A seven-hour recording of an Internet conference call among senior al-Qaida leaders was in the possession of a captured al-Qaida courier, The Daily Beast reports.
The conference call, combined with other communications intelligence, was reportedly the source of concern that prompted government officials to close U.S. embassies across the North African and Middle Eastern region for over a week at the beginning of August.
Senior al-Qaida leadership, including al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, communicated through an encrypted Internet messaging system via voice, audio, and text, several anonymous U.S. intelligence officials told The Daily Beast.
Their analysis concluded that while al-Zawahiri may have been participating remotely through a third party, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi may have been participating in real time.
The leaks about the conference call to The Daily Beast, which came as the Obama administration was facing scrutiny and criticism over the panicked embassy closings, have not drawn the type of backlash from the federal government that was exhibited over previous intelligence leaks involving The Guardian, Edward Snowden and other NSA whistleblowers.
The Daily Beast’s report comes two days after U.K. authorities legally detained David Miranda, partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, for nine hours on Sunday under the country’s terrorism law and threatened him with jail time if he did not cooperate.
The White House, while it acknowledged it was aware of the U.K.’s actions, denies having anything to do with Miranda’s detainment.