Trump cited a fictional story about turn-of-the-20th-century American Gen. John Pershing.
"Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught," Trump tweeted shortly after condemning the attack in Spain. "There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!"
Trump’s tweet referenced a dubious story about US Army General John Pershing’s handling of Muslim prisoners during the Moro Rebellion (1899–1913) in the Philippines. The rebellion was an armed conflict between Muslims and the United States military.
The tweet echoed a highly controversial claim Trump made at an election rally in South Carolina in February 2016, in which he talked admiringly about a counter-insurgency in the Philippines conducted by Gen John Pershing between 1909 and 1913, when he was governor of Moro province.
“They were having terrorism problems just like we do,” Trump said. “And he caught 50 terrorists who did tremendous damage and killed many people. And he took the 50 terrorists, and he took 50 men, and he dipped 50 bullets in pig’s blood.”
He claimed that Pershing then “had his men load his rifles and he lined up the 50 people, and they shot 49 of those people. And the 50th person, he said, ‘You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.’”
In 2016, Trump claimed such mass executions ended the Islamic insurgency for a quarter-century. “Twenty-five years, there wasn’t a problem,” he said. In his new tweet he revised that estimated upward to 35 years.
This account of Pershing’s actions has circulated on the internet since 2001 but historians say there is very little if any evidence to support it, and Trump was denounced for his support of mass killing aggravated by racist insults.
At least 13 people were killed and 100 injured on Thursday when a driver deliberately slammed a van into crowds on Barcelona's most popular street, Las Ramblas, in what police confirmed was a terror attack.
Citizens of 24 countries were among those killed and injured in Barcelona including one Belgian national confirmed to have died.
Meanwhile Five terror suspects shot dead in Cambrils, a coastal town around 120km from Barcelona, early Friday.