U.S. intel presses for expanded satellite surveillance of Al Qaida in North Africa

Special to WorldTribune.com

WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community has intensified coverage of North Africa and its Al Qaida network.

Officials said the intelligence community was ordering additional electronic and satellite intelligence on North Africa and the Sahel region amid the war in Mali.

Gen. David Rodriguez.  /AP
Gen. David Rodriguez. /AP

The officials said a key goal was to track the movement of Al Qaida Organization in the Islamic Maghreb, based in at least six countries in the region.

“This is a requirement of our regional allies and is also in our own interest,” an official said.

Officials said the U.S. military as well as intelligence agencies were clamoring for additional resources in North Africa. They cited Africa Command, directed to build a coalition against AQIM, with a presence in Algeria, Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria and Tunisia.

Africom, now led by Gen. David Rodriguez, has been a driving
force in the need for greater satellite intelligence on North Africa.
Officials cited the Al Qaida-aligned attack on Algeria’s liquefied natural
gas facility at Ein Amenas in January 2013 in which some 40 foreigners were

“Africom is working closely with the State Department, which also
supports greater resources for the region,” the official said.

The U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation has formed an Africa working
group to lobby Washington to expand intelligence efforts in the continent.
The foundation said it would work with the Defense Department, State
Department, Africom and special operations forces.

“We got to get smart about that continent if we’re going to operate
there,” foundation director Keith Masback told the Foreign Policy website.

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