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Entries in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (12)

Thursday
May022013

Terrorism, Counterterrorism Changed Two Years After bin Laden’s Death

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- It has now been two years since U.S. Navy SEALs dropped into a dark compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan, and killed Osama bin Laden. It was an event that stopped the nation in its tracks and was seen as a turning point in America's fight to stop al Qaeda's terror network.

In those two years the al Qaeda terror network has become so decentralized that its affiliates in Yemen and elsewhere now pose a greater direct threat to the U.S. Though weakened, counterterrorism analysts believe al Qaeda will continue to inspire potential Islamic extremists for years to come.

The raid was seen as a turning point in the war on terror and provided a "treasure trove" of documents that revealed the surprising degree of operational control bin Laden still had over the terror network.
Bin Laden's death was undoubtedly a severe blow to al Qaeda, but counterterrorism analysts continue to see the group as a potential threat to the U.S., though its role has evolved.

"The threat from Al Qaeda and the potential for a massive coordinated attack on the United States may be diminished, but the jihadist movement is more diffuse," James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) told Congress in April. "Lone wolves, domestic extremists and jihad-inspired affiliated groups are still determined to attack Western interests."

Surprisingly, the terror threat posed by al Qaeda and other terror groups did not top this year's version of the Worldwide Threat Assessment prepared by the DNI. It was the first time since the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks that the terror threat was not ranked as the number one threat to U.S. national security.

"Senior personnel losses in 2012, amplifying losses and setbacks since 2008, have degraded core al Qaeda to a point that the group is probably unable to carry out complex, large-scale attacks in the West," said Clapper. Those losses have come from the CIA's controversial drone strike program in Pakistan's tribal areas where al Qaeda leaders are believed to continue to operate.

While "core al Qaeda" has been weakened, its affiliate in Yemen, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), has pursued attacks on U.S. interests like the unsuccessful underwear bomber attack in 2009. A similar attack was thwarted last year around the time of the one year anniversary of bin Laden's death.
The threat posed by AQAP led to an expansion of the CIA's drone program into Yemen targeting the group's leaders including American born Islamic cleric Anwar al Awlaki.

Bruce Hoffman, a counterterrorism expert at Georgetown University, says bin Laden's death in May 2011 was regarded "as a decisive corner having been turned in the war on terror" and agrees that it hastened the terror network's decline. However, he is concerned by what he calls the "rise in al Qaedism" whose message of Islamic militancy targeting the U.S. has resonated in places like northern Africa where last September's deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was believed to have been carried out by al Qaeda supporters.

"We see the threat of its ideology to places where hitherto it really was not terribly strong or salient and we see almost a revival of its brand," says Hoffman. He adds that Islamic terrorists continue to cite al Qaeda as an influence and "aspire to emulate al Qaeda's ideology" of a violent struggle against the United States.

"I think the challenge of al Qaeda remains," says Hoffman. "We may want to wish it away, and we may want to believe that killing bin Laden killed off the brand, or killed off the ideology, but we don't see any evidence of that."

Brian Jenkins, with the Rand Corporation, agrees that bin Laden's death had "an immediate impact" on the group's morale and believes it became even more decentralized and dependent on its allies and affiliates since his death which could erode the group's ideological focus of a violent struggle against the United States.

"One of the things bin Laden did by his very existence was maintain a unanimity of focus, a degree of unity, a single-minded focus on its ideology," says Jenkins. While bin Laden's successor, Ayman al Zawahiri, has struggled to maintain that ideological focus Jenkins believes it could continue to erode and al Qaeda could fragment into many localized movements.

Jenkins is concerned that an "opportunistic" al Qaeda could be resurgent in Syria and Afghanistan. In Syria, Islamic extremists are playing a growing role in the fight to topple President Bashar al Assad leading to concerns about what a post-Assad Syria might look like. In Afghanistan, Jenkins is concerned that al Qaeda could once again find a safe haven in that country should the Taliban expand its control after U.S. combat forces pull out by the end of 2014.

