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4/7/04 - TERRORISM IN AFRICA - 2004-04-07

Al-Qaida and other terrorist groups are seeking recruits and support in Africa. U.S. General Charles Wald told the Voice of America that many African governments recognize the threat that these terrorist groups pose:

"People are worried about instability and fundamentalism and that threat of terrorism.”

The best way to defeat terrorism is by building the capacity of nations to defeat terrorism within their own borders. The U.S. has launched several counter-terrorism programs to assist local African military and law enforcement personnel with communications, intelligence, and surveillance. General Wald says that several countries are participating:

"Mali, Niger, and Chad, and Mauritania to a certain extent, and certainly Algeria and even Tunisia. . .have really stepped up to show in regional way that they're not going to let their sovereign countries be abused by terrorists."

Under the Pan Sahel Initiative, the U.S. provides training and equipment to the security forces of Mauritania, Chad, Niger, and Mali so they can better police their own borders. Recently, troops from Chad, Niger, and Mali cooperated with Algerian security forces in dealing with the Salafist Group for Call and Combat. Some members of this terrorist group were forced out of Mali and captured by Algerian security forces. Others fled to Niger and Chad, where they were routed by forces of those countries.

The fight against terrorism is a struggle for freedom: freedom from fear. In Africa -- just as everywhere else -- this struggle will require strength, moral courage, and patience. “Against the murderous ambitions of terrorists,” says President George W. Bush, “the United States and African countries are working for a common purpose.”