President Trump resurrected a dubious story about a renowned U.S. Army general’s handling of Muslim insurgents following Thursday’s terror attack in Barcelona, Spain.
“Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” he tweeted.
Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
During the 2016 presidential race, Trump frequently told a tale of how Pershing had Muslim prisoners in the Philippines executed with bullets coated in pig’s blood to discourage rebellion against American rule.
Similar rumors have been floating around the internet for years, but the website PolitiFact gave Trump’s claim “pants on fire” — the rating it gives the “most ridiculous falsehoods.”
Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager, said his team knew the story was a myth even when Trump told it in 2016 but decided to tell it at rallies anyway.
“It’s not about that,” he told The Washington Post in June 2016 following his ouster. “Look, it’s an analogy.”
Trump’s inflammatory Thursday tweet comes during a week he is facing fierce criticism over his response to last weekend’s deadly violence at a white supremacist rally Charlottesville, Va.
The president initially failed to single out neo-Nazis, the KKK and other groups that fomented the violence. After issuing a specific condemnation a day later, Trump said Tuesday that there is “blame on both sides."
The president explained his hesitance to blame white supremacists, telling reporters, "Before I make a statement, I like to know the facts."
One person was killed and 19 were injured when a car rammed into a group of counterprotesters during the rally. The alleged driver was a 20-year-old man with ties to white supremacist groups.
In Spain, authorities said at least 12 people were killed and more than 80 were injured when a van plowed into a crowd of people Thursday in a popular tourist area in Barcelona.
One suspect was arrested in the terror attack, a Moroccan citizen who was residing legally in Spain.
Trump made a more conventional statement condemning the Barcelona attack roughly half an hour before tweeting about Pershing.
"The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!" he tweeted.