(NEW YORK) — A senior Algerian official says that a militant captured following the deadly siege at a BP natural gas complex in the Sahara claims some Egyptian members of the terrorist group that occupied the facility last week also took part in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last Sept. 11.
According to a story in Wednesday’s New York Times, the militant was one of three kidnappers taken alive by Algerian special forces while 29 others were killed along with at least 38 hostages, three of them Americans who worked at the plant.
The Algerian official quoted by the Times did not say if the captured militant’s Benghazi claims could be considered viable or how his confession came about.
If true, however, it would suggest that terrorists are joining forces throughout North Africa, particularly after the so-called Arab spring and the fall of Col. Mommar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya.
What might boost the veracity of the possible Algeria-Benghazi connection are reports from U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence officials that Ansar al-Shariah members who led the attack on the Benghazi consulate have links to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a group currently active in Mali.
However, American officials don’t believe AQIM was involved in the attack on the consulate where U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
More details about the Algerian hostage situation are expected to be unveiled on Wednesday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton testifies before Congress about failures of the State Department to adequately protect the consulate in Libya from terrorists.
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