January 31st, 2013
06:12 PM ET

Emboldened al Qaeda group seeking more Western targets to attack

By Barbara Starr

U.S. officials believe extremists across northern Africa, emboldened by the terror attack on a natural gas plant in Algeria, are growing more daring.

A senior American intelligence official tells CNN that "what we have seen is intelligence suggesting a desire to carry out more attacks" against western and U.S. interests in the region.

The United States is not aware of any specific threats, the official said.

But one of those believed to be plotting is Moktar Belmoktar, a veteran militant who has claimed responsibility for the attack this month on the BP facility in eastern Algeria that left at least 37 hostages dead.
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Filed under: Afghanistan • Africa • Al Qaeda • Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) • Algeria • Carter Ham • Intelligence • Libya • Mali • Military • Niger • Pakistan • Terrorism • US Africa Command
January 31st, 2013
02:29 AM ET

Five things Chuck Hagel may be asked about

By Matt Smith

When the Senate Armed Services Committee is gaveled into session Thursday, Chuck Hagel is likely to face some sharp questions from many of his old colleagues.

If confirmed as secretary of defense, the one-time infantry sergeant and twice-wounded Vietnam veteran would be the first former enlisted man to lead the Pentagon. The former Republican senator from Nebraska gets his chance to answer questions Thursday morning during his confirmation hearing, and here are five subjects where he can expect them.

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Hagel to focus on present, not past, in testimony
January 31st, 2013
12:34 AM ET

Hagel to focus on present, not past, in testimony

By Jessica Yellin and Adam Aigner-Treworgy

When former Sen. Chuck Hagel appears before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday, don’t expect him to dwell on controversial statements from his past. Instead, allies say, he’ll focus on the present.

He will testify that if confirmed to be the next Secretary of Defense, he will be fully supportive of the president’s policies, including a preference for diplomacy but a willingness to use force, an Obama administration official working on the senator’s confirmation hearing told CNN.

Hagel has been slammed for his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran, and critics have questioned his support for Israel. This official says Hagel will testify Thursday morning that he believes Iran is a state sponsor of terror; he supports the president’s sanctions strategy against Iran and believes all options should be on the table including the military option. He’ll also testify that it’s his view that Hezbollah is a terrorist organization.

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