Three Americans were among the more than three dozen foreign workers killed after a four-day hostage crisis at a BP joint-venture gas facility in Algeria. The terrorist attack is yet another sign of growing al Qaeda cells in north and west Africa, specifically al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM). A Pentagon spokesman said this affiliate of the notorious terrorist group was involved in the Algeria attack. AQIM and other radical Islamist groups pose an increasing threat to U.S. and Western interests.
In Mali, jihadists are now being countered by French forces fighting alongside soldiers from neighboring West African countries. ABC News’ Bazi Kanani reports from Mali’s capital, Bamako, that the presence of French soldiers is a huge relief to people there. Just two weeks ago Mali’s government knew there was no way its own army could stop the advance of the jihadists who have taken over more than half of the country. But this war is just getting started and now—especially after the attack in Algeria—there is great concern about how the militants may try to strike back. U.S. citizens living in Mali have been told it’s time to consider leaving.
Meanwhile, U.S. Air Force planes are now arriving at a base in southern Mali. C-17 transport planes are carrying in French soldiers, equipment and vehicles. The U.S. has said it will not send combat troops into Mali but it is supporting the mission. The U.S. is providing logistical help, such as the transport flights. It has also increased intelligence sharing with France and sent military trainers into neighboring West African countries which are sending in their troops.
For perspective on the threats posed by AQIM and the U.S. role in this region of Africa, Christiane speaks with Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.). He is the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.