Clinton: Al-Qaida May Be Linked To Libya Attack

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has suggested a connection between al-Qaida in North Africa and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. She did not give any further details on what role the al-Qaida affiliate may have played in the attack

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.


Secretary of State Hillary Clinton acknowledged yesterday that there may be a link between the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and al-Qaida's North African affiliate. That makes her the highest level official to publically link al-Qaida to the attack that killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens. Clinton's remarks came at the United Nations in New York. She's been there meeting with Arab leaders talking of boosting democracy and fighting extremism. Here's NPR's Michele Kelemen.

MICHELE KELEMEN, BYLINE: At a meeting that focused on the crisis in the African nation of Mali, Secretary Clinton sounded the alarms about violent extremists who she says are destroying cultural sites, committing human rights abuses, and trying to impose what she calls their brutal ideology on the country.

SECRETARY HILLARY CLINTON: And nearly 500,000 people have been displaced from their homes, and four and-a-half million more are suffering from dwindling food supplies. This is not only a humanitarian crisis, it is a powder keg that the international community cannot afford to ignore.

KELEMEN: But it's not only Mali that concerns her. A military coup toppled the president there and left a power vacuum. And now, Clinton says, al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb and other groups have been launching attacks from northern Mali into neighboring countries.

CLINTON: Now, with a larger safe haven and increased freedom to maneuver, terrorists are seeking to extend their reach and their networks in multiple directions. And they are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions underway in North Africa as we tragically saw in Benghazi.

KELEMEN: She did not give any further details on what role the al-Qaida affiliate may have played in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. A top counterterrorism official told Congress recently that the U.S. is looking into possible connections with Libyan militias. While the FBI continues its investigation, State Department officials have avoided answering any questions about the attack that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.

On the campaign trail, Republicans have accused the Obama administration of initially downplaying the terrorist threat. Michele Kelemen, NPR News, New York.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.