|© AFP/File Dominique Faget
ALGIERS (AFP) – Washington warned Algiers on Friday that Al-Qaeda’s offshoot in North Africa may exploit the unprecedented unrest and violence that have been roiling the region, a senior US official said.
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which is a splinter group of the international militant operation, “is always seeking to exploit what is going on in the region,” said Daniel Benjamin, a State Department official.
“I don’t think we should expect terrorists to stand by and it is an opportunity for them to gain ground,” said Benjamin, who is the State Department’s coordinator for counter-terrorism.
AQIM kidnapped foreigners including an Italian tourist last month when it had also attempted to assassinate Mauritanian President Ould Abdel Aziz. AQIM bases are spread across Algeria, Mauritania and Mali.
“The southern borders of a number of different countries including Libya which is in a state of some turmoil are really in the Sahel so it is a great concern,” Benjamin said, referring to the region spanning North Africa.
“We do have some worries that terrorists will see that as a moment to exploit.”
Benjamin was visiting Algeria where he discussed with local authorities on bilateral cooperation over tackling terrorism.
Algeria waged a protracted war with Islamist militants in the 1990s that resulted in some 200,000 deaths.
© AFP — Published at Activist Post with license