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Bill McCarthy
By Bill McCarthy July 15, 2020

Trump’s counterterrorism efforts include continued global coalition meetings, but no new conference

Donald Trump promised on the campaign trail to convene an international conference focused on defeating the Islamic State group and curbing the spread of "radical Islam."

"As president, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal," Trump said during the Aug. 15, 2016, speech in Youngstown, Ohio

"We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel," he said. "We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished."

Nearly four years later, we found no record that Trump called together any new conference of world leaders. The U.S.-led Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS, an alliance now 82 members strong, was formed in 2014 under former President Barack Obama and has continued to meet.

A State Department spokesperson said the U.S. has participated in numerous meetings of the global coalition since its formation, and that the U.S. and other coalition members remain committed to the partnership and the fight against ISIS.

Trump spoke at a coalition meeting on Feb. 6, 2019. He celebrated the coalition's work in the "shared fight" and said its members would "work together for many years to come." 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also spoken at the coalition's events, including during the most recent meeting of the coalition's foreign ministers on June 4.

The coalition convened at least twice per year for several years, said Bruce Hoffman, a senior fellow for counterterrorism and homeland security at the Council on Foreign Relations. 

The coalition does include Jordan and Egypt — two of the nations Trump singled out during the campaign speech as potential partners in the fight against ISIS — as well as most of the other countries that make up the Middle East. Israel is not listed as a member.

The White House has celebrated as an accomplishment of the Trump presidency the fact that NATO officially joined the global coalition in 2017 — a move that was largely a formality and a show of political support, since the alliance's member countries were already involved.

Trump has also called for international cooperation to combat terrorism, including during a tour of the Middle East in 2017, as we noted when we last updated this promise.

Still, we found no record that Trump organized any new international conferences dedicated to defeating ISIS in our searches of Google, Nexis, the White House's website and Factba.se, the interactive transcript database that tracks Trump's public statements. 

For what it's worth, ISIS is now significantly weaker than it once was, experts told us. In October 2019, U.S. forces killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a nighttime raid, and ISIS' land holdings have been largely dismantled over the years. But the group has not been eliminated

We rate this promise a Compromise.

Our Sources

PolitiFact, "No international conference on ISIS in sight," Oct. 13, 2017

Various searches on Google, Nexis, Factba.se and the White House archives, July 14, 2020

U.S. Department of State, "Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS," accessed July 14, 2020

Obama White House, "ISIL Strategy," accessed July 14, 2020

Council on Foreign Relations, "Trump's Foreign Policy Moments," accessed July 14, 2020

The White House, "Remarks by President Trump to the Ministers of the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS," Feb. 6, 2019

The White House, "The Historic Results of President Donald J. Trump's First Two Years in Office," Jan. 20, 2019

NATO, "Doorstep statement by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meeting of NATO Heads of State and/or Government," May 25, 2017

The White House, "Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer," May 22, 2017

The Wall Street Journal, "NATO Likely to Join Coalition Against Islamic State," May 18, 2017

PolitiFact, "No evidence photo of Trump watching Baghdadi raid was staged," Oct. 28, 2019

PolitiFact, "Fact-checking Donald Trump's claims about Syria and US troop withdrawal," Oct. 8, 2019

PolitiFact, "Mike Pence wrong that ISIS has been defeated," Jan. 17, 2019

PolitiFact, "Donald Trump: ISIS territory losses near 100 percent," Jan. 30, 2018

Statement from the U.S. Department of State, July 14, 2020

Email interview with Bruce Hoffman, senior fellow for counterterrorism and homeland security at the Council on Foreign Relations, July 14, 2020

Allison Colburn
By Allison Colburn October 13, 2017

No international conference on ISIS in sight

As part of his counterterrorism plan, President Donald Trump promised he would convene a conference between world leaders to help develop a coordinated plan to defeat ISIS.

"As president, I will call for an international conference focused on this goal," Trump said during a campaign speech in Youngstown, Ohio. "We will work side-by-side with our friends in the Middle East, including our greatest ally, Israel. We will partner with King Abdullah of Jordan, and President Sisi of Egypt, and all others who recognize this ideology of death that must be extinguished."

No such conference has taken place, and the White House didn't respond to our request for a status update.

So we took a look at what Trump has done so far to help bring international counterterrorism efforts to the same table.

In the past year, Trump has met with world leaders on dozens of occasions to discuss terrorism and other global issues, including meetings with King Abdullah II and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.

He also reaffirmed the United States' commitment to counterterrorism at the G20 summit in July and has pushed NATO to increase its counterterrorism spending and efforts.

In May, Trump toured Europe and the Middle East, where he called for international cooperation to fight terrorism. During his stop in Riyadh, Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi Arabian government and, along with Sisi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz, inaugurated the Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology, which monitors terrorist propaganda.

These regular conferences and meetings with foreign leaders are typical for a U.S. president.

But we haven't yet seen any initiative to bring world leaders together for a conference to discuss terrorism. We'll look for any updates on this promise, but for now we it Stalled.

Our Sources

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