"He was the founder of ISIS, absolutely," Trump told CNBC on Thursday, a day after he repeatedly made the claim.
The terror quasi-state that is variously called Islamic State, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh was founded by a bloodthirsty religious zealot named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 2004. The native Jordanian moved to Iraq, along with thousands of other insurgent volunteers, to fight the American and British forces that had invaded that country in 2003.
At the time, Barack Obama was serving as a state senator for the 13th District of Illinois, spending most of his time shuttling between Chicago and Springfield.
The United States smashed the Iraqi military in March 2003 and took over the country. On May 23, 2003, under the orders of the Bush administration's designated administrator for Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, the United States disbanded the Iraqi Army and fired thousands of other government workers. As a result, many thousands of Iraqis were put out of a job within a country with a wrecked infrastructure and an economy that had ground to a near-total halt.
Al-Zarqawi entered Iraq either during the invasion or just after it, with funding from Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden, whom the United States had already tried kill in Afghanistan. Al-Zarqawi started funneling foreign fighters into the country through Syria. He also had little difficulty attracting fighters from disaffected Sunni tribes in Iraq, most of whom had little money or means of acquiring it, but many of whom had arms they had either stolen or bought from the collapsed national army.