U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs, released the following statement after Algerian forces ended a four-day hostage crisis at a gas facility in Algeria. At least one American who worked at the eastern Algeria gas facility was killed after Islamic extremists took over the complex in response to French anti-terror operations in neighboring Mali. The extremists have been linked to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, which currently controls two-thirds of Mali and last week launched attacks pushing southward toward Bamako.
"My heart goes out to the families of those lost in this heinous act of terror in Algeria. Like too many before them, they are victims of a growing global threat of extremism too often thought to be of only local or regional concern. We've seen time and time again that it is possible to attack the United States without stepping foot on American soil. Our interests abroad -- which certainly include Americans working around the world -- are vulnerable to extremists who do not value human lives above their own political objectives.
"While the complete picture of the casualties from this assault remains unclear, we know that at least one American was killed. The family and friends of Frederick Buttaccio, who worked at the In Amenas facility and was among those taken hostage, have my deepest condolences. They are in my thoughts and prayers.
"This tragedy should not shake the resolve of those committed to ending the extremist threat taking root in the Sahel and Maghreb regions. Rather, it is precisely the reason the world must take greater notice of the escalating terrorist threat in Mali and commit to confronting it. The threat posted by AQIM is real and it is growing. With the French now leading combat operations in Mali, it is important that the United States expedite its support for those operations and for African nations to accelerate the deployment of forces to the region. This threat must be confronted urgently and decisively."