Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California is being criticized for a statement he made appearing to support the terror attack by the Islamic State on Iran, and implying that this is President Donald Trump's strategy. He made the statements during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Hezbollah.
"We have recently seen an attack on Iran and the Iranian government, Mullahs," Rohrabacher said, "believe it's Sunni forces that have attacked them. This may signal a ratcheting up of certain commitments by the United States of America. And as far as I'm concerned, I just want to make this point and see what you think. Isn't it a good thing for us to have uh, the United States finally backing up Sunnis who will attack Hezbollah and the Shiite threat to us? Isn't that a good thing?"
"And if it's so," he added, "maybe this is a Trump uh, maybe it's Trump strategy uh of actually supporting one group against another, considering that you have two terrorist organizations."
"Those attacks were claimed by the Islamic State," responded panelist Dr. Matthew Levitt, "it's never in our interest to support a terrorist group like the Islamic State. We should condemn the attacks in Tehran as we would any act of terrorism, even as we hold Iran accountable for its sponsorship of terror."
"Even when it's attacking," Rohrabacher tried to interrupt, "so that's like Joe Stalin was a horrible guy, we must never associate with a horrible guy like that, even against Hitler."
"And so, maybe it's a good idea to have radical Muslim terrorists fighting each other," he added. "Uh, I'll leave it at that."
"I mean having coordinated the economic warfare plan against the Islamic State, I would not condone an attack by the Islamic State," panelist Dr. Asher responded.
The video of the interaction was made widely available after the National Iranian American Council clipped the comments and posted them on their YouTube account.
The NIAC noted ironically that Rohrabacher "represents more Iranian Americans than nearly any other lawmaker in the House of Representatives." Their statement included a recounting of the interaction, but did not include the portion of Leavitt's where he said, "even as we hold Iran accountable for its sponsorship of terror."
Many on social media found the comments distasteful.
I think Rohrabacher is the only politician who has managed to stake out the lucrative pro-ISIS, pro-Assad position.… https://t.co/ZPpJZcTzsS— Tom Gara (@Tom Gara)1497059192.0
WTAF? Is there nothing Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) won't do to prove what an idiot he is? Who the hell votes for th… https://t.co/VUsetvxB3e— RussSwall (@RussSwall)1497148790.0
Truly astonishing. And disgusting. Don't forget: Rohrabacher was on the shortlist to be @realDonaldTrump 's Secreta… https://t.co/hW1K2yVgW0— Mehdi Hasan (@Mehdi Hasan)1497136612.0
Unbelievable. Republican congressman Rohrabacher suggested the #ISIS terror attacks in Tehran were a "good thing"… https://t.co/k4maMBUa60— Jim Murphy (@Jim Murphy)1497046262.0
CA Rep. #Rohrabacher thinks we should support ISIS, as well as Russia. Does anyone think this is a good idea? Time to retire him CA.— Martha Ramirez (@Martha Ramirez)1497131936.0
California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher wants the US to support ISIS against Iran. Not his first bizarre remark. https://t.co/goWCevBdz0— Negar Mortazavi (@NegarMortazavi) June 10, 2017
Trump's statement after the attack expressed sympathy for the victims, and for the people of Iran, but offered this rebuke of the Iranian government, "We underscore the risks that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote." Rohrabacher's statement may lend credence to the accusation by the Iranians that Trump's overtures to the Saudi Arabian government led in some way to the attack that took the lives of 17 people.