The Islamic State "just built a hotel in Syria."

Donald Trump on Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 in a speech announcing his 2016 presidential campaign

Donald Trump: ISIS built a hotel in Syria

The self-proclaimed Islamic State has taken over the luxury Ninawa International Hotel in Mosul, Iraq. Photo released by the Islamic State.
The lobby of the Ninawa International Hotel in Mosul, Iraq. The self-proclaimed Islamic State took over the hotel in May 2015. Photo released by the Islamic State.

Donald Trump is facing a lot of competition these days.

The Republican real estate mogul announced he’s running for president -- against at least a dozen other candidates. In his June 16 announcement speech, Trump said he also has a new competitor in the hotel biz: a group of entrepreneurial terrorists who call themselves the Islamic State.

"Islamic terrorism is eating up large portions of the Middle East," he said. "They've become rich. I'm in competition with them. They just built a hotel in Syria. Can you believe this? They built a hotel."

We weren’t sure if we could, in fact, believe Trump’s claim that the Islamic State built a hotel in Syria, so we decided to check it out.

The grain of truth here is that the Islamic State has taken over a luxury hotel. But they didn’t build it. And it’s not in Syria. And it doesn’t really operate like a normal hotel.

We couldn’t find any evidence that the Islamic State is running any sort of hotel in Syria. We tried to get in touch with a Trump spokesperson and didn’t hear back.

However, this May, the Islamic State reopened a five-star hotel in Mosul that shut down when the terrorist group took over the city, one of the largest in Iraq. (Most of the information about this has come from Arabic language news sources.)

So the Islamic State didn’t build the Ninawa International Hotel; they just occupied it.

Also, it’s not really open for business. According to news reports, the Islamic State is using the hotel’s 262 rooms to house the group’s commanding officers, and they might use it as a wedding venue for the group’s members.

You can’t book a room at Ninawa online, and the TripAdvisor page is now defunct.

But pre-Islamic State reviews -- caught by Buzzfeed and others -- said the hotel had a good view of the Tigris river, a tennis court, gymnasium, swimming pool and two restaurants.

News reports say that, keeping with Islamic law, the Islamic State banned drinking and smoking in the hotel, and workers have removed decorations they disapprove of.

Our ruling

Trump claimed the Islamic State "just built a hotel in Syria."

The Islamic State does occupy a luxury hotel, which they took over about a month and a half ago. However, it’s in Iraq, not Syria, and they didn’t build it. It’s an old hotel that the group refurbished and occupied. As far as we know, the hotel’s rooms are reserved for Islamic State commanders, and the event spaces are for weddings.

At least for now, Trump doesn’t have to worry about the Islamic State running him out of the hotel business. We rate his claim False.