"We have to presume this sort of thing will go on," said Jenkins. "All of these are opportunities for al Qaeda. It's not the same al Qaeda it was on Sept. 11. It's very different and it's still there, and I for one wouldn't exaggerate its death, but I'm not writing its epitaph right now."

Another possible indicator of al Qaeda's diminishing role is the decrease in the number of the CIA's drone strokes in Pakistan this year. Hoffman speculates the decrease could be the result of fewer al Qaeda targets or because "we don't have the intelligence to identify emergent al Qaeda leaders and single them out." He also thinks it might be possible that al Qaeda has gone underground in Pakistan's large cities.

Though credited with reducing core al Qaeda's operational capability, even some of the drone strike program's supporters are now expressing concern that it may be creating longer lasting negative effects that could undermine long term efforts to combat extremism.

"We're seeing that blowback," Gen. James Cartwright, the former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in March at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. "If you're trying to kill your way to a solution, no matter how precise you are, you're going to upset people even if they're not targeted."

Last month, Cartwright said at the first ever Congressional hearing on the drone program that the U.S. risked losing "the moral high ground" if it did not reveal additional details about the program's legal basis and oversight.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Monday
Sep102012

Gitmo Detainee Turned Terror Commander Killed: Reports

AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- An al Qaeda terror commander, who was released from Guantanamo Bay to join an art-based "jihadi rehab" program only to return to the fight as a high-ranking member of al Qaeda's Yemen branch, has been killed, according to Yemen's state-run media.

Said al-Shihri, a Saudi national considered by the U.S. government to be the number two man in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), was taken out in an airstrike along with six other militants, Yemen's Saba news agency reported today, citing security officials. DNA tests reportedly had not been done to confirm al-Shihri's death.

Al-Shihri, a "veteran jihadist," traveled to Afghanistan shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks to fight coalition troops, only to be captured weeks later, according to West Point's Combating Terrorism Center. He was sent to the U.S. prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where he stayed for six years before being released to Saudi Arabia. There, he entered a so-called "jihadi rehab" program that attempted to turn terrorists into art students by getting them to get "negative energy out on paper," as the program's director told ABC News in 2009.

But just months after he supposedly entered the fingerpainting camp, al-Shihri reappeared in Yemen where he was suspected to have been behind a deadly bombing at the U.S. embassy there.

At the time, critics of the "jihadi rehab" program used al-Shihri as evidence that extremists would just go through the motions in order to be freed.

"They basically schmooze or con their way out of the system and then they get out," former FBI agent and ABC News consultant Brad Garrett said in the 2009 ABC News report.

Before his release from Guantanamo, al-Shihri had told his captors that should he be freed, he would return to Saudi Arabia to work in his family's furniture store, according to detention documents posted online by The New York Times.

Since before Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in May 2011, U.S. security officials have warned that al Qaeda's regional arms -- especially AQAP -- represented a greater danger to the U.S. than the traditional "core" of the terror organization over which bin Laden presided.

Officials at the CIA, whose drone program U.S. officials say was responsible for the death of another high-profile AQAP member in April, declined to comment for this report.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jun132012

Yemeni Army Regains Control of Towns Turned into Al Qaeda Strongholds

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(SANAA, Yemen) -- Al Qaeda militants were driven from two towns in Yemen on Tuesday, a major coup for the government, which has dealt with the rising influence of the terrorist group.

Yemen's southern province has been a major stronghold for al Qaeda since the uprising known as the Arab Spring unsettled the region early last year.

However, the Yemeni army has recently stepped up attacks against terrorist fighters and by early Tuesday regained control of the town of Jaar as most al Qaeda gunmen fled rather than confront an overwhelming force.

Hours later, a Yemeni general said that the town of Zinjibar was also in the military's hands, proclaiming "al Qaeda fighters have fled the city after the noose was tightened on them."

