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Trump advisor and NH Rep Al Baldasaro criticizes family of fallen Muslim-American veteran

By DAN TUOHY
New Hampshire Union Leader

August 01. 2016 2:59PM
Veterans advocate and N.H. State Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry) speaks in defense of presidential candidate Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan in May, (REUTERS/Lucas Jackson)

Donald Trump’s state veterans co-chairman Al Baldasaro Tweeted out a link Monday to a website offering a conspiracy theory that claims Khizr Khan is a “Muslim Brotherhood” agent who wants to advance Sharia law in the U.S.

Baldasaro defended the link to Shoebat.com when asked about it by a reporter, but an hour later, Baldasaro was questioning the veracity of what he had promoted on Twitter. “After reading info on Walid Shoebat, who has been on national television, I am not sure about his credibility,” Baldasaro Tweeted.

The anti-Muslim website is run by Walid Shoebat, who identifies himself as a former “radicalized Muslim (who was) willing to die for the cause of Jihad” until he converted to Christianity in 1994.

The controversy began when Khan criticized the Republican presidential nominee last week at the Democratic National Convention.

In an emotional address, he spoke of his Muslim-American son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed by a car bomb in Iraq in 2004.

A post on the Shoebat site does not just attack Khan; it targets his war hero son. “Is it likely that Khan’s son was killed before his Islamist mission was accomplished? Only another type of investigation will determine that,” the post reads. 

It goes on to state that Khan has ties to Hillary Clinton because he once worked at a law firm with ties to the Clinton Foundation.

Trump sparred almost immediately with Khan, first questioning whether his wife was even allowed to speak at the Democrats’ convention. On Twitter on Monday, he then emphasized that the story is not about Khan, but “rather RADICAL ISLAMIC TERRORISM.”

Baldasaro, a Marine Corps veteran who has appeared on stage with Trump at many events, made national news two weeks ago when he said Hillary Clinton should be “shot for treason.” 

On Monday he supported Trump’s line of questioning of the soldier’s mother, Ghazala Khan.

“I’ve been around many Gold Star mothers, and they all speak out. She just stood there,” Baldasaro said.

Mrs. Khan has since spoken out, including writing a commentary for the Washington Post.

In a follow-up interview on Monday, Baldasaro said he Tweeted out the Shoebat post so people can make up their own minds. 

“The father used his son as a political pawn,” he said. “This has nothing to do with his son.”

Asked about showing Khan sympathy, Baldasaro responded that Khan “put it on himself” for attacking his party’s nominee.

U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., a Vietnam War hero who has clashed with Trump, did not see it that way.

“In recent days, Donald Trump disparaged a fallen soldier’s parents,” McCain said in a statement Monday. “He has suggested that the likes of their son should not be allowed in the United States — to say nothing of entering its service. I cannot emphasize enough how deeply I disagree with Mr. Trump’s statement. I hope Americans understand that the remarks do not represent the views of our Republican Party, its officers, or candidates.”

NH reaction

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, said she was “appalled” by Trump’s comments.

“There is no greater sacrifice than to lay down one’s life for their country, and that’s the sacrifice that Captain Humayun Khan made fighting to defend our freedom and our constitutional rights,” Ayotte said in a statement. “He was a true American hero. The Khan family deserves nothing less than our deepest support, respect, and gratitude, and they have every right to express themselves in any way they choose. I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage them and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.”

New Hampshire Republican Party Chairman Jennifer Horn said she agrees with Ayotte, saying, “there is no sacrifice comparable to giving your life in defense of others. To even suggest such a thing is reprehensible and shows a total lack of understanding and compassion.”

“A core Republican principle is to honor and support those in the U.S. military who preserve our freedom, including the thousands of Muslim Americans who serve,” Horn said. “As the mother of a United States Marine, I am appalled by Donald Trump’s comments regarding the Kahn family and stunned by his lack of understanding for their sacrifice.”

Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat running for U.S. Senate, said it was “absolutely horrifying that Donald Trump would launch personal attacks against parents whose son was killed defending our freedoms.”

Trump statement

Trump’s campaign issued a statement over the weekend pointing to his praise for Mr. Khan, and his son.

“Captain Humayun Khan was a hero to our country and we should honor all who have made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our country safe,” Trump said. “The real problem here are the radical Islamic terrorists who killed him, and the efforts of these radicals to enter our country to do us further harm. Given the state of the world today, we have to know everything about those looking to enter our country, and given the state of chaos in some of these countries, that is impossible. While I feel deeply for the loss of his son, Mr. Khan who has never met me, has no right to stand in front of millions of people and claim I have never read the Constitution, (which is false) and say many other inaccurate things. If I become President, I will make America safe again.”

dtuohy@unionleader.com


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