North Africa New Test for U.S. as Terror Cells Spread

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'The bloody resolution of the hostage crisis in Algeria has brought into focus the broader challenges the United States and its allies face in confronting terrorist cells that have taken up sanctuary across northern Africa... In taking on the militants, Western nations are confronting multinational bands that are often able to move with relative freedom across porous African borders. And those cells have many inviting targets to choose from: the region is rich with oil, gas, uranium and other international ventures that clearly represent Western interests and in some cases are poorly defended... But the militants' offensive in Mali and the attack in Algeria has demonstrated that the groups have a broader reach than anticipated and are prepared to take the offensive. The French intervention that followed has introduced a new variable in the equation... 'The ground has completely shifted.'

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