According to the army, at least 26 al Qaeda militants were killed in the two operations, while four Yemeni soldiers also died.

Al Qaeda later released a statement that insisted it left the towns "not under military pressure but rather to prevent the further bloodshed of Muslims."

It was exactly a month ago that Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi ordered a major operation to take back towns and cities lost to al Qaeda in the country's southern province.

The U.S., which supports efforts against al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is headquartered in Yemen, has also lent its support in the way of equipment and training.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
May072012

AQAP Bomb Maker Killed in Yemen Drone Strike Tied to Recent Foiled Plot

FBI(SHABWA, Yemen) -- A drone missile strike in Shabwa, Yemen, on Sunday killed a man named Fahd Mohammad Ahmed Al-Quso, the Yemeni government said in a statement.

Al-Quso, 37, from Yemen, was best known in the United States for heading terrorist operations in the USS Cole bombing, which killed 17 American sailors in 2000. More recently, Al-Quso had replaced Anwar al Awlaki as head of external operations for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

He was continuing the terrorist group’s plans to take down an international airliner with an explosive -- one foiled in recent days, government officials say.

A previous attempt, with a bomb made by AQAP bomb maker Ibrahim Hassan al-Asiri, had failed on Christmas Day 2009, when the bomber, Umar Faruq Abdulmuttalab, failed to detonate the device that had been hidden in his underwear.

U.S. government sources tell ABC News that Al-Quso and Asiri continued to plan for a similar terrorist attack, using a small IED that could be hidden on a person, with the same goal of bringing down an international airline.

In April, their plot, based in Yemen, was detected by intelligence sources. American and other intelligence agencies were, sources said, on top of the plot from the beginning and closely monitoring it. Early last month White House counterterrorism czar John Brennan told President Obama about the plot.

The IED is in the hands of the FBI and is, according to sources, being thoroughly examined.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Feb102012

New Details About Unrepentant ‘Underwear’ Bomber Released

U.S. Marshals Service via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- ‘Underwear’ bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was obsessed with radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar Awlaki, and embarked on a pilgrimage to Yemen to seek him out in 2009.  During that time he met with senior al Qaeda leaders and became a hardened terrorist who went on a mission to kill 289 people during his attempted Christmas Day attack in 2009.

Court papers filed before Abdulmutallab’s sentencing next Thursday reveal new details about his links to Awlaki, who had emerged as a key figure within Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.  The report lays out in fascinating detail how Abdulmutallab came to his mission and why the Yemeni-American cleric was deemed so dangerous the U.S. government would hunt him down and kill him in a U.S. attack involving drones and military jets in September 2011.

For years, Abdulmutallab had been following the fiery radical’s online teachings of Awlaki. A psychological evaluation by Dr. Simon Perry, also released on Friday noted that Abdulmutallab was familiar with all of Awlaki’s lectures, saying, “They were an important motivator which led [Abdulmutallab] to decide to participate in jihad.  He began listening to the lectures in 2005 and reading Aulaqi’s writings, which motivated him to accept martyrdom.”

In August 2009, Abdulmutallab left Dubai, where he had been taking graduate courses, and sought out Awlaki in Yemen. Abdulmutallab was not to be denied. “Defendant visited mosques and asked people he met if they knew how he could meet Awlaki. Eventually, defendant made contact with an individual who made contact for him.”

“Thereafter, defendant received a text message from Awlaki telling defendant to call him, which defendant did,” the government memo discloses.

During the phone call, Awlaki asked that Abdulmutallab provide in writing the reasons he wanted to participate in violent jihad. After working on his response over the next three days Abdulmutallab was finally granted a meeting with Awlaki.

“Defendant was picked up and driven through the Yemeni desert. He eventually arrived at Awlaki’s house, and stayed there for three days. During that time, defendant met with Awlaki and the two men discussed martyrdom and jihad,” the sentencing memo notes.

