U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a U.N. meeting on the Sahel region of North Africa that Mali was becoming a breeding ground for groups like al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb given the lingering conflict there.
"And they (AQIM) are working with other violent extremists to undermine the democratic transitions underway in North Africa, as we tragically saw in Benghazi," she said.
The U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was attacked Sept. 11. U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three of his staff members died in the assault. Clinton said the U.S. government was working closely with Libyan and regional officials to find those responsible for the attack.
Military group Ansar al-Sharia was suspected of having a role in the assault. In an interview with the BBC, Ansar al-Sharia commander Mohammed Ali al-Zawawi denied responsibility, however.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said last week that "possibly" elements of AQIM were involved.