McCain seems confused about al Qaeda again, suggests it’s a ’sect of Shi’ites.’

During today’s hearing with Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) questioned Petraeus on what he called “the major threat” of al Qaeda in Iraq. Coming on the heels of his recent confusion over the nature of al Qaeda, McCain today seemed to refer to al Qaeda as a “sect of Shi’ites”:

MCCAIN: Do you still view al Qaeda in Iraq as a major threat?

PETRAEUS: It is still a major threat, though it is certainly not as major a threat as it was say 15 months ago.

MCCAIN: Certainly not an obscure sect of the Shi’ites overall?


MCCAIN: Or Sunnis or anybody else.

Watch it:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/04/mccainshiites.320.240.flv]

CQ’s Jeff Stein wrote, “Al Qaeda is profoundly Sunni. If a Shiite showed up at an al Qaeda club house, they’d slice off his head and use it for a soccer ball.” McCain seemed to catch himself and correctly note that al Qaeda is a sect of Sunnis.

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Ilan Goldenberg has more.

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,Frank James at The Swamp writes, “McCain may want to work on this obvious weakness in his Iraq fund of knowledge. Maybe flash cards would help.”

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,A McCain spokesman acknowledges McCain “stumbled“:

In the course of having a serious dialogue with our military leadership in Iraq about how Americans can formulate success going forward, John McCain stumbled on his words and corrected them immediately.

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