American Official Warns That Qaddafi May Lash Out With New Terrorist Attacks

Eric Schmitt
The New York Times

The United States is bracing for possible Libyan-backed terrorist attacks, President Obama’s top counterterrorism official said on Friday.

The official, John O. Brennan, said that the military attacks on civilians ordered in recent days by Libya’s leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, coupled with his track record as a sponsor of terrorism, had heightened worries within the administration as an international coalition threatens military action against Libya.

Asked if American officials feared whether Colonel Qaddafi could open a new terrorism front, Mr. Brennan said: “Qaddafi has the penchant to do things of a very concerning nature. We have to anticipate and be prepared for things he might try to do to flout the will of the international community.”

Among the threats the United States is focusing on is Libya’s stockpile of deadly mustard gas, he said…

…Mr. Brennan acknowledged that the political turmoil in the Middle East in the past three months had breached or weakened counterterrorism cooperation among some Arab countries. But he added that the United States had taken unspecified steps in recent months to offset its losses in that area. Among those steps may be more electronic eavesdropping, spy satellite coverage and more informants on the ground, independent intelligence specialists said.

“We’ve been able to weather some of these storms, but clearly there have been effects,” he said. “We need to work hard to ensure that the cooperation that existed before with certain countries continues.”

Mr. Brennan declined to provide details of what the United States was doing or which countries it was focusing on, but it is no secret that American spy agencies have worked closely with counterparts in countries like Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen…

…Egypt’s governing military council released the younger brother of Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s second in command, from prison on Thursday after holding him for a decade on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the government.

Asked about the release of this prominent prisoner, Mr. Brennan barely disguised his frustration with Egyptian military officials. “I’m concerned if any individual who is involved in terrorism is released either intentionally or as a result of the lack of security,” he said…

The complete article is at The New York Times.

Comments are closed.