The closing of U.S. diplomatic posts in 19 countries across the Middle East and Africa was based on CIA interception of an al-Qaida conference call so massive it was compared to a meeting of the “Legion of Doom” by an intelligence official, according to an anonymously-sourced article in The Daily Beast.
The article reported that more than 20 al-Qaida representatives from affiliates around the world took part in the conference call, with less well-known groups from Nigeria, Uzbekistan and the Sinai Peninsula participating as well.
The recent U.S. terror warning was supposedly based on a promotion that occurred during the conference call in which al-Qaida’s leader Ayman Zawahiri promoted Nasser al Wuhaysi, the head of its Yemen affiliate, to a “general manager” of sorts. This gave him effective control of al-Qaida’s many franchises — a key reason in the State Department’s decision to close embassies across the region.
“All you need to do is look at that list of places we shut down to get a sense of who was on the phone call,” an unnamed intelligence official told The Daily Beast.
During the conference, the al-Qaida representatives also reportedly discussed an upcoming attack in vague terms, mentioning that teams were already in place.
The meeting showed al-Qaida’s global network is being run directly from its Pakistani headquarters, sparking controversy in Congress as some question President Obama’s repeated statements that al-Qaida’s leadership has been devastated in recent years.
“This may punch a sizable hole in the theory that al-Qaida is on the run,” Sen. John McCain said. ”There was a gross underestimation by this administration of al-Qaida’s overall ability to replenish itself.”
But considering how oddly corporate the leaks make al-Qaida seem, the Daily Beast’s article has its doubters:
I am skeptical that al Qaeda does conference calls, by the way.
— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) August 7, 2013
Including some who say if the article is true it would harm national security immensely:
Accepting reporters on this haven’t been spun, this leak has done enormous harm to US interests and security. http://t.co/yKEig2mx4M
— Dan Murphy (@bungdan) August 7, 2013