Washington (CNN) – Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain on Friday seemed to suggest Libya's developing government, which is set to succeed the fallen regime of Moammar Gadhafi, contains elements of the terrorist groups al Qaeda and the Taliban.
The comments came during a media availability in Orlando, where Cain sought to clarify his bungled response Monday on whether he agreed or disagreed with President Barack Obama's handling of the situation in Libya during an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
"What they didn't show was I asked the reporter to be more specific. The question was do you agree or disagree with the president on Libya? What part?" Cain said Friday.
"Do I agree with siding with the opposition? Do I agree with saying that Gadhafi should go? Do I agree that they now have a country where you've got Taliban and al Qaeda that's going to be a part of the government?" the former businessman continued.
After his remarks, a Cain spokesperson told CNN the candidate was expressing uncertainty over the makeup of the new Libyan government. The spokesperson also pointed to a Reuters article Thursday that discussed Abdul Hakim Belhadj, a military leader in the National Transitional Council and former Taliban ally. The National Transitional Council is Libya's interim government.
U.S. counterterrorism officials have never indicated any concern about a Taliban presence in Libya.
However, Noman Benotman, a former commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), an anti-Gadhafi opposition group and one time ally of Osama bin Laden, told CNN in October that "if there is a power vacuum in Libya, there will be an open market for al Qaeda."
Benotman currently works for the Quilliam Foundation, a counterterrorism think tank based in London and Islamabad, Pakistan.
Although extremists haven't played a major role in Libya's liberation, a U.S. official who was not authorized to speak with attribution, told CNN last month: "It remains to be seen how much influence [al Qaeda] will have in the new Libya, but some will undoubtedly try to make their presence felt."
Since the beginning of Libya's liberation movement last spring, U.S. officials have said there were only a small number of extremists among the rebels. As one official put it, there was a "sprinkling of extremists to perhaps include al Qaeda" among the opposition forces.
– CNN's Pam Benson and Steve Brusk contributed to this report.
Wow! Amaing what a week will do. A week ago Cain didn't even know where Libya is. No he "suggests" The Talibn are there. I wonder if he know where they are from. Hint: Sandwiched between Pakistan and Iran.
Wow! Amaing what a week will do. A week ago Cain didn't even know where Libya is. Now he "suggests" The Talibn are there. I wonder if he know where they are from. Hint: Sandwiched between Pakistan and Iran.
He's such a plucky guy and now someone wants to pluck him off.
Iowa GOP/Tea Party voters should come to the realization that Cain is NOT qualified to run for president. What further proof do they need?
Herman Cain is an idiot who should have stayed in the pizza business. This bozo clown knows nothing about foreign affairs. He is a true example of the "dumbing of America".
Now that pizza is a vegetable can Cain call himself a farmer?
Really, I think he better appoint another one of his appointees to tell him about the Taliban and who they are. This man has too much running through his head and it sure isn't brains!
Excuse me, EXCUSE me...He's joking everybody, lighten up. Faux Newsism says stupidity is ok.
Please, Mr. Cain, you've embarrassed yourself and your party enough. Bow out. You're just a debate or two away from shouting "the rent is too damn high!"
I guess the Secret Service is to protect Cain from the Taliban.
Herman Cain don't know Foreign Policy. He was ask about Libya and was taking about Afghanistan. He has no Idea what he taking about In this area.
(Mc) Cain– WOW Libya will contain Taliban. You are just to smart. Hey let's bomb them. No better yet pull 10k troops out afganistan and send them to libya. Remember to use your Garmin. Sorry herm, you look like a deer in headlights or a ball lost in tall weeds.
This bloated egotist is not worth the time to listen to. He's an embarrassment to himself.
Trump, Bachmann, Perry, Cain, prerequisite to becoming a GOP candidate = a full frontal lobotomy!! Just when
you think they can not get any lower, here comes Newt!! This is what the morally superior GOP have to offer?? The only thing worse than the candidates are the neanderthal pea baggers
Talk about the walking dead. I am surprised this guy can walk and talk at the same time. You go 999
Jesus, what a moron.
Well thank you for being the first news agency I found that actually reported that there ARE ties to the Taliban. Their extent is unknown but it is there.
Cain has proven that he speaks off the cuff without the benefit of supportive facts... Anyone that thinks he's a viable candidate is delusional.
He is an expert at shifting the focus from his inability to respond to a question to anything else. The vicitmizer is an expert at playing the vicitm. Nothing more than a good tea party thug.
Okay, I am now convinced that Mr. Cain is a Democratic mole snuck in the mix to sabotage the Republicans. No one can says he's running for President and really be that stupid.... so hey, thanks, you're doing a great job.
Cain is a liar. Again. He couldn't remember Obama's position on Libya, and without knowing Obama's position, he couldn't assert his own opinion, which would be, of course, the opposite of whatever Obama's position was.
Cain is now trying to discredit this feather in Obama's foreign policy cap by suggesting that the new Libyan regime will be allied with terrorists and therefore worse than Gadhafi's regime was. It is a much-used Tea Party talking point, which in fact started when Obama supported Egypt. Then, it was not al Qaeda or Taliban influence, but the Muslim Brotherhood.
Same old same old. Blame Obama for everything and give him credit for nothing. This is the Tea Party agenda, of which that fool Cain is a part.
Wow, Mr. Cain found a new talking point that is sure to get attention: al Qaeda and the Taliban!
The “Palin-club” is getting more members by the minute: Bachman, Perry, Cain…
Cain has no brain. Go away already, you walking embarrassment.
I just don't feel comfortable for a man on a book tour to get taxpayer Security from our esteem Secret Service. This man has proven over and over, he is not a candidate for the presidency, selling books is his focus. Besides, this man stated there is no racism in America and the KKK story he presented would be invalid., per "this man's" earlier statement.
Wow, really? The Taliban? Is that the same Taliban who've never travelled anywhere outside Afganistan or Pakistan? Damn, Herman is one DUMB cookie!