In Libya: Rebel Strongholds Now, al Qaeda Wellspring Then

U.S. Liaison to Opposition Classified al Qaeda Cables

A day before President Barack Obama authorized covert support of the rebels in Libya, NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe U.S. Admiral James Stavridis said officials will watch potential terrorist presence in the opposition "very closely," but had so far only seen "flickers" of it.

"The intelligence that I'm receiving at this point makes me feel that the leadership that I'm seeing are responsible men and women who are struggling against Col. Gadhafi," said Stavridis Tuesday. "At this point, I don't have detail sufficient to say that there's a significant al Qaeda presence or any other terrorist presence in and among these folks."

For its part, al Qaeda attempted to claim a piece of the Middle East rebellions, calling the latest issue of its English-language magazine "The Tsunami of Change" and openly mocking Gadhafi.

Earlier this month the Obama administration named U.S. State Department officer Chris Stevens the government's liaison to the opposition. Stevens, previously the number two man at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, was also the U.S. official who three years ago classified the cables about the Libyan opposition's direct links to al Qaeda.

ABC News' Jake Tapper contributed to this report.

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