UNITED NATIONS, June 29 (UPI) -- The core of al-Qaida is weaker than ever but associated groups in Africa are becoming more problematic, a U.N. official said.
Several key al-Qaida leaders are dead or in custody. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the architect of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States is held at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and last year Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. forces in Pakistan.
Mike Smith, executive director of the U.N. Counter-terrorism Committee, told the United Nations' news service that al-Qaida has grown weaker since the Sept. 11 attacks. On the other hand, affiliates like Somalia's al-Shabaab, Yemen's al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb are growing more powerful.
"We have seen in recent months that they (AQIM) have had considerable success in the north of Mali where, allied with other forces there, they seem to have actually taken control of some territory," he said. "That is a very worrying development."
A U.S. military leader this week said African al-Qaida groups may be coordinating their efforts in the region.
Smith added that an effective counter-terrorism strategy was to counter the narrative that encourages militancy.
"One area that I think we are going to see a lot of countries talk about is the importance of dialogue and countering the appeal of terrorism," he said.
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