Santorum: Imam Rauf "Is A Jihadist"

August 24, 2010 10:41 am ET — Matt Finkelstein

Last night on Fox News, former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) claimed that Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the lead organizer of the planned Islamic community center in Lower Manhattan, "is a jihadist."

SANTORUM: My thinking was all along if he made the statements that he made, he probably had a lot more that are going to be found out. This man is not a moderate Muslim. This is someone who believes the United States has blood on their hands, that the United States is responsible for this. He is a jihadist, he's just not a violent jihadist. That does not make him a moderate.


Santorum is referring to a 2005 speech, in which Rauf said that "the United States has more Muslim blood on its hands than Al Qaeda has on its hands of innocent non Muslims." Despite the hysterical outrage on the right, it's tough to justify why the statement is a big deal, especially when Rauf's very next sentence substantiated his point: "You may remember that the U.S.-led sanction against Iraq led to the death of over a half a million Iraqi children."

As The American Prospect's Adam Serwer explains:

It's very clear what Rauf is saying--that U.S. policies have contributed to misery in the Middle East and South Central Asia and that misery is a key ingredient in a very complicated stew from which radicalism spews forth. That conclusion is entirely uncontroversial in military and intelligence circles.

While many opponents of the Islamic center insist that their concern is all about location and respect for the victims of 9/11, Santorum made it clear that he just has a problem with Muslims in general.  "The vast majority of the Muslim community," he argued, refuses to condemn terrorist groups like Hamas.  Santorum previously indicated that Rauf's project would not be appropriate even if it were moved.  

For more on Rauf's moderate record, click here, here, here, here, and here.