Donald Trump's presidential election victory has already been cheered by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a constellation of right-wing European populists, a former Ku Klux Klan leader and a Middle Eastern strongman. But there's another curious constituency that seems to be happy about the new American president-elect.
Shortly after Trump was declared the victor, a number of prominent Salafist ideologues linked to jihadist outfits in the Middle East took to social media to cheer the prospect of a Trump presidency.
The remarks signaled the militants' apparent belief that the victory of a candidate like Trump, who has suggested potentially unconstitutional blocks on Muslim immigration and advocated torture, undermines the United States' moral standing in the world.
Social-media sites associated with both the Islamic State and al-Qaeda also hailed Trump’s success as the beginning of “dark times” for the United States, marked by domestic unrest and new foreign military campaigns that would sap the strength of the American superpower.
"Rejoice with support from Allah, and find glad tidings in the imminent demise of America at the hands of Trump,” said the Islamic State-affiliated al-Minbar Jihadi Media network, one of several jihadi forums to post commentaries on the results of the U.S. election.
"Trump’s win of the American presidency will bring hostility of Muslims against America as a result of his reckless actions, which show the overt and hidden hatred against them,” continued the essay, provided by the SITE Intelligence group, a private organization that monitors jihadists’ web sites.
Al-Minbar is among several jihadist-lined online publications that sought to capitalize on Trump’s controversial statements about Muslim during the election campaign, saying that the alienation of ordinary Muslims is key to their recruitment of foreign fighters. Dabiq, the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, said its terrorist campaign in Europe was intended to spark an anti-Muslim backlash by Western governments that would force European Muslims to choose sides.
A pro-a-Qaeda al-Maqalaat Twitter account predicted that Trump would “make the U.S. Enemy No. 1 again” in the Muslim Middle East.
“Trump will serve as the perfect straw man for the next four years, like Bush did before him,” it said.
Now News, a Lebanese English-language website, aggregated a series of other comments from noted Salafist ideologues.
"Trump’s victory is a powerful slap to those promoting the benefits of democratic mechanisms,” tweeted Hamza al-Karibi, a media spokesman for Syrian jihadist group Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, which was formerly affiliated with al-Qaeda before rebranding itself this year in a bid to avoid being targeted by both Russian and American airstrikes.
Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a jihadist ideologue linked to al-Qaeda who has close to 60,000 followers on Twitter, gloated about Trump's victory, suggesting that it "may be the beginning of America’s fragmentation and the era of its breakup." In a second tweet, he said that Trump "reveals the true mentality of the Americans, and their racism toward Muslims and Arabs and everything. He reveals what his predecessors used to conceal. So his victory further exposes America and its appendages.”
“Have you seen how pleasant a society it is!” tweeted another Salafist-jihadist mainstay, Abu Qatada al-Filastini, who was deported from Britain in 2014, to tens of thousands of followers. “This is the American society that [supposedly] opposes its leaders’ policies by not hating or disdaining the world, and then it votes by the millions for Trump!”
The reaction of these extremists is the reverse of some of the consternation aired in the United States by Trump's critics, who see in his demagogic rise the unraveling of the American republic and the collapse of the myth of American exceptionalism.
Farther east, in Afghanistan, a spokesman for the Taliban used language not out of place among the ultra-nationalist, populist movements in Europe that aligned themselves with Trump's campaign, oppose immigration and, sometimes, agitate against intervening in conflicts elsewhere.
“Our message is that the Americans should draft a policy not to take away the independence and sovereignty of other nations,” the militant group said in a statement Wednesday. “Most importantly, they should withdraw all their troops from Afghanistan.”
-- with reporting from Joby Warrick
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