Sen. Bob Corker returned from a five-day fact-finding trip to West and North Africa Wednesday and called for "international coordination" in efforts to renew security and stability in the region by countering terrorist groups.
Corker, who recently became ranking member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with key leaders in Senegal, Mali, Algeria and Tunisia. Describing security in the parts of the countries as "substantially deteriorated," the senator and former Chattanooga mayor credited a flow of weapons from Libya with enabling al-Qaida-linked groups to gain footholds in areas.
"It is clear that the international community needs a real, workable plan to combat the transnational terrorist threat confronting North Africa on a going-forward basis, rather than simply reacting to events as they happen, country by country," Corker said in a news release. "Without serious coordination among all affected nations, the threat posed by these groups will intensify."
The countries visited by Corker have been thrust into the global spotlight recently, with fighting and political unrest linked to militants who are affiliated with terrorist groups, including al-Qaida, according to Associated Press reports.
In Mali, French troops have been conducting air and ground assaults against Islamist groups fighting in rebellion to the current government.
Senegal, which neighbors Mali to the west, has assisted the effort by sending troops.
In Algeria, at least 37 hostages were killed last month after a gas complex had been attacked and captured by al-Qaida-affiliated militants.
And in Tunisia, the resignation of the prime minister this week, along with the recent assassination of a political opponent, has raised tensions for the state, which secured independence after a revolution in 2011.
The trip to Africa was Corker's second since becoming ranking member and first to the continent since a trip he made to Libya last October. Corker's office said that, in coming weeks, the Foreign Relations Committee was expected to hold hearings on counterterrorism operations in North and West Africa.