Since last year I often see an image in both Twitter and Facebook claiming that Senator McCain once meet ISIS leader al-Baghdadi. The image is used as propaganda regarding the belief of some people that the US is behind the empowering of the terrorist group ISIS. It is true that Senator McCain ever meet ISIS leader al-Baghdadi?

McCain and al-Baghdadi, allegedly in Twitter

  • I tried to find this question by Google but couldn't because it doesn't contain "John McCain". So pardon me while I add some missing search terms: John McCain, ISIL, Daesh, Islamic State, IS. Jan 12, 2016 at 13:16

1 Answer 1


This is completely untrue.

Several news sources debunk the claims. The New York Times lays out the relevant facts:

The rumors are based partly on images of a Syrian fighter who resembles Mr. Baghdadi, seen in photographs with Mr. McCain — some originally posted on Twitter by the senator — during his visit in May 2013 to northern Syria. He met members of the Free Syrian Army, an insurgent group that opposes ISIS and that President Obama, in a speech [in September 2014] on his new strategy for battling ISIS, has vowed to strengthen.

This is backed up by the Washington Post:

On May 27, 2013, McCain slipped across the Turkish border to spend a few hours in Syria with members of the Free Syrian Army. Mouaz Moustafa, executive director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force, who helped arrange the visit and was with McCain, said many soldiers were members or commanders of the Northern Storm brigade, which serves under the army’s Supreme Military Council. One man was Gen. Salim Idriss, who at the time was chief of staff of the Supreme Military Council. “These guys, the Northern Storm brigade, are bitter enemies of ISIS,” Moustafa said, in part because they were so effective. As a result of the photos of the fighters with McCain, ISIS declared that “everyone in this picture needs their head chopped off,” he said. “After the meeting, many of the Northern Storm were completely killed by ISIS.”

  • 1
    Indeed, Northern Storm are not part of Islamic State but of Islamic Front, which rejects the concepts of representative democracy and secularism, instead seeking to establish an Islamic state ruled by a Majlis-ash-Shura and implementing sharia. They're not members of the Free Syrian Army, though they possibly were in 2013.
    – gerrit
    Nov 20, 2015 at 14:13
  • It's easy to track down the images (and videos) in their original form in publicity around McCain's 2013 trip, with a search restricted to May 2013. For example, this BBC report includes video footage of the meeting. Jan 12, 2016 at 16:30

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .