U.S. and Yemeni authorities obtained a recording of a seven-hour Internet meeting between more than 20 al Qaeda leaders from around the globe from a captured al Qaeda courier,
Eli Lake and Josh Rogin of the Daily Beast report.
In early August, after learning of the digital meeting — dubbed ‘a meeting of the Legion of Doom‘ by one intelligence official — the U.S. closed embassies in 22 countries.
Lake and Rogin report that authorities intercepted communications of an al Qaeda courier who was then captured carrying “a treasure trove of information” by Yemen’s National Security Bureau with help from the CIA.
From the Beast:
A U.S. intelligence agency was able to exploit a flaw in the courier’s operational security, intercepting the digital packets and locating the courier, according to two U.S. intelligence officials and one U.S. official who reviewed the intelligence.
One basic inconsistency that isn’t addressed is why a source in the previous story explicitly called the meeting a “phone call.”
Another is that Lake and Rogin’s report on August 7 stated that “the various al Qaeda leaders discussed in vague terms plans for a pending attack and mentioned that a team or teams were already in place for such an attack.”
The New York Times, CNN and others reported that the terror threat was prompted when U.S. intelligence intercepted a message between Nasir al-Wuhayshi, leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, and al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which Wuhayshi was informing Zawahiri about an imminent attack.
The Beast’s report on Tuesday, citing two intelligence officials, seems to side with those reports as it states that the conference discussion “ranged from routine business affairs to theological matters.”
It then cites a CNN report that said U.S. intelligence agencies obtained “what was believed to be coded messages,” sent from Wuhayshi and Zawahiri, “that signaled an attack was imminent.”
After the embassy closings, the Obama administration approved a barrage of drone strikes over two weeks that “expanded the scope of people [the U.S.] could go after” and targeted “rising stars” of AQAP to “buy time” as they learned about the threat.
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