Economic Development in West Africa Can Counter Terror

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Although the United States counterterrorism campaign is focused on key battlegrounds in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen, the threat posed by al Qaeda in North Africa remains a concern for U.S. intelligence officials. The U.S. has partnered with France to combat extremist groups in the North African region, with France taking the lead in conducting operations. But despite this military support, many North African countries still lack adequate leadership and social systems that would enable them to address many of the root causes that lead individuals to join al Qaeda and the region’s terrorist movements in the first place. The Cipher Brief’s Bennett Seftel sat down with David Shedd, former Acting Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, to discuss the al Qaeda threat in North Africa as well as how the U.S. can more effectively beat back the group.

The Cipher Brief: In the last few years, we’ve seen al Qaeda’s offshoot in North Africa expand into Mali and more recently into Burkina Faso. How much of a threat does Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) pose in the Sahel region as well as to the U.S.?

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