Sen. John McCain wanted to spend the night with rebels linked to kidnappers during his visit to Syria in May, according to a pundit who has been advocating an American strike against Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Elizabeth O’Bagy, Syria team leader at the Institute for the Study of War, told The Daily Caller the Arizona Republican was so taken with his Sunni guerrilla hosts that he had to be “forced” by his security detail to leave.
In an exclusive interview with TheDC, O’Bagy described the trip she arranged for the senator through the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF).
“The rebels had opened their doors and were welcoming McCain to stay and have dinner at their house and stay the night,” O’Bagy said. “It was a very fascinating trip…It was really great to see an American politician reach out to the Syrian people in ways that no one else has done.”
McCain communications director Brian Rogers confirmed O’Bagy’s account. “Yes,” Rogers wrote in an email to The Daily Caller, “he wanted visit with them longer, including until the next day.”
“Senator McCain’s security detail was forcing him to leave and was pushing him out the door and wanted to get him back to Turkey…Senator McCain wanted to stay the night and learn more about the rebels. One of the messages that McCain got from Idris is that the opposition “didn’t need pizza but needed weapons,” O’Bagy said.
O’Bagy wasn’t troubled by McCain’s desire to spend the night with a group formerly run by kidnappers. In the Beirut Daily Star, a former hostage held by the anti-regime Northern Storm Brigade identified one of the men in a photo with McCain as Mohammad Nour, the chief spokesman and photographer for the Northern Storm kidnappers. The former hostage told the paper he had seen Nour several times and been photographed by him during his captivity.
O’Bagy tried to clear up “confusion” that McCain may have met with Syrian kidnappers.