U.S. concerned over Libya weapons reaching al Qaeda

Reuters News
Posted: Jun 01, 2011 7:18 AM
U.S. concerned over Libya weapons reaching al Qaeda

ALGIERS (Reuters) - The United States has real concerns about weapons from Libya ending up in the hands of al Qaeda, the commander of the U.S. military's Africa Command said on Wednesday.

"There is a very real concern for all the regional partners, and the United States shares this concern, about the proliferation of weapons from Libya to other places, including those under the control of al Qaeda and others," General Carter F. Ham told a news conference.

Libya's neighbor Algeria has said it believes the chaos inside Libya, and the large quantities of weapons circulating there, is being exploited by al Qaeda's North African branch, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

A senior Algerian security source told Reuters convoys of pick-up trucks carrying weapons had been crossing the border from Libya to Niger, and from there to northern Mali where AQIM has bases in the desert.

"To control this proliferation of weapons will require the cooperative efforts of all involved and I have been encouraged to note the meetings that have occurred between Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Niger," said Ham.

"The United States is working with each of these countries to find ways in which U.S. support might be helpful. It could be in the sharing of information, it could be assisting in technical ways with border security," he said.

(Reporting by Christian Lowe; Writing by Jan Harvey; Editing by Jon Boyle)