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. centsless

    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.

    November 18, 2011 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  2. centsless

    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.

    November 18, 2011 09:37 pm at 9:37 pm |

    He's such a plucky guy and now someone wants to pluck him off.

    November 18, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  4. Randy, San Francisco

    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?

    November 18, 2011 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  5. jimbo

    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".

    November 18, 2011 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  6. Texas Doc

    Now that pizza is a vegetable can Cain call himself a farmer?

    November 18, 2011 09:50 pm at 9:50 pm |
  7. Clwyd

    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!

    November 18, 2011 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  8. otermbachmann

    Excuse me, EXCUSE me...He's joking everybody, lighten up. Faux Newsism says stupidity is ok.

    November 18, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  9. Me in MN

    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!"

    November 18, 2011 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  10. Not fooled

    I guess the Secret Service is to protect Cain from the Taliban.

    November 18, 2011 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  11. John

    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.

    November 18, 2011 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    (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.

    November 18, 2011 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  13. roro

    This bloated egotist is not worth the time to listen to. He's an embarrassment to himself.

    November 18, 2011 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  14. GEEP10

    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

    November 18, 2011 11:42 pm at 11:42 pm |
  15. ardubya

    Talk about the walking dead. I am surprised this guy can walk and talk at the same time. You go 999

    November 18, 2011 11:45 pm at 11:45 pm |
  16. opus512

    Jesus, what a moron.

    November 19, 2011 12:16 am at 12:16 am |
  17. Ringer

    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.

    November 19, 2011 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  18. ej

    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.

    November 19, 2011 12:50 am at 12:50 am |
  19. DixonIV

    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.

    November 19, 2011 12:53 am at 12:53 am |
  20. Jane

    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.

    November 19, 2011 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  21. skarphace

    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.

    November 19, 2011 01:21 am at 1:21 am |
  22. Marry

    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…

    November 19, 2011 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  23. Donkey Party

    Cain has no brain. Go away already, you walking embarrassment.

    November 19, 2011 05:48 am at 5:48 am |
  24. sara

    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.

    November 19, 2011 06:19 am at 6:19 am |
  25. john

    Wow, really? The Taliban? Is that the same Taliban who've never travelled anywhere outside Afganistan or Pakistan? Damn, Herman is one DUMB cookie!

    November 19, 2011 07:15 am at 7:15 am |
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