2016 Nick Wing
ATHENA IMAGE © Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images ATHENA IMAGE

GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's calls for the torturing of terror suspects in the wake of attacks in Brussels play right into the hands of the self-described Islamic State, or ISIS, a U.S. terrorism expert said Tuesday.

Malcolm Nance, head of the Terrorism Asymmetrics Project and a former U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officer, pushed back against Trump's claim that he would have supported waterboarding Salah Abdeslam, the alleged plotter of last year's attacks in Paris, who was arrested in Belgium earlier this week.

"D onald Trump right now is  validating the cartoonish view  that [ISIS] tells their operatives  and that they tell their terrorists that the United S tates is a racist nation -- xenophobic , anti-Muslim -- and that  that's why you must carry out  terrorist attacks against them  in defense of their version of I slam," Vance told MSNBC.

Nance said such interrogation techniques would be considered war crimes, and that ISIS was "probably cutting videos" of Trump's comments to use for propaganda. He also argued that such interrogation wouldn't have produced any actionable intelligence -- torture rarely does -- because ISIS would have kept Abdeslam out of the loop after he was compromised in November.

"[Trump's rhetoric] is detrimental to the  counterterrorism and  anti-terrorism missions around  the world," continued Vance. "T here are intelligence officers  right now that are going to have  to contend with their partners  over what's being said during  the U.S. presidential race. It 's irresponsible and it needs  to stop."

Both Trump and rival GOP presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) have come under fire in the past for using rhetoric consistent with a supposed "clash of civilizations" -- the idea, often promoted by radical Islamic terrorists, that the West is locked in an existential battle with the Muslim world. Controversy over this language peaked in December, when Trump called for a "complete shutdown" of Muslims coming into the U.S., a proposal he took further on Tuesday when he said it was time to "close up our borders."

Terrorism experts have repeatedly warned lawmakers and other officials against pushing this ideology, arguing that demonizing Muslim refugees and promoting Islamophobia against American Muslims serves as a recruitment tool for extremists and alienates key allies in the fight against domestic terrorism.

On Tuesday, Cruz responded to the attacks in Brussels with a statement that managed to do both.

“We need to immediately halt the flow of refugees from countries with a significant al Qaida or ISIS presence,” Cruz said. “We need to empower law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighborhoods before they become radicalized. We need to secure the southern border to prevent terrorist infiltration. And we need to execute a coherent campaign to utterly destroy ISIS.”

The senator's comments about targeting Muslims in America drew condemnation from Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who responded flatly: “That’s not what we do in America.”

Editor's note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liarrampant xenophoberacistmisogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims -- 1.6 billion members of an entire religion -- from entering the U.S.

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