Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum wants voters to know something: The Islamic State quoted him once. In speeches, Santorum often sets up his analysis of the group known best as ISIS by recalling how he made it into its official magazine, Dabiq, in a section titled “In the Words of the Enemy.” At a Nevada “national security forum” held before the final debate of 2015, Santorum reminded the audience that no other candidate had been singled out like this. After Hillary Clinton claimed — falsely — that ISIS was using Donald Trump’s criticism of Islam to convert new supporters, Santorum told Breitbart News that she had fingered the wrong guy.
“The only person that’s been listed in ISIS magazine as an enemy of ISIS is me,” said Santorum. “It wasn’t because I was criticizing or taking on the Muslim religion, or I was pontificating on what we need to do to make Muslims like us. The reason I was identified as an enemy was because I identified who they are.”
It’s true that Dabiq, issue 8, featured Santorum and labeled him an enemy.
Yet Santorum has not had Dabiq all to himself. “In the Words of Our Enemy,” which frequently quotes think tank experts and foreign military strategists, has singled out plenty of other Americans. The Washington Post’s editorial board made it into issue 7, shamed (and celebrated) for this January piece that warned Americans not to get cocky about small military victories. Every issue of Dabiq is available, thanks to the Clarion Project, and five other pols have made into the “Enemy” pages.
In issue 3, Dabiq chided the commander-in-chief for announcing new military action against ISIS. In an inspired bit of trolling, overlapping with some popular right-wing myths, it even referred to him as an “apostate” — i.e., someone who had been raised Muslim and left the faith.
“The crusader, apostate Barack Obama announced to the world the continuation of the American crusade against Islam and the Muslims of Iraq, only to prove to his followers that there is no difference between his partisan politics and that of his predecessor — Bush — apart from cosmetic, superficial touches,” wrote Dabiq. “His decisions also expose the hypocritical politics of America that only serve the interests of their Jewish ally, Israel, and their own capitalist gluttony.”
Former Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel
The two-term Nebraska senator, who joined the Obama administration in 2013, was opposed by 41 of his fellow Republicans. He went on to appear in Dabiq twice, on both occasions as a sort of hype man, stating that ISIS posed a real threat.
“ISIL has been very adept at deploying technology and social media to increase its global profile and attract tens of thousands of fighters,” Hagel was quoted as saying in the fourth issue of Dabiq, using an alternative acronym for the group. “Its goal is to become the new vanguard of a global extremist movement and establish an extremist Islamic caliphate across the Middle East.
Two issues later, as he left the Obama administration, Hagel got another hat-tip. “We’ve never seen an organization like ISIL that is so well-organized, so well-trained, so well-funded, so strategic, so brutal, so completely ruthless,” Dabiq quotes Hagel as saying. “Then they blend in ideology which will eventually lose, we get that, and social media. The sophistication of their social media program is something that we’ve never seen before.”
Virginia State Sen. Dick Black
Before he was narrowly reelected in 2015, the conservative from northern Virginia made it into the same issue as Santorum, warning that ISIS and its supporters could topple western civilization.
“I think ultimately Europe will be conquered, and that’s why I look at Syria as the center of gravity,” Black said. “That’s what we used to talk about in the army war college when we would study wars and the objective.”
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham
The 2008 presidential nominee has made two cameos in Dabiq, accompanied in one by his closest ally in the Senate. In the second issue, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) saw a floor speech about the mounting ISIS threat quoted at length. “Hourly they are experiencing greater gains while the Iraqi military and police seem to be dissolving before our very eyes,” he said.
Dabiq’s ninth issue quoted from an essay that McCain and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) wrote about the need for safe zones in territory reconquered from the Islamic State — “crusader zones,” in the magazine’s unimpressed view.
“What tops this off is the call made by various crusaders (‘Protected Zones for Syria,’ John McCain, Lindsey Graham) and apostates (the Syrian National Coalition) for the establishment of ‘protected zones’ in Idlib, Dar’ā, and Halab — areas currently inhabited by the Syrian ‘alQā’idah’ and its Gulf backed allies,” wrote the editors. “These zones are to be protected from the Islamic State by crusader and apostate jets! May Allah have mercy upon the Mujāhid Shaykh Usāmah Ibn Lādin (rahimahullāh), whose call these jihād claimants have perverted so grossly.”
At the time that ran, Graham was one of Santorum’s rivals for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Since Graham’s departure this month, Santorum is correct: He’s the only candidate quoted in Dabiq.
Recommended further reading: Cracked’s Robert Evans, on what he learned by plowing through every issue of the magazine.
This article was written by David Weigel from The Washington Post and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.