“Defendant left Awlaki’s house, and was taken to another house, where he met AQAP bomb-maker Ibrahim Al Asiri. Defendant and Al Asiri discussed defendant’s desire to commit an act of jihad. Thereafter, Al Asiri discussed a plan for a martyrdom mission with Awlaki, who gave it final approval, and instructed defendant Abdulmutallab on it,” prosecutors noted.

The government filing also discloses that at an AQAP training camp Abdulmutallab met with Samir Khan a U.S. citizen who fled to Yemen and wrote the online English-language magazine Inspire dedicated to violent jihad and how-to ideas on terrorist attacks. Khan was also killed in the U.S. strike along with Awlaki.

Leading up to the attempted attack, the government’s memo noted that the bomb-maker personally gave Abdulmutallab the underwear bomb, and that Awalki “arranged for a professional film crew to film the [martyrdom] video. Awlaki assisted defendant in writing his martyrdom statement, and it was filmed over a period of two to three days.”

Noting his operational control over Abdulmutallab, the memo notes, “Although Awlaki gave defendant operational flexibility, Awlaki instructed defendant that the only requirements were that the attack be on a U.S. airliner, and that the attack take place over U.S. soil. Beyond that, Awlaki gave defendant discretion to choose the flight and date. “The government is requesting five life sentences for Abdulmutallab and is also asking that the judge release an FBI videotape showing a model of the underwear bomb and of an explosion with the same amount of explosive Abdulmutallab had in the bomb.

“Since [Abdulmutallab's] motivation to commit martyrdom appears to be great, I believe there is high probability that given the opportunity, he would try once again to commit an act of martyrdom, endangering his and other innocent lives,” Dr. Perry’s assessment noted.

Abdulmutallab traveled from Yemen to Africa via Ethiopia to Ghana to Nigeria before he flew to Amsterdam, where he boarded the flight  bound for Detroit. FBI officials believe that Abdulmutallab was wearing the device for much of his travels, and that moisture or the explosives becoming loose prevented the device from fully exploding.

The sentencing hearing is set for 1 p.m. on Feb. 16.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct112011

Slain al Qaeda Supporter's Kin Get Condolence Calls from State Dept.

MASSOUD HOSSAINI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The State Department called the family of slain al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula propagandist Samir Khan last week twice to offer their condolences, a spokeswoman for the department said Tuesday.

Khan, a U.S. citizen, was killed in the same CIA airstrike in Yemen on Sept. 30 that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, another U.S. citizen and the alleged inspiration for recent terror attempts on the United States.

A U.S. consular official, in keeping with standard practice when an American is killed abroad, phoned Khan’s next of kin “to express our sympathy with the family,” spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

“This was an effort to reach out to the family of an American citizen and see if any further assistance was required of us,” she said, adding that no request was made.

Nuland said there have been no calls to Awlaki’s family because they are all Yemeni and live in Yemen.

The first call was made on Monday to Khan’s uncle after he was appointed by the family as his next of kin. A second call was made to Khan’s father last Thursday, also expressing condolences. The calls were first reported by the Charlotte Observer, quoting Khan’s family.

Nuland said the delay in calling the family was caused by efforts to identify next of kin. She said she was unaware if there was any discussion on the calls about how Khan was killed.

The 25-year-old Khan was born in Saudi Arabia to a Pakistani family and later lived in the United States with his parents. He grew up in New York and then moved to North Carolina, where he began writing a pro-al Qaeda blog. He later traveled to Yemen, where he began publishing the al Qaeda magazine Inspire, which encouraged terror attacks on the West.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct102011

Al Qaeda Threatens Vengeance for Anwar Al-Awlaki Death

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the al Qaeda affiliate that U.S. officials say is one of the greatest dangers to the American homeland, released a statement Monday claiming it has "heroes... who will avenge" the death of U.S.-born al Qaeda member Anwar al-Awlaki.

Awlaki, a high-profile member of AQAP who was credited with inspiring or being directly involved in at least a dozen terror attacks, was killed in a CIA drone strike Sept. 30 along with several other suspected al Qaeda operatives, including American-born Samir Khan.

