By Elise Labott
Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories and opinion pieces surrounding the Aspen Security Forum currently taking place in Aspen, Colorado. Security Clearance is a media sponsor of the event, which is taking place from July 17 to 20 in Aspen, Colorado.
The former head of U.S. forces in Africa said the September 11, 2012, attack on the American mission in Benghazi quickly appeared to be a terrorist attack and not a spontaneous protest.
It was clear "pretty quickly that this was not a demonstration. This was a violent attack," former Gen. Carter Ham told the Aspen Security Forum on Friday. Ham is the former chief of U.S. Africa Command, commonly known as AFRICOM.
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.
By Joe Sterling
President Barack Obama will nominate a new leader for the Pentagon command in charge of Africa.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said Thursday the president is picking Gen. David Rodriguez to replace Gen. Carter Ham as head of the U.S. Africa Command.
Rodriguez is the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, responsible for the training, equipping and oversight of active duty, National Guard and reserve soldiers.
The choice comes during a turbulent time across the continent. Political turmoil rages in Libya, fighting continues to engulf the fractious state of Somalia, a militant presence has emerged in Mali, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has made its presence known in northern Africa, and sectarian strife plagues Nigeria.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
Just three months ago, the four-star chief of the U.S. Africa Command warned of a growing threat from al Qaeda and other militant groups in Libya.
"There is a real concern in Libya. As Libya is coming out of the revolution and forming its new government, there very clearly are those who wish to undermine the formation of that government," said Gen. Carter Ham in a speech to senior military and civilian officials from Africa, Europe and the U.S.
"We see some worrying indicators that al Qaeda and others are seeking to establish a presence in Libya," Ham warned. Ham often worked closely with the late Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
Ham has been trying to establish the initial stages of a military relationship with Libya, but the effort has been slowed by the presence and influence of armed militias, such as those suspected of being involved in the attack. Ham noted back in June the problem of bringing even more mainstream groups under the control of the central government. FULL POST