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Sources: More U.S. Marines head to Djibouti


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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Elements of a U.S. Marine division are being sent to the East Africa nation of Djibouti to search for al Qaeda leaders, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.

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Members of the 2nd Marine Division will join other U.S. forces already in the Horn of Africa to search for members of the terrorist network behind the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington, the military said.

The troop movement had been rumored for some months, and it could begin moving within the next several days, sources told CNN.

The news follows reports in September that about 800 U.S. troops, including about 200 personnel from special operations units and the CIA, had assembled at a French base in Djibouti.

U.S. officials say al Qaeda leaders may be hiding in a variety of places throughout the Horn of Africa after the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan last year destroyed the terrorist network's base in Afghanistan.

The U.S. military asked last May to use Djibouti to train and acclimate American forces for missions in the region, Djibouti's President Ismail Omar Guelleh told CNN in September.

Topping the list of suspected hideouts is Yemen, the ancestral home of Osama bin Laden's family. Al Qaeda is also blamed for the October 2000 suicide attack on the destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden, in which 17 U.S. sailors were killed.

Other spots in the Horn of Africa, including Somalia, are also thought to be potential al Qaeda hideouts.



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