KEY POINTS

  • A viral tweet alleged that the Afghan Taliban is backing President Trump in the upcoming election
  • Taliban spokesman Mujahid called out CBS News for misinterpreting his comments
  • Snopes.com: KKK has supported Trump since 2016, but the Trump admin has repeatedly rejected the endorsement

A tweet from a well-known screenwriter alleging that the Afghan Taliban is backing President Donald Trump in the November elections has gained traction on the Internet in recent days.  

The tweet assumes significance because the Trump administration signed a pact with the Taliban in February, which said U.S. troops would withdraw from Afghanistan by the spring of 2021 if the extremist organization cut its ties from al Qaeda. More than 3,500 soldiers from the U.S.-led coalition have died in Afghanistan since the invasion of the country in 2001.

The tweet by WGA-awarded screenwriter and author Bess Kalb on Oct. 11 suggested that in addition to the Taliban, extremist organizations like the Ku Klux Klan also supported Trump in the upcoming presidential elections. She also alleged that the New England Journal of Medicine and other "broad bipartisan coalitions" backed Democractic candidate Joe Biden. 

The claims by the longtime writer for "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and The New Yorker have received more than 84,000 retweets and 374,000 likes by midnight ET Wednesday. 

"This election is a tough call because one candidate was endorsed by both the Taliban and the KKK and the other was endorsed by a broad bipartisan coalition and the New England Journal of Medicine," Kalb tweeted. 

The basis for the tweet is probably an article by CBS News, titled "The Taliban on Trump: 'We hope he will win the election' and withdraw U.S. troops." The statement was initially attributed to Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid who the news organizaiton had spoken to on the phone. But CBS corrected the article after Mujahid denied the report; and the corrected version attributed the statement to another senior senior Taliban leader, whom it did not name.

The Taliban spokesman said, as reported by The Jerusalem Post, that the organization supports "whoever will be in power in the U.S." and not any specific person. Mujahid also posted a tweet Oct. 10, calling out CBS News for misinterpreting his comments and said, "nothing like what they published has happened."

Trump campaign spokesman Tim Murtaugh rejected the Taliban's endorsement. In an emailed statement to Fox News, he said the president is committed to protecting American interests.

The corrected CBS article quoted the unnamed senior Taliban leader as saying: "Honestly, Trump was much more honest with us than we thought; even we were stunned with his offer to meet Taliban in Camp David." 

It also quoted Mujahid:  "We believe that Trump is going to win the upcoming election because he has proved himself a politician who accomplished all the major promises he had made to American people, although he might have missed some small things, but did accomplish the bigger promises, so it is possible that the U.S. people who experienced deceptions in the past will once again trust Trump for his decisive actions," Mujahid said. 

Fact-checking website Snopes.com said of the claims made in the tweet that "the KKK and its former grand wizard David Duke have endorsed U.S. President Donald Trump since his initial campaign in 2016, although the Trump administration has repeatedly rejected that endorsement."

It added that "The New England Journal of Medicine said the country's current political leaders “have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent" and "this election gives us the power to render judgment," but it did not refer to Biden or Trump by name."

The Taliban declared "victory" after signing the deal with the US The Taliban declared "victory" after signing the deal with the US Photo: AFP / NOORULLAH SHIRZADA