The U.S government’s closure of 22 embassies in Muslim or largely Muslim countries was sparked by an intercepted terrorist conference call that included at least 20 al Qaeda operatives on the line, according to a Daily Beast report.
One intelligence officer described the call of al Queda leaders as a real-life version of the villains from a D.C. Comics “The Justice League” franchise.
Previous reports have indicated the closures were based on intercepted communications between Ayman al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian-border leader of al Queda believed to be in Pakistan, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, an al Queda leader in Yemen.
The Daily Beast’s report is the first to describe the intercept as being from a conference call involving so many terror leaders from al Queda affiliates in many different locations. It included al Queda representatives from Iraq, Algeria, Uzbekistan and the Sinai Peninsula, according to the report.
The Sinai group’s presence was a major reason the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv was included in the facilities closed, according to the report.
Now that word about the conference call’s intercept has been leaked, the terror organizations are probably going to have to switch communication method.
But the fact that it took place at all – with al Qaeda representatives from different groups dialing in for instructions from Pakistan and Yemen — undermines the Obama administration’s repeated reassurances that the group no longer represents an organized threat to the United States, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told the Daily Beast.
“This may punch a sizable hole in the theory that al Qaeda is on the run,” McCain said.
On Monday, the State Department continued to argue that, despite the embassy closures, the administration is has taken steps to “decimate” al Queda leadership.
“We’ve been clear that we have made a great deal of success against al Qaeda core in Afghanistan and Pakistan, that we have taken a number of steps to really decimate that group’s leadership, including, of course, most importantly, Osama bin Laden,” State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said, according to the Daily Beast.
“But at the same time, we’ve all made clear, from the president on down, that we remain very concerned about the affiliates, al Qaeda affiliates throughout the world. And in that—first on that list is always AQAP.”
But McCain said that’s a mistake.
“The core seems to be able to able to reconstitute itself. The core also seems to be able to coordinate and manage the affiliates,” he said.
“There was a gross underestimation by this administration of al Qaeda’s overall ability to replenish itself.”
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