If you're someone who stays somewhat abreast of Middle Eastern culture & news then this is probably no big surprise to you. However, I think this would probably be quite surprising to many Americans, who see "the terrorists" as some sort of monolithic bloc.
The point here, which is probably obvious to Patterson School students, is that not all groups and states in the Middle East are the same, and that not all groups and states who are antagonistic toward the US are the same. The most obvious case in point is the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Another more recent example would be Iran's early support for the US led invasion of Afghanistan to depose the virulently anti-Shi'ite Taliban government.
While these distinctions between groups may seem elementary to IR graduate students, it doesn't seem to be so clear to foreign-policy-guru presidential candidates:
Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back".In another instance, McCain referred to Al Qaeda as a "sect of Shi'ites".-Washington Post (March 2008)
Admittedly, McCain isn't the worst of the '08 presidential contenders in this regard. That honor goes to Mittens Romney (no, not this one), who frequently conflated groups as disparate as Al Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood.