No, the first lady did not really issue a threat to former President Barack Obama over the safety of her son.
A headline on Yournewswire.com fabricated the quote in a clickbait headline: "Melania Trump: ‘If ISIS Lays a finger on Barron, I’ll scratch Obama’s eyes out."
Facebook users flagged the Nov. 23 post as being potentially fabricated, as part of the social network’s efforts to combat fake news. Yournewswire.com is a fake news website.
In this case, the article is not entirely fictional because it was based on a threat by an ISIS supporter. However, there is no evidence that Trump responded with her own threat against former President Barack Obama.
Yournewswire.com cites an article in the Washington Free Beacon, which stated that pro-ISIS internet channels called for the assassination of the son of Melania and President Donald Trump. The Free Beacon attributed the information to the Middle East Media Research Institute, an organization that tracks jihadist propaganda. The institute found the information about the threat against Barron on Telegram, a social media network.
Here’s what the group reported:
On November 21, 2017, a supporter of the Islamic State (ISIS) on Telegram called for the assassination of Barron Trump, and shared the name of the school that Barron attends along with a Google map pinpointing its location. Using the hashtag "handle the son of the mule of America," the supporter, who uses the name "Dak Al-Munafiqeen," Arabic for "striking the hypocrites," wrote: "Barron Trump goes to this school in Washington." The post was followed by a photo of Barron Trump. To widely disseminate the call for assassination, several pro-ISIS Telegram channels have shared and forwarded the post.
The report drew scant mainstream media attention. While Telegram is used by a lot of people worldwide, it is particularly popular with jihadis and ISIS supporters, said Steven Stalinsky, MEMRI executive director.
"It's the main vehicle for ISIS and their supporters to use to communicate and put out propaganda," he said.
The threat against Barron on Telegram from a supporter is not the equivalent of an official communique by ISIS, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a terrorism expert at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told PolitiFact.
"The fact that someone on an ISIS channel said it online doesn’t make it a significant threat," he said. "Anything said by some extremist on Telegram is not exactly breaking news that most outlets pick up in any way."
Where the YourNewsWire.com story really goes into fake territory is the idea that Melania Trump responded to the threat by saying "if ISIS Lays a finger on Barron, I’ll scratch Obama’s eyes out." We could not find any evidence that she responded at all.
We contacted YourNewsWire.com and received a reply from the editor in chief, Sean Adl-Tabatabai, who said PolitiFact is "policing the internet as part of a a faux moral crusade on behalf of the Clinton regime."
YourNewsWire.com stated that Melania Trump said, "If ISIS Lays a finger on Barron, I’ll scratch Obama’s eyes out."
We found no evidence that Melania Trump responded to an online threat against Barron at all — much less that she said she would enact revenge on Obama.
We rate this headline Pants on Fire.
Yournewswire.com, "Melania Trump: ‘If ISIS Lay A Finger On Barron, I’ll Scratch Obama’s Eyes Out,’" Nov. 23, 2017
The Free Beacon, "ISIS Calls for Assassination of Barron Trump," Nov. 21, 2017
The Middle East Research Media Institute, "Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM) Weekend Summary," Nov. 25, 2017
International Business Times, "ISIS Wants Barron Trump Dead, Calls For Supporters To Kill President's Son," Nov. 22, 2017
The Evening Standard, "Sean Adl-Tabatabai on being in the eye of the 'fake news' storm," Feb. 16, 2017
Washington Post, "The ‘app of choice’ for jihadists: ISIS seizes on Internet tool to promote terror," Dec. 23, 2016
PolitiFact, "PolitiFact's guide to fake news websites and what they peddle," April 20, 2017
Interview, Steven Stalinsky, Middle East Media Research Institute executive director, Nov. 27, 2017
Interview, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Foundation for Defense of Democracies senior fellow, Nov. 27, 2017
Interview, Sean Adl-Tabatabai, Yournewswire.com, Nov. 27, 2017
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