Clinton Warns Of Growing Threat From Al-Qaeda Affiliates In North Africa

“The fact is they’re terrorists, they’re extremists, they have designs on overthrowing existing governments, even these new Islamist governments.”

Jason Reed / Reuters

WASHINGTON — Outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Wednesday warned that the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi Libya is part of a broader terrorist threat facing the United States and established governments in North Africa.

“The terrorist attacks in Benghazi are part of a broader strategic challenge to America and our partners in North Africa,” Clinton told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday afternoon.

Clinton offered an unusually bleak take, for this administration, on the “Arab Spring,” saying the regional move toward democracy has also sent the Middle East and North Africa into a new period of turbulence “shattering security forces across the region” while northern Mali has become a safe haven for terrorist organizations.

Clinton also said the attack was part of a pattern of growing attacks on diplomatic staff over the last several decades and that “any clear eyed examination … must begin with this sobering fact.”

Clinton’s sober warning to the House, and earlier to the Senate, marks a somber note to the end of Clinton’s tenure at the State Department. For instance, during the Senate hearing Clinton told Sen. John Barrasso that, “core al-Qaeda certainly has been [decimated] … what we are seeing now are people migrating back to other parts of the world.”

“They are effectively affiliates,” Clinton went on, adding that “the fact is they’re terrorists, they’re extremists, they have designs on overthrowing existing governments, even these new Islamist governments.”

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