Probably just a guy he knows from his Chicago neighborhood.
The White House is facing questions after a photograph surfaced of President Barack Obama smiling next to the leader of an authoritarian separatist group known for its past terrorism and what experts dubbed egregious human rights violations.
The controversial photo in question appears to capture a smiling President Obama standing next to Mohamed Abdelaziz, the leader of the Polisario Front, a Moroccan separatist group in Algeria that commits massive human rights infractions and has been cited as a “prime recruiting grounds for al Qaeda.”
The picture was supposedly snapped at last week’s Nelson Mandela memorial ceremony in Johannesburg and then featured on an Arab language news website, which dubbed the encounter as “the first official meeting between the Polisario and the U.S. president.”
Former U.S. officials and other foreign policy insiders expressed outrage over the photo, saying that it is embarrassing for the U.S. president to be seen smiling next to the longtime leader of a violent Marxist movement known for torturing innocents, snatching children, and working with one of the deadliest terror groups on the planet.
“I don’t blame the president; lots of people want their pictures taken with him. But where’s the quality control? What were his aides thinking?” asked Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon analyst and terrorism expert.
“The whole reason Obama travels with hundreds of people is to prevent this sort of screw up,” said Rubin, who first flagged the photo in a column for Commentary magazine. “This is the African equivalent of accidentally shaking hands with the head of Hamas, Hezbollah, or any of the throwback Palestinian Marxist groups.”
Well, he warmly greeted Raul Castro, so what’s the difference between one Marxist terror leader and another? Oh, and when Jay Carney inevitably spins this, he might want to come armed with the facts.
Considered a “terrorist organization” by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Polisario Front is most known for holding some 400 Moroccan soldiers hostage for more than 20 years and subjecting them to torture and other forms of abuse.
Polisario is also responsible for the deaths of five Americans and numerous others who were killed when it launched a successful 1988 terror attack that brought down a Western aircraft.
More background on this terror group here.