Homeland Security

How al-Qaeda and ISIS Have Been Weighing in on Our Presidential Election

If some countries are taking a vested interest in tinkering with the U.S. presidential election, terror groups have been generally taking a hands-off approach to next week’s vote.

After all, al-Qaeda reasoned, the next occupant of the White House is six of one and half a dozen of the other to them.

In its mid-May issue of the English-language Inspire magazine, after Donald Trump had secured enough votes for the GOP nomination, editor-in-chief Yahya Ibrahim noted that “today America is in a season of presidential elections, which will define the winning party to the presidency.”

“This may cause a slight difference to the American citizens but for us it is still the same story; this is because between a foolish candidate that openly declare[s] his enmity towards Islam and a candidate pretending to be a friend of Islam, thousands of Muslims continue to die as a result of the inhuman American policies in Islamic lands,” Ibrahim wrote for the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula publication.

“After America failed to impose its direct domination and rule under the excuse of countering terrorism. And after America was exhausted in fighting many wars with Islamic groups. And after realizing that it is losing a battle rather than winning, they began to think of making arrangements on how to retreat from our lands ‘safely.’ America found that the best way to achieve this is by igniting the region with sectarian wars.”

Ibrahim decried “the dirty politics of America, led by the Democratic Party under the leadership of Obama.”

“And on the other hand we have the Republicans, who openly kill, fight and declare enmity towards Islam under the banner of the crusade,” the editor continued. “The Democrats smile at the Muslims while stabbing them at their backs.”

In a separate article, former Guantanamo inmate Ibrahim al-Qosi, who was transferred back to his home country Sudan in 2012 and joined AQAP two years later, wrote that 9/11 changed American politics “with regards to strengthening the rightist, white, racial and widespread-armed militias who are weary of the federal government internal and external policies.”

“These militias who think that the federal government in Washington does not serve the interest of the general white Anglo-Saxon American community of the protestant Christianity denomination,” al-Qosi added. “In addition to that they see the federal government serve the interests of the Jews and other minorities whom, according to them, must be curbed and get rid from power.”

The rest of AQAP’s Inspire publications throughout campaign season have been guides with practical tips for jihadists after the Orlando and Nice attacks, as well as a special issue about France banning the burkini on beaches.

There was no October surprise from ISIS in an attempt to influence the election; the ground offensive by coalition forces to recapture Mosul began mid-month, which could spark global revenge attacks. But the terror group’s official communications are centered around Mosul right now.

The Al-Battar Media Foundation, an ISIS-affiliated media outlet originating from a Tunisian-led elite ISIS Libyan unit, issued a statement after the June attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando slamming Muslims who fear “infidel Trump winning the presidency.”

“The sincere believer is not afraid of the head of infidel America, but is struggling as the almighty Allah commanded him, and waits for the victory of Allah… the blessed battle has made the infidels [feel] horror and fear and panic,” the statement said.

In the July issue of ISIS’ Dabiq magazine, an article titled “Why We Hate You: And Why We Fight You” criticized “American politicians” who “were quick to jump into the spotlight and denounce” the nightclub massacre by Omar Mateen, “declaring it a hate crime, an act of terrorism, and an act of senseless violence.”

“Many Westerners, however, are already aware that claiming the attacks of the mujahidin to be senseless and questioning incessantly as to why we hate the West and why we fight them is nothing more than a political act and a propaganda tool,” the article stated. “The politicians will say it regardless of how much it stands in opposition to facts and common sense just to garner as many votes as they can for the next election cycle.”

That same issue featured a photo of the headstone of Capt. Humayun Khan — the slain son of Khizr Khan, Democratic National Convention speaker and lately on the campaign trail for Hillary Clinton — with the caption, “Beware of dying as an apostate.”

An August Foreign Affairs analysis of unofficial ISIS communications on social media and Telegram channels found jihadists favoring a Trump presidency largely for the expected spike in terrorist recruitment.