Gaddafi's fall might allow al-Qaeda affiliates take over southern Libya: Analysts
Washington, Mar 26 (ANI): The fall of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi might see the al-Qaeda affiliated Islamic terrorist groups filling up the void, US analysts have said.
Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) that was branded by the US as a terrorist organisation in May 2010 has been operating from its base in Algeria, and has now extended its reach to the borders of Mauritania, Niger, Mali, Chad and Libya, Fox News reports.
Gaddafi had earlier not only provided intelligence on the terrorists' operations to the US, but has also publicly spoken out against them.
Branding the group members as 'bad Muslims', Gaddafi said: "The security forces found a mosque in al-Zawiya. In a mosque! Weapons, alcohol, and their corpses - all mixed up together."
Now that the Libyan dictator has gone into hiding, many analysts have raised concerns whether southern Libya will become a magnet for jihadist groups.
Cully Stimson, a former deputy assistant secretary of defense who is now a fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said that the al-Qaeda affiliate might turn out to be an adaptive enemy.
"AQIM has found their niche. They are going to exploit that to the degree they can. They have the ability in the strategic interest in moving and being adaptable. One of the most high-profile cases was a British hostage Edwin Dyer, who was murdered after lengthy negotiations for his release stalled," Stimson added.
US Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz has described the AQIM as a "danger to the region".
Insisting that Gaddafi might be overplaying the threat for selfish reasons, Cretz said: "It's clearly a card that he thinks he might be able to get some benefit of. It's patently ridiculous. But do we have concerns about AQIM? Certainly, we do." (ANI)
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