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PARIS - Some of the people who attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had links to al-Qaida's North Africa arm, a top U.S. military official said Wednesday, adding that it remained unclear if the terror network led or organized the deadly assault whose victims included an American ambassador.
Al-Qaida links had been suspected in the attack on Sept. 11, but not publicly detailed.
"Clearly some of these individuals have some linkages to AQIM," or al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, Gen. Carter Ham, the head of the U.S. military's Africa Command, told reporters in Paris. "That's not to say that this was an AQIM-planned or organized or led activity." He did not elaborate.
U.S. Ambassador in Libya Chris Stevens and three others were killed in the attack in Benghazi. Investigations are under way into what happened. The assault occurred around the same time that protests erupted in Muslim countries over an anti-Islam film made in the United States.
There has been controversy over the U.S. response to the consulate attack, and the Pentagon and the State Department are assessing what additional or improved arrangements might be necessary to secure U.S. diplomatic outposts in the Middle East.
Ham also discussed African and international efforts toward a possible military intervention in northern Mali, which is controlled by AQIM and other extremists. The United States and France, both worried about the region becoming a terrorist haven, are pushing for international action in the region.