Al Qaeda's North African wing has been concentrating its efforts in re-establishing a presence in the south western part of Libya, intelligence oficials say.
That is a worrisome development at a time when no one can say for sure who would replace strongman Mommar Gadhafi or what kind of government would emerge in the county.
"We don’t know enough about the structures...authority and power that can replace Gadhafi," said Fred Wehrey, a senior policy analyst at RAND, who returned from an assignment in Libya last week.
Wehrey said U.S. officials will be keeping a close eye on the "large areas of Libya that will remain ungoverned."
Al Qaeda in the Maghreb actively used the south west region of Libya for smuggling routes and they would tap "into traditional ethnic animosity" in an effort to destabilize the political arena for their benefit, Wehrey said.
A US Military official said that destabilized nations on the African continent are a concern because "they can be used as safe-havens again for al Qaeda operatives and off shoot organizations."