Cain suggests new Libyan regime to contain the Taliban
November 18th, 2011
08:12 PM ET
11 years ago

Cain suggests new Libyan regime to contain the Taliban

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.

Filed under: 2012 • Herman Cain • Libya
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. GonzoinHouston

    To be fair, this is not the dumbest thing Mr. Cain has ever said. No, there won't be a formal Taliban or Al-Qaeda delegation to their legislature, but where there is a power vacuum, Taliban-type Islamists or groups like Al-Qaeda will try to slither in. When things are as confused as it's getting to be in Libya, a well-organized, well-funded group with a propensity for murdering their way to the top will see a golden opportunity. Hopefully the Libyans will be smart enough to reject them.

    November 18, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  2. bawana

    well lookie here raztus ,,,here comes uncle hermie,,,aint he all smart and everythang....yes sir boss ,,,you mean kind of like how bush/cheney's unpaid for war in iraq created a chasim ,,when kicking out the ruling party of sunni's that had controlled the area since the time of the ottoman empire? now iraq is going to be shia thanks to cowboy george and his sidekick dead-eye dick,,,guess what iran is shia,,,anyway that is a much bigger problem than any taliban being in lybia there ole hermie

    November 18, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  3. kenny

    Herman Cain needs to go back to Georgia and enroll in High School again and retake World History and Civics. Maybe he will learn something this time. It can't hurt because he sure as hell doesn't know anything now. At present he has a long way to go just to be in a class with Sarah Palin and that's no compliment.

    November 18, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  4. Middle of the road

    How did this fellow ever become a CEO of any organization of any size? Seriously.

    November 18, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  5. FedUpWithLife

    Well if Cain suggests the Taliban is in the Libyan regime, you can bet they are not, because no one is as clueless as our Herman.

    November 18, 2011 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  6. John in Colorado

    Or, did he have Libya confused with Afghanistan? Or was one of the female reporters eminently gropable? So in his efforts to "clarify" his abject stupidity, he makes matters worse. Maybe he should just crawl under a rock. How about it Herman "the Vermin" Cain?

    November 18, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  7. sqeptiq

    Anything that may be may not be. If we never did anything because there may be problems, we'd still be hunting with rocks and sharp sticks. Apparently what the Republicans mean by "conservative." What others call reactionary.

    November 18, 2011 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  8. Debbie

    And our tax dollars are going towards a guy that is not even the GOP nominee. Talk about waste in government spending.

    November 18, 2011 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. mk1

    You know, for once he may be right. I have long said we had best be careful of what we wish for. We deposed Saddam in Iraq and they had free elections and they elected a group that is quite cozy with Iran and some in the government are extremely anti US. Hum, we were the ones who wanted Saddam gone and this is what we got. As for Libya, if they elect a government that has ties to Al Queda and the Taliban, what can we do about it. They had elections and elections have consequences we may not like.

    November 18, 2011 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  10. mike

    Sweet!! I now remember remember how to use the mrpi_bcast in my parallel programing class, hope my professor let me retake that test, I got the right answer now.....Cain, pleeeeease.......ur not fooling any1 dude.

    November 18, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  11. JimNasium

    When you find yourself in a hole, keep digging.

    November 18, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  12. jrcarroll

    Hey Herm,
    Go to Libya ( NOT Labia) and report your findings.

    November 18, 2011 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  13. Rajeev G

    Mr. Cain, do not let the door hit your back on your way out!

    November 18, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  14. jma58

    I know far more about foreign affairs than Cain.

    November 18, 2011 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  15. ibwon

    There you go Teabaggers. You sure know how to pick em. Who cares if you're candidate has absolutely no clue as to what's going on in the world. But he sure makes a crappy pizza, so he should be POTUS, right? Idiots.

    Teabaggers hate America.

    November 18, 2011 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  16. jt_flyer

    Maybe instead of debates we should have 6 grade level, current events quizzes. I think Nute would win. Perry and Bachmann... maybe not so good. I'd put Cain in the center of the pack. Just a guess. One thing's for sure; the media's going to report every dramatic moment.

    November 18, 2011 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  17. rjo3491

    This moron is done. Time to drop out!

    November 18, 2011 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  18. M -

    So now you know there Libya is – shut the F up – go back to your pizzas – you are an idiot taken for a ride by the racist GOP –

    November 18, 2011 09:18 pm at 9:18 pm |
  19. Mike

    What a complete blithering idiot. Surely there must be a better way to put forward candidates who are competent and intelligent. The current system is more suitable to a reality show.

    November 18, 2011 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  20. raster1944

    Considering Cain had little to offer in previous questions regarding US policies on Libya what now seems to make him an expert of US foreign policy and Libya's internal government. I don't believe any Republican candidates have gotten foreign briefs yet. Just trying to make statements to condone his ignorance about foreign governments or policies.

    November 18, 2011 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  21. R T

    let me be the first to say...Ninja PLEASE!!! Taliban aint concerned with your black azz. C'mon now...Cain you making us look bad dude.

    November 18, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  22. CSCI132

    No news there, that information was known late February/early March and has been admitted to by several of the new "leaders" of Libya, that they themselves are/were Taliban and Al Quada who killed Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    November 18, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  23. R T

    I'm sick and tired of seeing and hearing you Cain!! You definitely forgot where you came from, and if I hear something else about your 999 plan I'm going to cut my ears off!!

    November 18, 2011 09:24 pm at 9:24 pm |
  24. Peikovianii

    The Arab world has no foundation for democratically-elected republics and will choose a strongman or religious fanatic every time.

    November 18, 2011 09:25 pm at 9:25 pm |
  25. lgny

    Ever since McCarthy in the 50's, conservatives routinely denounce every popular movement by asserting that it contains some radical elements - first communists, now Muslim fundamentalists. Yes, some radicals are present, but that does not mean that the overall movement is fore-destined to become radical. Indeed, the role for America and Europe is to find ways to encourage the moderate groups.

    November 18, 2011 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
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