A general's warning about militants in Libya
September 24th, 2012
10:21 AM ET

A general's warning about militants in Libya

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.

More: Intel chairman doubts Libya attack linked to video

"Now how do you bring those disparate organizations under some degree of central government control?  How do you use those organizations to the benefit of the people? How do you transform some of them into border police, into national police, into maritime police and other areas of government where they can continue to be valuable contributors to overall Libyan security?"

Ham made much of the same case as early as February of this year in testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, when he testified that there were "some small pockets" of "foreign fighters" in Libya.

"There are remnants of that and there are indications that al Qaeda senior leadership is seeking to re-establish those networks, and that's one of the challenges that lays ahead for us."

As commander of U.S. military operations across Africa, Ham would be the senior U.S. officer in charge, if the president were to order a military strike against potential targets believed to be responsible for the attack. He is considered to be extremely knowledgeable about al Qaeda movements in Africa, as was Stevens.

Ham has particularly made the case that al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb poses an increasing concern and that the group is operating unconstrained in a large portion of Mali and coordinating with other extremist elements across North Africa.

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  13. Vince Crawley

    Thanks for referencing our event at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies back in June.
    I believe CNN taped this, but the full video of Ham's remarks also is on our YouTube site at: http://youtu.be/cxOyYVFWxQs
    In addition, our article, "AFRICOM’s Ham Says U.S. Interested in Stable, Secure Africa More Than Ever: can be found on our website at: http://africacenter.org/2012/06/africom-ham-at-africa-center-seminar/
    The full transcript is over on AFRICOM's website at: http://www.africom.mil/getArticle.asp?art=8039&lang=0

    Vince Crawley
    Africa Center for Strategic Studies

    September 26, 2012 at 9:15 am | Reply
  14. Peter Singhatey

    Reblogged this on peter singhatey.

    September 25, 2012 at 9:39 am | Reply
  15. fiftyfive55

    There's militants in the mideast ??? who'da thunk it ?

    September 25, 2012 at 7:20 am | Reply
  16. krm1007 ©™

    Let us focus on the causes of terrorism and try to fix the issues. They have been hanging out there for over 60+ years ...in India....in Israel..and now in the United States...England...Austrailia...Sweeden....all over the Europe. Let us focus on the victims of 9/11 and help the families more than we have done. Let us take care of their kids and put them through college. Let us take care of their wives/husbands/parents. Let us take care of families whose dear ones gave their lives in fighting al Qaeda terrorists...in Pakistan...in Afghanistan....in Iraq....in Yemen....in Africas. Let us focus on the victims of Pakistani sponsored terror networks....Haqqani...Pakistani Taliban...Hazbollah in Iran...Hammaz in Palestine. Let us honor US/NATO soldiers from all over the world who sacrificed their lives believing they were fighting for freedom, believing they were fighting evil terrorists in Pakistan....in Afghanistan....in Iraq....in Libya...in Syria...in Yemen....in Egypt....in Africas. They are so many. Just in last ten years, terrorist sponsoring countries like Pakistan, Iran, Pelestine have change our lives once and for all.

    September 24, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Reply
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  18. mullah jim

    why do u amerikkaners continue to antagonize us? you place a general named " ham" in charge of the magreb.

    September 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    • esoll

      That is funny... did not see it.

      September 24, 2012 at 4:23 pm | Reply
  19. Gerard

    That's the problem with the disconnect between the military and the civilan leaders. They dont listen to the guy on the ground that actually knows whats going on until its too late.

    September 24, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  20. Ryan

    what do you expect them to bring to your team and you

    September 24, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
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    General, Let's be proactive for a change and attend to the following task at hand before they do us in. Hoo-yah !!



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  22. Andrey

    I wonder what took him so long!
    That was all too clear from the start: only politicians could ignore that, not military! It is probably so obvious to anybody now that they are allowed to talk about it to journalists!

    September 24, 2012 at 11:21 am | Reply

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