In Rick Santorum’s World, Scary Muslims Are All the Same

Fight disinformation. Get a daily recap of the facts that matter. Sign up for the free Mother Jones newsletter.


With Ron Paul committing to a characteristically doveish position on a maybe-nuclear-armed Iran, Rick Santorum took the opportunity to bare his teeth, leveling several outrageous claims—albeit ones that will play well to the hawks in attendance—at Thursday night’s debate.

Iran “is a country ruled by the equivalent of Al Qaeda,” Santorum claimed, adding that the Iranian government is a radical theocracy with a commitment to martyrdom. If Iran doesn’t open up its nuclear facilities and close them down, “we will close them down for you,” he promised.

First things first: Al Qaeda is a radical Sunni movement. Iran is a Shiite-majority country; as you may have heard, these two sects don’t exactly get along all the time. And Al Qaeda’s financing has historically come from Sunni-majority countries, most notably Saudi Arabia. In July, the Treasury Department did accuse Iran of facilitating large cash transfers from Middle East donors to Al Qaeda leaders. But any more substantial ties have yet to surface. So what Santorum meant, exactly, when he said Iran is run by Al Qaeda’s “equivalent” is unclear.

If you needed any clearer indication of just how much Al Qaeada is not the equivalent of Iran, review the much-diminished terrorist organization’s stern rebuke to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his continued insistence on feeding the 9/11-trutherism hype:

In the latest issue of the al Qaeda English-language magazine “Inspire”, an author appears to take offense to the “ridiculous” theory repeatedly spread by Ahmadinejad that the 9/11 terror attacks were actually carried out by the U.S. government in order to provide a pretext to invade the Middle East.

“The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government,” an article reads. “So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?”. . . ran continues to spread the conspiracy theory, al Qaeda says, because doing otherwise would expose their “lip-service jihad” against the U.S.

Al Qaeda clearly wants to keep the memory of its atrocities alive. You’d think if the group was an Iranian proxy, Ahmadinejad wouldn’t be running around spreading lies about its most important terrorist strike.

Given the opportunity to speak immediately after Ron Paul—a committed non-interventionist—Santorum saw an opening to highlight his hawkishness. In doing so, he conflated two distinctly different, more or less unrelated threats. Eh, no biggie.

HERE ARE THE FACTS:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

ONE MORE QUICK THING:

Our fall fundraising drive is off to a rough start, and we very much need to raise $250,000 in the next couple of weeks. If you value the journalism you get from Mother Jones, please help us do it with a donation today.

As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate