Republicans Are Obsessed With Islamic Terrorists. Just Don't Ask Them To Name Any.

Presidential candidates talking about terrorism probably should be able to identify some actual terrorists.

The GOP presidential candidates love to warn voters of the threat of Islamic terrorists. Not a day goes by without Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) bemoaning the threat of "radical Islamic terrorism." Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.), while complaining that President Barack Obama does not frame the fight against terrorism as a fight against Islam, recently conceded that not every Muslim is a terrorist and that there are "handful of reasonable, moderate followers of Islam."

But amid all of the fear-mongering about terrorists, it might be wise for presidential candidates to be able to identify the names of actual terrorists, like the head of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, and the head of al Qaeda, Ayman al Zawahiri.

On Thursday, conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt asked real estate mogul and reality television star Donald Trump and former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina a series of foreign policy questions. One question involved identifying these and other leaders of key terrorist groups, which both appeared unable to answer.

Hewitt: Now there are a lot of dangerous terrorist leaders in the world. There’s Hassan Nasrallah, there’s Al-Zawahiri. There’s al-Julani. There’s Abu-bakar al-Baghdadi. There’s al-Asiri. There’s al-Masri. Do you know most of these without a scorecard, Carly Fiorina?


Fiorina: Well, I have to be very honest with you and say that sometimes I can get confused a bit between the name and group because they sound a bit alike sometimes, so I have to pause and think sometimes. But, I certainly know all those names, both of the individual leaders and of the terrorist groups. I certainly understand where these terrorists are in play. I certainly understand that one of the most dangerous things that is going on right now is competition among these leaders and among their terrorist groups. 

Trump fumbled the question even worse, and in general, dismissed Hewitt's inquiries as "gotcha questions." He told Hewitt that he didn't need to be able to identify the leaders because "by the time we get to office, they'll all be changed. They'll all be gone." 

The real estate mogul also claimed that there was no reason for him to know them because he has never met them in person.

"As far as the individual players, of course I don’t know them. I’ve never met them. I haven’t been, you know, in a position to meet them. If, if they’re still there, which is unlikely in many cases, but if they’re still there, I will know them better than I know you," he said.

To Fiorina's credit, she was able to provide answers to most of Hewitt's questions, and instead of outright dismissing the questions, admitted that it was important for a presidential candidate to know about foreign policy -- which, at the very least, involves naming some terrorists.

"I don’t think they’re 'gotcha questions' at all. The questions you’re asking are at the heart of the threat that we face, that our ally, Israel, faces, that the world faces," she told Hewitt. "It is critically important that America lead again in the world. It is critically important that we have a leader in the White House who understands the world and who’s in it and how it works."