While Europe’s latest terror threat stems from militants in Pakistan, a potentially greater menace lies just across the Mediterranean: Well-organized and financed Islamic terrorists from al-Qaida’s North African offshoot.
Over the last month alone, the group has been accused of seizing five French nationals and two Africans from a mining town in Niger, part of its effort to make millions by kidnapping Europeans and getting ransoms. It is also blamed for a truck bombing last Saturday in Algeria that left five soldiers dead.
Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb effectively rules a wide, lawless swath of the Sahara and is trying to overthrow Algeria’s government. It’s active online and media-savvy, and has the globally recognized al-Qaida brand name. It has also sparked arrests in Spain and France.
The question now is how far it has the will and means to turn its anger on Europe.
French and U.S. counterintelligence officials suggest AQIM’s logistics and networks aren’t yet mature enough to stage an attack on a European capital, but say it’s a broad and constant threat. France’s prime minister said Friday that the group is in touch with fellow fighters in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
What do readers think? Is AQIM a major threat to Europe?