For years, the groups these donors funded have pushed a narrative that Islam is a uniquely violent ideology at war with the West, and that its most radical followers had established themselves at the highest levels of government and influence.
Gaffney's group has claimed that Huma Abedin, an aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and conservative anti-tax activist Grover Norquist were both plants from the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. (The latter assertion regarding Norquist led to Gaffney being blacklisted from the Conservative Political Action Convention.) A number of groups have also called for widespread surveillance of Muslims, the closure of mosques and the application of public pressure to prevent new mosques from opening.
These conspiracies and policies often bubbled up into political discourse with the help of Republican members of Congress like Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Peter King (R-N.Y.) and former Reps. Michele Bachmann, Allen West and Sue Myrick. Newt Gingrich also promoted Islamophobia during his 2012 presidential campaign.
Now these groups and their beliefs have broken into the mainstream of Republican Party presidential politics. Not only has Trump endorsed a ban on Muslims' entry to the United States, but both Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) appeared at an anti-Iran rally co-sponsored by Gaffney's Center for Security Policy in September. And all of the candidates have pushed for some kind of change to the admittance of Syrian refugees to the U.S., including bans on Muslim refugees, a policy promoted earlier in 2015 by Gaffney.
Ken Gude, a senior fellow with the national security team at the Center for American Progress and a co-author of the "Fear, Inc." reports, says that prior to this year it seemed that the Islamophobia movement was largely confined to the fringe of conservative circles.
“Now, we see it breaking out into the mainstream and certainly Trump is the biggest example of it,” Gude said, also citing other public reactions following the Nov. 13 Paris attacks. “I don’t think we can say this is a fringe phenomenon any longer.”