Did you hear the one about the US government, the terrorist leaders and the teleconference?
It’s been a couple of weeks since the US government claimed it gained vital terrorist information by intercepting a conference call between leaders of al Qaeda and other terrorist organisations – the so-called ‘Legion of Doom’.
When is conference call not a conference call?
A statement released by the US government stated a “crucial intercept that prompted the U.S. government to close embassies in 22 countries was a conference call between al Qaeda’s senior leaders and representatives of several of the group’s affiliates throughout the region.”
It now appears, however, that there was no conference call – at least not one over the phone anyway – and the term was used as a generic catch all to get the point across that information had been gained by intercepting several communications between terrorist leaders.
And so any skepticism that terrorist leaders would all dial-in to hold important conversations over a medium that the US government has been monitoring so closely seems to have been well founded.
So if it never intercepted a phone call, as initially thought, how did the US government get its information?
By intercepting an online meeting of terrorism’s top men, apparently, which seems equally as far-fetched but this is the version of the truth we have now and it seems everyone is sticking to it!
Terrorists holding a hangout?
It’s astonishing to think that 20 al Qaeda leaders from around the globe would get together to hold what was essentially an online hangout and stick around for seven hours to discuss all sorts of nefarious plans – but it seems that’s exactly what happened.
The terror threat was posted when U.S. intelligence intercepted a message between Nasir al-Wuhayshi, leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen, and al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri, in which Wuhayshi was informing Zawahiri about an imminent attack.
A U.S. intelligence agency was then able to pick on a flaw in the courier’s operational security and intercept the digital packets which enabled them to locate the courier.
And, in what sounds like a deus ex machina from a dodgy spy film, the various al Qaeda leaders discussed plans for a pending attack and mentioned that a team or teams were already in place for such an attack.
Once the US had this intelligence it started a series of drone strikes, killing around 40 terrorists, two of which were on Yemen’s 25 most wanted list.