NEW YORK (FOX5NY) - An atrocity on the streets of Barcelona drew both a swift and controversial response from the White House. First, President Trump tweeted support for Spain saying the U.S. condemns the terror attack. Then a second curious message referenced the late U.S. Army Gen. John J. Pershing.
Before Pershing rose to fame in World War I, he was a governor in the Philippines, a U.S. territory at the time facing a Muslim revolt in the early 1900s.
From the President: "Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more radical Islamic terror for 35 years!"
That is a widely discredited tall tale that Trump also told while on the campaign trail.
"[Pershing] took 50 bullets and dipped them in pig's blood. And he has his men load up their rifles and he lined up the 50 people and they shot 49 of those people," Trump said at a rally in South Carolina in 2016. "And the 50th person, he said, 'You go back to your people and you tell them what happened.'"
Fact-checking site PolitiFact gave the story a false "Pants on Fire" rating. Snopes, a myth-busting site, also reached the same conclusion, saying the statement appears to be an internet hoax.
The president didn't tweet any further clarification of his message.
During separate appearances, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson took a different approach than their boss responding to the attack.
"The United States stands ready to assist the people of Spain and find and punish those responsible," Pence said.
"Terrorists around the world should know the United States and our allies are resolved to find you and bring you to justice," Tillerson said.
PolitiFact noted that General Pershing wrote in his memoir of another commander who once buried enemies with a dead pig. That anecdote is very different than the president's story and no evidence exists that it stopped future attacks.