US sees threat from Maghreb Al-Qaeda

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The United States said Friday that it considered an Al-Qaeda-affiliated gang in North Africa to be a "common threat" after French-backed Mauritanian forces launched a deadly raid.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said the United States was not involved in the desert operation but has been sharing intelligence with both France and Mauritania on extremist networks.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, an offshoot of Osama bin Laden's network, is believed to be holding a 78-year-old French aid worker and has been responsible for the murder of a British hostage.

Crowley said the group was "a threat first and foremost in the region."

"We've seen over time that threat emanate to portions of Europe. Of course, it has the potential to threaten the United States as well," he told reporters.

"We have exchanged... intelligence information and security cooperation with these countries because we see this as a common threat."

Mauritania said six members of the gang were killed in the operation, although there was no word on the state of the purported hostage.

© 2010 AFP

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