North African terror groups working with Pakistani Taliban: US

Washington, Sep 15 (IANS): Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an Algerian-based group, is believed to be working with Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan, according to US officials studying the degree to which terrorist splinter groups are working together

"We've definitely seen the cross-pollination of TTP and AQIM," an official said at a Pentagon background briefing Wednesday on the study as US and allied forces dismantle the core of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The officials confirmed that terrorist groups also are trying to gain hold in Libya after the fall of Moammar Gadhafi. "They're always looking for a target of opportunity," one official said.

So far, however, the the Libyan Transition National Council has rejected them, the officials said. "It certainly seems that they have gone to great lengths to disassociate themselves," one official said of the council.

Terrorist groups have also expanded in other parts of North Africa, though, including al Shabaab in Somalia, Boko Haram in Nigeria.

These groups form temporary alliances, but mostly are focused on their own regional issues and have not formed large mergers, the officials said.

"They'll remain a concern," officials said explaining the nature of regionalized, radical Islamist groups that have proliferated in the Middle East and North Africa.

"There is an element of defeating the organization ... that is separate from the ideological component. You can get them to be operationally incapable, but that doesn't destroy the idea of Al Qaeda."

Al Qaeda maintains a reduced funding stream, still provides training, and is "intent on transnational attacks," an official said. "They'll remain a concern, but these regional nodes are the way of the future."


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