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Strike mulled against Algerian terrorist

Feb. 9, 2013 at 1:50 PM

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- The man believed behind a January attack on an Algerian gas production facility could be added to the U.S. kill or capture list, intelligence officials say.

While some senior U.S. officials want Mokhtar Belmokhtar added to a targeted-killing list, others are wary of spreading American involvement in anti-terrorism activities to North Africa, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

U.S. drone strikes have been focused on Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan, while feeding intelligence about Belmokhtar to allies. His group is an offshoot of the al-Qaida affiliate al-Qaida in the Mahgreb (AQIM).

Although Belmokhtar is unlikely to threaten the United States, officials who want to target him say he is still a danger because he is carrying out an al-Qaida agenda.

Critics of such a plan, largely from within the U.S. State Department, disagreed about how much AQIM directly threatens the United States and have argued such action would entangle the United States in local and regional conflicts.

While the debate remains unresolved, the United States is utilizing intelligence from around the world to identify and locate the people involved in the Algerian attack, the report said.

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