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I don't even know if I've asked the question correctly because I can't even parse the sentence properly.

I know the sentence is long and a little bit difficult so it would be enough for me if you explained what the meaning and function of not so say is here. I'm sure it's connected to some other component but I fail to find out which one.

Here is the sentence:

Private to him as this phenomenon was —it appears to have been felt by him alone— he took it as a further sign of the imminent return of the Twelfth Imam, not so say a further endorsement of his ambition to see the Islamic Republic of Iran, sunk as it was in beggary and repression and stagnation and corruption, as nonetheless a nuclear power.

(Source: God is not Great by Christopher Hitchens, p.279)

He is talking about Ahmadinejad's experience of a green light during the speech he was giving at the United Nations General Assembly meeting, and about his interpretation of this green light.

I've searched the web, yet again I couldn't find anything worth considering. I've found a Facebook group named "It is so hard not so say 'I love you'. I don't get the meaning of even this one.

I thought it might be connected to the component at the very end, i.e. "as nonetheless a nuclear power" but failed again to build any intelligible association.

Long story short, I need a native speaker at this point to help me out.

Thank you very much.

closed as off-topic by user3169, Stephie, Glorfindel, M.A.R. ಠ_ಠ, Nathan Tuggy Jul 12 '15 at 21:01

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    I believe it is a typo., and should read "not to say". Meaning is the same as "not to mention". – user3169 Jul 12 '15 at 16:42
  • I thought it might be a typo as well. I've seen several typos throughout the book but they were mainly in given names, proper names etc., not in phrases. And I know Hitchens has an erudite style and he sometimes uses words, phrases or expressions I have a difficult time finding in somewhere else. So I thought this might be one of them as well. – A.K. Jul 12 '15 at 16:49
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because the phrase in the question is based on a typographical error. – user3169 Jul 12 '15 at 16:52
  • Welcome to the site! For a "newbie" this is a good question - you showed your research effort, gave a source etc. and that's something we love to see here. (+1 for your effort). But I agree with user 3169: if you consider this as a typo it suddenly makes sense, just like the name of the facebook group (although that may be intended as some kind of joke, we'll probably never know. – Stephie Jul 12 '15 at 16:53
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    @A.K. You would be surprised how often the same sentence from a particular book can come up on an S.E. site here. I think there are five questions asking about the same sentence from the same book on EL&U. It would probably be helpful for other readers if you keep the question up here, and just let the powers that be close it eventually :) (and keep your five rep points!) – Araucaria Jul 12 '15 at 18:59