Donald Trump on Wednesday claimed the 9/11 hijackers would have been barred from entering the United States if his proposed ban on Muslim immigration had been in place.
“Those people that knocked down the World Trade Center, most likely, under the Trump policy, wouldn’t have been here to knock down the World Trade Center,” the Republican presidential nominee told a crowd in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks killed nearly 3,000 people and set off a decade of American conflicts in the Middle East.
Trump’s comments seemed to willfully ignore the fact that prior to the 2001 attacks, the United States had few reasons to weigh any kind of policy to limit immigration from the Middle East due to fears of terrorism.
What exactly Trump meant by “the Trump policy” is unclear, and a spokeswoman did not respond to The Huffington Post’s request for clarification.
Trump has, at various times, promised strikingly different immigration policies. They include a blanket ban on all travel to the United States by the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims, which he proposed early in his campaign; a ban on immigration to the United States by citizens of countries which export terrorism abroad, a position he adopted earlier this year; and lastly, a much stricter screening process for citizens from “dangerous countries,” primarily Syria.
This last proposal seems to stop well short of the blanket bans he was fond of promising last year. It would also seem to exempt the countries the 9/11 hijackers hailed from, namely Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Lebanon.
Earlier this year, Trump said the United States would protect Saudi Arabia in a hypothetical regional conflict, telling Bill O’Reilly, “I would want to protect Saudi Arabia. But Saudi Arabia is going to have to help us economically.”
Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are longstanding U.S. allies in the Middle East, and Trump has pledged to protect U.S. allies fighting terrorism. One of Trump’s top foreign policy advisers, Walid Phares, hails from Lebanon, where he has ties to one of the country’s most controversial pro-Christian political parties.