Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Reality trumps satire

Is al Qaeda a Sunni organization, or Shi'ite? The question proved nettlesome for Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, incoming Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. "Predominantly -- probably Shi'ite," he said in a recent interview with Congressional Quarterly, a periodical that covers political and legislative issues in Congress.

Unfortunately for Reyes, the al Qaeda network led by Osama bin Laden is comprehensively Sunni and subscribes to a form of Sunni Islam known for not tolerating theological deviation. In fact, U.S. officials blame al Qaeda's former leader in Iraq, the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi, for the surge in sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi'ites.

But Reyes' problems in the interview didn't end with al Qaeda. Asked to describe the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Congressional Quarterly said Reyes responded: "Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah," and then said, "Why do you ask me these questions at five o'clock?"

Reyes' office issued a statement on Monday noting that the Congressional Quarterly interview covered a wide range of topics.
That's from Reuters, not The Onion.
House intelligence chair calls al Qaeda Shi'ite (Reuters)
Update: Here's an interesting article by a Congressional Quarterly editor, first published in the New York Times. The responses therein of FBI officials and members of Congress won't inspire confidence.
Can you tell a Sunni from a Shiite? (International Herald Tribune)

comments: 1

Anonymous said...

I shuddered when I read that earlier in the news and now on your blog. This is a much more consequential form of ignorance than misspelling "potato" was.