Since last week, in public speeches and television appearances, Col. Muammar Qaddafi has blamed al-Qaeda for the uprisings in Libya. "It is obvious now that this issue is run by al-Qaeda," he's repeated. But like with his other warnings  (e.g. al-Qaeda is planting hallucinogenic pills in children's coffee) the statements were given short shrift.

It turns out, however, the U.S. might agree that terrorist network poses a significant threat in the region (though not as Qaddafi depicted it). In a speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon, secretary of state Hillary Clinton conveyed her biggest fear for the turbulent country:

"Many of the al-Qaeda activists in Afghanistan and later in Iraq came from Libya and came from eastern Libya, which is now the so-called free area of Libya,” she said. “One of our biggest concerns is Libya descending into chaos and becoming a giant Somalia.” In her report assessing al-Qaeda's strength in the Middle East, Clinton said she feared a power vacuum in Libya that terrorists could exploit a la Somalia.