U.S. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta arrives in Rome, Jan. 15, 2013. Panetta is on a six-day trip to Europe to visit with defense counterparts and troops. DOD photo by Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo
Panetta: 'No Question' US Counterterrorism Campaign In Africa Led To Mali Conflict -- The Hill
Washington's increasingly aggressive counterterrorism campaign to crack down on al Qaeda-affiliated terror cells in Africa may have set the stage for the group's resurgence in northern Mali, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted on Monday.
"There's no question, as you confront [Islamic extremists] in Yemen, in Somalia, in Libya, that they're going to ultimately try to relocate. So, you know that certainly, I think, is a consequence," Panetta said Monday.
"Obviously with the turmoil in Mali, they found it convenient to be able to use that situation to gain some traction there," he told reporters while en route to a series of meetings with top Western European defense leaders set for this week.
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My Comment: There are other factors involved. The Libyan civil war ended up with scores of extremists having weapons and money to fight somewhere else .... and Mali with it's dysfunctional government/military, vasts tracts of land, and relative isolation .... was a perfect place for these groups to migrate to.