McCain Mixes Up Militants on Mideast Tour

Candidate says Teheran's helping al-Qaeda
By Jonas Oransky,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 18, 2008 5:25 PM CDT
Israeli President Shimon Peres, left, shakes hands with US senator and Republican Presidential candidate John McCain, (R-AZ), center, as Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, (ID-CT), left, looks on at the Presidential...   (AP Photo/GPO, Moshe Milner, HO)
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(Newser) – John McCain mixed up his militants today during a stop on his Mideast tour. He told reporters in Jordan that Tehran is “taking al Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.” A whisper from Sen. Joseph Lieberman prompted him to add, "I'm sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda"—a group that is Sunni, unlike Iran, which is Shiite.

McCain's trip is largely viewed as an attempt to plug his foreign policy prowess, the Trail blog reports. But McCain repeated the gaffe more than once before being corrected. When pressed, he said at first it was "common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that's well known."