Sen. John McCain’s Monday decision to sneak into Syria for a photo-op with rebel commanders is quickly going from publicity stunt to embarrassment, with the revelation that one of the “commanders” in question is the head of a kidnapping ring.
According to freed kidnap victims, the photo shows Abu Ibrahim, the leader of the rebel Northern Storm brigade, which has been fighting in Aleppo and whose strategy has centered around kidnapping foreigners and Shi’ites and holding them for ransom.
McCain’s spokesmen have issued statements terming the incident “regrettable,” but insisting that McCain had no way of knowing who the rebel commanders he took pictures with were, adding that none introduced themselves as Abu Ibrahim.
Which of course underscores the problem with McCain’s visit. He was eager to endorse the rebels and rushed headlong into the country to give his imprimatur to the civil war, but he showed little interest in finding out who the rebels he was posing with were, or what they stood for. That they were on the side of a war that McCain is hoping to suck the US into was simply good enough for him.