Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sad but not surprising

is the utter ignorance of Congress (and the vast majority of Americans) of the enemy we face in the Middle East.

Incoming House Intelligence Committee chief Silvestre Reyes (D-Tx) displayed a ghastly lack of basic knowledge of Islam when questioned by Jeff Stein of the Congressional Quarterly.

Silvestre Reyes, the Democrat chosen to head the House of Representatives committee, was asked whether members of al-Qaeda came from the Sunni or the Shia branch of Islam.

“Al-Qaeda, they have both,” he answered, adding: “Predominantly probably Shi’ite.”

In fact, al-Qaeda was founded by Osama bin Laden as a Sunni organisation and views Shia Muslims as heretics. The centuries-old now fuels the militias and death squads in Iraq.

Jeff Stein, a reporter for Congressional Quarterly, then put a similar question about Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shia group.
“Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah . . .” replied Mr Reyes. “Why do you ask me these questions at five o’clock? Can I answer in Spanish? Do you speak Spanish?” Go ahead, said Stein. “Well, I, uh . . .” said the congressman.
Gulp. Can't promise that the average Congressman, much less the average American, would do much better. But the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee?

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