Did McCain 'Mispeak' about Iranian help for AQ in Iraq?

Rick Moran
The Democrats say he did. So does the Washington Post which, we all know, is basically the same thing:

Sen. John McCain, in the midst of a trip to the Middle East that he hoped would help burnish his foreign policy expertise, incorrectly asserted Tuesday that Iran is training and supplying al-Qaeda in Iraq, confusing the Sunni insurgent group with the Shiite extremists who U.S. officials believe are supported by their religious brethren in the neighboring country.

The mistake, which he quickly corrected after a brief whisper from a colleague, was an unwelcome stumble as McCain (Ariz.), the all-but-certain Republican nominee for the White House, spends seven days in the Middle East and Europe.
After the Democrats issued a statement mocking McCain's "ignorance" of Iraq, the McCain campaign said that the gaffe was a non story because the candidate immediately corrected himself. But was he wrong?

Thomas Jocelyn at the
Weekly Standard doesn't think so:

• Earlier this month, the U.S. military and the current head of Iraqi intelligence reported that Iran has been targeting al Qaeda's enemies--not al Qaeda itself--inside Iraq. There have also been a number of reports on Iran’s support for al Qaeda in Iraq. The Kurds have routinely complained about Iran’s support for al Qaeda’s affiliate, Ansar al-Islam. For more on Ansar al-Islam’s ties to Iran, and other bad actors, see Dan Darling’s excellent primer. As Darling wrote: "Another apparent relationship exists between Ansar and radical elements of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which seeks to use Ansar as a proxy force against the Coalition in Iraq."

• More generally, the theological differences between Iran and al Qaeda have never been a serious impediment to cooperation. For example, I wrote a lengthy essay on the topic of Iran’s cooperation with al Qaeda going back to the early 1990’s. And in a recent piece, I detailed the evidence cooperation between Iran’s chief terrorist, the late Imad Mugniyah, and al Qaeda.

• The 9-11 Commission found extensive evidence of collaboration between Iran and al Qaeda. For example, the Commission concluded (p. 61): "The relationship between al Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shia divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations."

There's more proof at the link.

I thought that silly "Iran won't work with Sunni terrorists" meme fell out of favor long ago. Iran, after all, gives tens of millions of dollars to Hamas - a Sunni terrorist outfit. There have also been numerous reports of meetings near the Afghan-Iran border between Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the al-Qaeda leadership as well as persistent reports that
Iran is sheltering senior al-Qaeda leadership. 

Did McCain misspeak? Or was he too hasty in trying to "correct" the record?

Update -- Ray Robison writes:

In addition, in our book Both In One Trench: Saddam’s Secret Terror Documents, we have a document of a meeting back in 1999 with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who said Iran sent him 2000 men. He was a terror camp operator for al Qaeda then and since then has publicly pledged allegiance to UBL.
The Democrats say he did. So does the Washington Post which, we all know, is basically the same thing:

Sen. John McCain, in the midst of a trip to the Middle East that he hoped would help burnish his foreign policy expertise, incorrectly asserted Tuesday that Iran is training and supplying al-Qaeda in Iraq, confusing the Sunni insurgent group with the Shiite extremists who U.S. officials believe are supported by their religious brethren in the neighboring country.

The mistake, which he quickly corrected after a brief whisper from a colleague, was an unwelcome stumble as McCain (Ariz.), the all-but-certain Republican nominee for the White House, spends seven days in the Middle East and Europe.
After the Democrats issued a statement mocking McCain's "ignorance" of Iraq, the McCain campaign said that the gaffe was a non story because the candidate immediately corrected himself. But was he wrong?

Thomas Jocelyn at the
Weekly Standard doesn't think so:

• Earlier this month, the U.S. military and the current head of Iraqi intelligence reported that Iran has been targeting al Qaeda's enemies--not al Qaeda itself--inside Iraq. There have also been a number of reports on Iran’s support for al Qaeda in Iraq. The Kurds have routinely complained about Iran’s support for al Qaeda’s affiliate, Ansar al-Islam. For more on Ansar al-Islam’s ties to Iran, and other bad actors, see Dan Darling’s excellent primer. As Darling wrote: "Another apparent relationship exists between Ansar and radical elements of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), which seeks to use Ansar as a proxy force against the Coalition in Iraq."

• More generally, the theological differences between Iran and al Qaeda have never been a serious impediment to cooperation. For example, I wrote a lengthy essay on the topic of Iran’s cooperation with al Qaeda going back to the early 1990’s. And in a recent piece, I detailed the evidence cooperation between Iran’s chief terrorist, the late Imad Mugniyah, and al Qaeda.

• The 9-11 Commission found extensive evidence of collaboration between Iran and al Qaeda. For example, the Commission concluded (p. 61): "The relationship between al Qaeda and Iran demonstrated that Sunni-Shia divisions did not necessarily pose an insurmountable barrier to cooperation in terrorist operations."

There's more proof at the link.

I thought that silly "Iran won't work with Sunni terrorists" meme fell out of favor long ago. Iran, after all, gives tens of millions of dollars to Hamas - a Sunni terrorist outfit. There have also been numerous reports of meetings near the Afghan-Iran border between Iran's Revolutionary Guards and the al-Qaeda leadership as well as persistent reports that
Iran is sheltering senior al-Qaeda leadership. 

Did McCain misspeak? Or was he too hasty in trying to "correct" the record?

Update -- Ray Robison writes:

In addition, in our book Both In One Trench: Saddam’s Secret Terror Documents, we have a document of a meeting back in 1999 with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar who said Iran sent him 2000 men. He was a terror camp operator for al Qaeda then and since then has publicly pledged allegiance to UBL.