President Trump's first public reaction to the Barcelona van attack was to tweet a response: "The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!" His second public reaction was to spread a rumor that's been debunked, CNN reports. "Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught," he tweeted. "There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!" CNN says Trump was probably talking about the rumor that Gen. John J. Pershing shot Muslims with bullets dipped in pig's blood, or buried them with pigs' bodies, during the Philippine-American War as a deterrent to insurgents. It's a rumor that multiple media outlets, Fox News included, are pointing out has no evidence supporting it.
Trump definitively referred to that rumor during the presidential campaign, telling the audience at a rally that Pershing's forces lined up 50 Muslim prisoners, shot 49 of them with pig's-blood-dipped bullets, and told the last person, "'You go back to your people, and you tell them what happened.' And for 25 years, there wasn't a problem." But both Snopes and Politifact have deemed this rumor to be false. Pershing did write about another commanding officer in the war who supposedly buried Muslims with pigs, but, per Politifact: "There is no evidence that Pershing himself committed these acts ... and most important, there is no evidence to support Trump's claim that this tactic was effective in stopping violence." Not to mention, as a religious expert told Huffington Post in 2013, there is no penalty in Islam for simply coming into contact with pork products.