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Al Qaeda shutting shop in Pakistan, moving to north Africa?

December 26, 2011 12:33 IST

Senior Al Qaeda members are feared to be moving to north Africa to open up a new front after being targeted in Pakistan.

A British official said several Al Qaeda members have been killed in US drone attacks and added 'only a handful of the key players' remain alive.

Sources close to Islamist groups in north Africa told the Guardian that at least two senior Al Qaida operatives have already reached Libya, provoking fears that north Africa could become a new "theatre of jihad" in future.

"A group of very experienced figures from north Africa left camps in Afghanistan's [north-eastern] Kunar province where they have been based for several years and travelled back across the Middle East. Some got stopped but a few got through," a source said.

It is, however, unclear whether they are shifting to north Africa to achieve greater security or to exploit the current scenario after the Arab spring revolution.

The Al Qaeda move might signal shifting of its centre of operations to north Africa, which is the homeland of majority of its members, as increasing number of volunteers are making makeshift bases in Pakistan's tribal areas.

Officials described Al Qaeda's activity as 'effectively marginal' as compared to other events occurring in the region, and viewed local networks like the Haqqani in North Waziristan as a more potent threat.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague warned that mercenaries ousted from Libya could join radical terror group, Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which aims to topple the Algerian government.

Sources in Libyan mainstream Islamist groups said there is evidence to indicate that grassroot activism by individuals linked to Al Qaeda could lead to formation of new terror groups

Source: ANI