McCain mistaken on Iran and al-Qaida - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

McCain mistaken on Iran and al-Qaida

Amman_Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee-in-waiting, mistakenly said Tuesday that Iran was allowing al-Qaida fighters into the country to be trained and returned to Iraq.

McCain, expressing concern about Iran's rising sway in the Mideast, said, "Al-Qaida is going back into Iran and is receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran." He made the comments Tuesday at a news conference in Jordan; he made similar comments earlier to radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt.

Iran is a predominantly Shiite Muslim country and has been at pains to close its borders to al-Qaida fighters of the rival Sunni sect.

Iran has been accused by the United States of funding, training and arming Iraqi Shiite militants in their uprising against the United States. But there have been no allegations by Washington and no evidence that al-Qaida has benefited from Iranian assistance.

After Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who was traveling with McCain, stepped forward to whisper in the candidate's ear, McCain said: "I'm sorry; the Iranians are training the extremists, not al-Qaida. Not al-Qaida. I'm sorry."

McCain, who has linked his political future to U.S. success in Iraq, had just completed his eighth visit to Iraq. He was in the wartorn country on Monday for meetings with Iraqi and U.S. diplomatic and military officials.

McCain's gaffe immediately drew criticism from the Democratic National Committee, which insisted he must not understand the challenges facing Iraq.

"Not only is Senator McCain wrong on Iraq once again, but he showed he either doesn't understand the challenges facing Iraq and the region or is willing to ignore the facts on the ground," said Democratic National Committee Communications Director Karen Finney.

McCain also voiced similar concern that Tehran is bringing militants over the border into Iran for training before sending them back to fight U.S. troops in Iraq, and he blamed Syria for allegedly continuing to expedite a flow of foreign fighters.

"We continue to be concerned about Iranian influence and assistance to Hezbollah as well as Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons," McCain said.

He added that, if elected president, he would coordinate better with Europe to impose a "broad range of sanctions and punishments" on Tehran, to "convince them that their activities, particularly development of nuclear weapons, is not a beneficial goal to seek."

McCain declined to comment on whether he could back an eventual decision to strike Iran if Tehran doesn't cease its nuclear activities.

In response to a question about possible U.S. strikes against Tehran, McCain only said: "At the end of the day, we cannot afford having a nuclear-armed Iran."

In addition, McCain noted U.S. military officials recently discovered a cache of armor-piercing bombs in Iraq, and he hinted the explosives had been provided by Iran. U.S. officials have long been saying that Iran provides explosively formed penetrators, or EFPs to, Shiite militias in Iraq, although the Iranian government denies any role.

The U.S. military reported two such finds during the past week.

McCain warned that any hasty pullout from Iraq would be a mistake that would favor Iran and al-Qaida.

"We continue to be very concerned about the Iranian influence in Iraq and in the region," McCain said.

McCain ran into trouble last year when he joked about bombing Iran, giving a campaign audience in South Carolina a rendition of the opening lyrics of the Beach Boys rock classic "Barbara Ann," calling the tune "Bomb Iran" and changing the words to "bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, anyway, ah ..."

Later Tuesday, McCain received a celebrity welcome in Jerusalem, beginning a two-day visit to Israel with a stop at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial. As his motorcade pulled up dozens of tourists greeted him and chanted "Mac is back," as he shook their hands and posed for photographs.

During his 90-minute visit at the memorial and museum, McCain was visibly moved, his eyes welling with tears as he viewed photographs from Nazi death camps.

Wearing a skullcap placed on his head by Lieberman, McCain laid a wreath in memory of the 6 million Jewish Holocaust victims and lit a memorial flame. Signing the Yad Vashem visitors' book he wrote: "I am deeply moved. Never again. John McCain."

His visit to Iraq was the Arizona senator's first since emerging as the presumed Republican nominee. He was accompanied by Lieberman and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., two of his top supporters in the race for president.

He promised that, if elected president, he would uphold a long-term military commitment in Iraq as long as al-Qaida in Iraq is not defeated.

McCain is a supporter of the 2003 invasion and President Bush's troop increase last year.

____

Associated Press Writers Dale Gavlak in Amman, Jordan, and Libby Quaid and Steve Hurst in Washington contributed to this report.

Alfred de Montesquiou, AP Writer © 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
  • Local NewsNewsMore>>

  • Pentagon, border wall covered in $788B House spending bill

    Pentagon, border wall covered in $788B House spending bill

    Thursday, July 27 2017 12:48 PM EDT2017-07-27 16:48:59 GMT
    Friday, July 28 2017 4:40 AM EDT2017-07-28 08:40:19 GMT
    The House passed a $788 billion spending bill Thursday that combines a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump's controversial border wall with Mexico with a whopping budget increase for the Pentagon. (Source: CNN)The House passed a $788 billion spending bill Thursday that combines a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump's controversial border wall with Mexico with a whopping budget increase for the Pentagon. (Source: CNN)

    The GOP-controlled House is plowing ahead on legislation to give the Pentagon a massive spending boost and deliver a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump's oft-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico...

    The GOP-controlled House is plowing ahead on legislation to give the Pentagon a massive spending boost and deliver a $1.6 billion down payment for President Donald Trump's oft-promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

  • GOP dealt stiff blow in Senate's bid to repeal 'Obamacare'

    GOP dealt stiff blow in Senate's bid to repeal 'Obamacare'

    Friday, July 28 2017 3:39 AM EDT2017-07-28 07:39:34 GMT
    Friday, July 28 2017 4:40 AM EDT2017-07-28 08:40:12 GMT

    The Senate has rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law.

    The Senate has rejected a measure to repeal parts of former President Barack Obama's health care law.

  • AP EXCLUSIVE: Sessions not leaving unless pushed

    AP EXCLUSIVE: Sessions not leaving unless pushed

    Thursday, July 27 2017 11:28 AM EDT2017-07-27 15:28:47 GMT
    Friday, July 28 2017 4:40 AM EDT2017-07-28 08:40:01 GMT
    Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will stay in the job for as long as President Donald Trump wants him to serve. (Source: CNN)Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday he will stay in the job for as long as President Donald Trump wants him to serve. (Source: CNN)

    Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that could attempt to insulate Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired.

    Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee are working on legislation that could attempt to insulate Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired.

Powered by Frankly