The closure of 22 U.S. embassies was prompted by an intercepted conference call between al-Qaeda’s senior leaders and representatives or leaders of the group’s affiliates across the globe, according to a report by Eli Lake and Josh Rogin in the Daily Beast.
There were more than 20 operatives on the call, according to the source, citing three anonymous U.S. officials who are familiar with the intelligence. These affiliates included Nigeria’s Boko Haram, the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, in addition to many lesser known affiliates. One official compared the call to “a meeting of the Legion of Doom” and said that one need only “look at that list of places we shut down to get a sense of who was on the phone call.”
During the call, there were vague discussions of a pending attack and reports that “a team or teams were already in place” to carry one out.
As Lake and Rogin note, leaks about the intercepts, which have been remarkably specific, “have likely exposed the operation that allowed the U.S. intelligence community to listen in on the al Qaeda board meetings.”
Senator John McCain told the Daily Beast that, contrary to the Obama administration’s claim that al-Qaeda has been decimated, “This may punch a sizable hole in the theory that al Qaeda is on the run.”