"The blood of the sheikh and his brethren will not go in vain," AQAP said in the statement published online Monday. "Behind him stand heroes who do not sleep on any grievance and who will avenge him soon, God willing."

The statement also criticizes the American government for killing Awlaki and Khan, "without proving any accusation against them."

"Where is the freedom, justice, human rights and respect of freedoms that they rant about?" the statement said.

Facing similar questions from political opponents such as Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, White House spokesperson Jay Carney told ABC News' Jake Tapper Awlaki was operationally involved in terrorist attacks, was "obviously" a terrorist recruiter and was actively plotting against Americans.

Carney specifically referenced two instances of terror plots in which Awlaki is believed to have been directly linked: the failed Christmas Day bombing in 2009 and the parcel bomb plot in 2010.

Without Awlaki, U.S. officials said AQAP is still a significant threat to the U.S.

"Without question, his death has dealt a major blow to the external operations of Al Qaeda's most operational affiliate, yet we assess that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains a significant threat to the homeland," National Counter-Terrorism Director Matthew Olsen told the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence last week.

FBI Director Robert Mueller, who spoke with Olsen, agreed.

"A strike against its leadership, even a signature one, does not eliminate the potential for retaliation and other acts by AQAP," Mueller said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Oct062011

US Officials: AQAP Still a Major Threat to Homeland

Tracy A. Woodward/The Washington Post/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Although Anwar Al-Awlaki's death is a significant blow to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the group remains a threat to the United States, National Counterterrorism Center director Matthew Olsen said Thursday in testimony before the House Intelligence Committee.

"Without question, his death has dealt a major blow to the external operations of al Qaeda's most operational affiliate, yet we assess that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains a significant threat to the homeland," Olsen said.

"Awlaki was the leader of external operations," FBI director Robert Mueller said. "He had taken a lead role planning and directing attacks on the homeland."

"Along with Samir Khan, Awlaki was committed to inspiring acts of terrorism from overseas...using the Internet to promote lone actor operations against the West. Despite this blow to their leadership, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains a significant threat to the homeland and we must maintain our vigilance in responding to this threat," Mueller said.

"A strike against its leadership, even a significant one, does not eliminate the potential for retaliation and other acts," Mueller said.

Making reference to the ongoing instability in Yemen, Olsen said, AQAP's "gains and the regime's governing challenges are increasing our concerns about the groups capability to conduct additional attacks targeting the homeland and U.S. interests overseas, as well as our concerns about the group's continuing propaganda efforts designed to inspire like-minded Western extremists."

Olsen testified before the House Intelligence Committee that even with Awlaki's death, he was concerned about information showing the continued links between AQAP and al-Shabaab in East Africa.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jun142011

CIA Ramping Up Counter-Terrorism with Drone Strikes in Yemen

CIA dot gov(WASHINGTON) -- U.S. officials say the CIA is planning targeted drone strikes in Yemen against al Qaeda militants in the country.

President Obama authorized the heightened counter-terrorism efforts in Yemen over a year ago, according to the Los Angeles Times, citing the increasing threat of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, who are responsible for the failed bombing of a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight on Christmas Day 2009 as well as cargo planes bound for the U.S. carrying bombs.

Extremists have recently taken advantage of the current unrest in Yemen.  President Ali Abdullah Saleh is recovering from injuries he suffered last week from an attack on his palace.  Saleh's association with the U.S. on matters of counter-terrorism have been sporadic, but the Yemeni president has approved similar strikes by the U.S. military in the past.

But because of different legal constraints, a CIA operation will allow for more freedom to carry out strikes even if Saleh revokes his approval of the military strikes.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Mar302011

Al Qaeda Tries to Grab a Piece of Arab Revolutions

Gadhafi is mocked in a page from Inspire magazine. Inspire magazine is an English language online magazine reported to be published by the organization Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- Al Qaeda, which some U.S. officials had called irrelevant to the revolts sweeping the Arab world, has made a slick bid to claim the revolutions with the newest issue of its English-language magazine.

