WASHINGTON – An intercepted conference call between al-Qaeda leader
and his top operatives prompted the United States to close its Middle East diplomatic missions, according to a report Wednesday.
Online journal The Daily Beast,
citing US intelligence sources, said more than 20 al-Qaeda operatives from across the terror group's global network were on the call, which they described as being "like a meeting of the Legion of Doom."
In the call, Zawahiri reportedly named the head of the Yemen al-Qaeda branch,
as the operational controller of the group's affiliates throughout the Muslim world or the group's regional Ma’sul al-Amm (Arabic for general manager).
Al-Zawahiri (R), al-Wuhayshi (Photo: MCT, Reuters)
"This was like a meeting of the Legion of Doom," the Daily Beast quoted a US intelligence officer as saying, referring to a coalition of villains in the cartoon "Super Friends."
Video courtesy of jn1.tv
Taking part in the call were representatives of Nigeria's Boko Haram,
the Pakistani Taliban, al-Qaeda in Iraq, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and other more obscure affiliates and aspiring affiliates
such as al-Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula,
the report said.
According to the quoted source: “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.”
Security checks in Sana Airport. Yemen (Photo: Reuters)
The United States took the unusual step of closing
some 25 diplomatic missions in the Muslim world on Sunday, and then extending the closure for a week at 19 of them, in response to what was reportedly a credible and imminent threat of a major al-Qaeda attack.
According to the Daily Beast, the presence of aspiring al-Qaeda affiliated groups operating in Sinai was a major factor in the State Department's call to close the US Embassy in Tel Aviv,
the report quoted one US intelligence official as saying.
“These guys already proved they could hit Eilat. It’s not out of the range of possibilities that they could hit us in Tel Aviv,” the official said.
Tensions high amid threats. Yemen road-block (Photo: Reuters)
Al-Qaeda leaders had mistakenly assumed that the conference calls, which allowed Zawahiri to run the decentralized group from remote locations, were secure.
Earlier news reports
had said the warning had come from a US intercept
of a conversation between Zawahiri and al-Wuhayshi.
The Daily Beast said that during the conference call the al-Qaeda leaders discussed in vague terms plans for a pending attack, and mentioned that a team or teams were already in place.
AFP contributed to this report
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