Al-Qaeda is poised to overrun five states in North Africa and the Middle East, creating terrorist safe havens from which the network can launch attack on the West, Europe and the US have been warned.
By Praveen Swami, Diplomatic Editor
9:00PM BST 21 Oct 2010
Mauritania, Mali and Niger have seen a steady escalation of al-Qaeda activity targeting Western aid workers and experts. Somalia, to their east, has disintegrated in the face of Islamist assault. In Yemen, across the Red Sea from Somalia, security forces have been waging a losing battle against resurgent jihadist armies that have claimed the lives of dozens of troops.