The newly released fifth issue of Inspire, which appeared on Islamist websites overnight, is called "The Tsunami of Change," and includes the first post-revolution messages from wanted American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and al Qaeda number two Ayman al-Zawahiri.

In the cover story, al-Awlaki calls the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya a boon to al Qaeda and Islamic militants, and dismisses Gadhafi as a "lunatic." Al-Zawahiri's message lauds the revolts in Egypt and Tunisia, but does not mention Libya. Another story mocks Gadhafi as a "clown" and urges the rebels in Libya onward: "We ask our brothers and sisters in Libya to continue standing up against the regime and to show patience in the face of [Gadhafi's] tyranny until he falls."

A full-page poster mocks Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh by showing an unflattering picture of Saleh and asking, "Hey Ali, Mubarak just fell -- guess who's joining the party next?" The bottom of the page says, in small type, "This ad is brought to you by A Cold Diss."

Inspire is the English-language magazine of the Yemen-based Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), which is battling Saleh's regime. The trademark joking pop culture references are thought to be the work of American-born jihadi Samir Khan, who apparently launched Inspire after moving to Yemen.

U.S. government officials and terrorism experts have largely declared the recent Arab revolutions a sign of al Qaeda's demise, saying the Islamist terror group is unable to garner significant popular support. For months, few, if any messages from al Qaeda leaders have commented on the removal of Arab regimes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya or the unrest in at least four other Arab nations.

Al-Awlaki's four-page article, "The Tsunami of Change," is an effort to spin the recent events as good for Islamic militancy and radicalism. He quotes U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates in an effort to refute their shared assessment that the uprisings in the Middle East exposed al Qaeda's lack of relevance.

"The Mujahidin around the world are going through a moment of elation," al-Awlaki writes. "I wonder whether the West is aware of the upsurge of mujahidin activity in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, [Saudi] Arabia, Algeria and Morocco?"

Referring to former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, a close ally of Washington for 30 years, al-Awlaki said the Americans "trashed him." The cleric then quotes a famous American Muslim: "As Malcolm [X] would have liked to say, 'He's been bamboozled.' America duped him, then dumped him."

But the Yemeni-American cleric acknowledges that it is too soon to know whether the various revolutions will result in the creation of Islamic states.

"The outcome doesn't have to be an Islamic government for us to consider what is occurring to be a step in the right direction," al-Awlaki writes. "Whatever the outcome is, our mujahidin brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the rest of the Muslim world will get a chance to breathe again after three decades of suffocation."

"No matter how pro-Western or oppressive the next government [of Libya] proves to be," writes al-Awlaki, "we do not see it possible for the world to produce another lunatic of the same caliber of the Colonel."

Al-Awlaki is believed by U.S. intelligence and military officials to be behind several terror attempts in the U.S. and thought to be hiding among Yemeni tribes. President Obama placed him on a target list more than a year ago.

Reports from Libya have described some of the rebels in the current war as jihadists and veterans of battles against U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Chad's leader has claimed that al Qaeda militants stole missiles from a Libyan weapons depot. Despite such assertions by al Awlaki and others, U.S. officials have said there has been little indication -- if any -- of significant involvement by jihadists in any of the Arab revolutions.

U.S. Admiral James Stavridis, the NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said Tuesday that that in Libya there had been only "flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda, Hezbollah [links.]"

"The intelligence that I'm receiving at this point makes me feel that the leadership that I'm seeing are responsible men and women who are struggling against Col. Gadhafi," said Stavridis. "At this point, I don't have detail sufficient to say that there's a significant al Qaeda presence or any other other terrorist presence in and among these folks."

Said Stavridis, "We'll continue to look at that very closely -- it's part of doing due diligence -- as we move forward on any kind of relationship."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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