As U.S. counterterrorism officials seek greater capability to combat terrorist groups in Africa, the Obama administration is considering asking Congress to approve expanded authority to allow military operations in places such as Mali, Nigeria and Libya, where perceived threats to U.S. security are proliferating.
Broad disagreements remain, however, regarding the nature of these threats and how best to engage them. The diversity of potential targets also raises legal questions, as many of the terrorist groups operating in Africa are not necessarily affiliated with al-Qaida’s flagship franchise, now located in Pakistan.
“The conditions today are vastly different then they were previously,” Gen. Carter Ham, head of U.S. Africa Command, said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal. “There are now non-al-Qaida-associated groups that present significant threats to the United States.” Ham later said the debate over new authorization was a “worthy discussion.”