After President Donald Trump held a rambling press conference announcing the death of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Sunday and falsely claimed that he had called for Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s death before 9/11, The Hill has repeated his lie at least 10 times on its Twitter feed.
During his announcement, Trump claimed that he had written in one of his books before 9/11 that the U.S. “better kill” bin Laden, saying, “Nobody listened to me. … I made a prediction — let's put it this way, if they would have listened to me, a lot of things would have been different”:
I wrote a book, a really very successful book and in that book about a year before the World Trade Center was blown up, I said there is somebody named Osama bin Laden, you better kill him or take him out, something to that effect, he's big trouble. … And nobody heard of al-Baghdadi. And no one heard of Osama bin Laden until really the World Trade Center. But about a year, a year and a half before the World Trade Center, before the book came out, I was talking about Osama bin Laden, you have to kill him, you have to take him out. Nobody listened to me. And to this day I get people coming up to me and they said you know what, one of the most amazing things I've seen about you is that you predicted that Osama bin Laden had to be killed before he knocked down the World Trade Center. It's true. Most of the press doesn't want to write that but it is true. If you go back and look at my book, I think it's 'The America We Deserve.' I made a prediction — let's put it this way, if they would have listened to me, a lot of things would have been different.
The claim was utterly false.
An Associated Press fact check following Trump’s press conference explained further how the president’s claim was false:
THE FACTS: It's not true.
His 2000 book, “The America We Deserve,” makes a passing mention of bin Laden but did no more than point to the al-Qaida leader as one of many threats to U.S. security. Nor does he say in the book that bin Laden should have been killed.
The book did not call for further U.S. action against bin Laden or al-Qaida to follow up on attacks Clinton ordered in 1998 in Afghanistan and Sudan after al-Qaida bombed the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
In passages on terrorism, Trump's book does correctly predict that the U.S. was at risk of a terrorist attack that would make the 1993 World Trade Center bombing pale by comparison. That was a widespread concern at the time, as Trump suggested in stating “no sensible analyst rejects this possibility.”
Still, Trump did not explicitly tie that threat to al-Qaida and thought an attack might come through a miniaturized weapon of mass destruction, like a nuclear device in a suitcase or anthrax.
CNN and Axios also pointed out in their Twitter feeds that Trump’s claims about bin Laden were false.