Signs that Canadian citizens were involved in the attack by hostage-taking Islamist terrorists on a remote gas plant in Algeria are of great concern to American authorities, U.S. intelligence officials said on Thursday.
While Algerian authorities apparently have not yet provided Western governments with cast-iron proof, a senior U.S. intelligence official said, “We’re taking very seriously the reports of the two Canadians’ involvement.”
Washington has also received intelligence indicating that Mokhtar Belmokhtar, the one-eyed terrorist who allegedly organized the gas plant attack, and other terrorists belonging to, or affiliated with al-Qaeda’s North African branch are plotting new attacks on Western interests, both in the region and beyond, U.S. officials said.
But the information indicates, for now, that such plotting in discussion or planning phases rather than operational. The intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that meant they were not aware of plots actually in progress to attack U.S. or other Western interests.
Confirmation that Canadian citizens were involved in the attack on the In Amenas facility in the Algerian desert would raise concerns about a worrying nexus between North America and North African militants.
At least 38 plant workers, including citizens of Japan, the United States, Britain and France, and nearly 30 terrorists were killed in the operation to retake control of the facility.