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How much of a threat is Al Qaeda in North Africa?

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A report published in The New York Times on Tuesday is likely to fuel concerns that North Africa is emerging as a major new front in the US-led global war on terror.

In the report, an elusive Algerian insurgent leader confirmed that his group had forged contacts with Al Qaeda in 2004, and that it now regards attacks on US territory as legitimate.

In a recorded response to questions from The New York Times, insurgent leader Abdelmalek Droukdal said:

"If the U.S. administration sees that its war against the Muslims is legitimate, then what makes us believe that our war on its territories is not legitimate?"...
"Everyone must know that we will not hesitate in targeting it whenever we can and wherever it is on this planet," he said.

Mr. Droukdal's group, based in the hills east of Algiers, is a terror franchise that terms itself Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM). The group is responsible for numerous attacks in North Africa, including several deadly bombings in Algiers. The goals of Algerian insurgents at the time of their resurgence under the banner of AQIM were outlined by The Christian Science Monitor.

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