In campaign speech after campaign speech this year, President Obama frequently said some variation on the following line: “I said we’d refocus on the people who actually attacked us on 9/11, and today, al Qaeda is on the run, and Osama bin Laden is dead.”
If only it were true.
Al-Qaeda is reportedly carving out its own country in Mali.
The AP reported:
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Deep inside caves, in remote desert bases, in the escarpments and cliff faces of northern Mali, Islamic fighters are burrowing into the earth, erecting a formidable set of defenses to protect what has essentially become Al Qaeda’s new country.
They have used the bulldozers, earth movers and Caterpillar machines left behind by fleeing construction crews to dig what residents and local officials describe as an elaborate network of tunnels, trenches, shafts and ramparts. In just one case, inside a cave large enough to drive trucks into, they have stored up to 100 drums of gasoline, guaranteeing their fuel supply in the face of a foreign intervention, according to experts.
Northern Mali is now the biggest territory held by Al Qaeda and its allies. And as the world hesitates, delaying a military intervention, the extremists who seized control of the area earlier this year are preparing for a war they boast will be worse than the decade-old struggle in Afghanistan.
“Al-Qaeda never owned Afghanistan,” said former United Nations diplomat Robert Fowler, a Canadian kidnapped and held for 130 days by Al Qaeda’s local chapter, whose fighters now control the main cities in the north. “They do own northern Mali.”