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Al Qaeda Intercept Triggered U.S. Embassies Shutdown

posted 6 Aug 2013, 10:00 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 6 Aug 2013, 10:00 ]

An intercepted secret message between al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahri and his deputy inYemen Nasser al-Wuhayshi about plans for a major terror attack was one part of the intelligence that triggered the current shutdown of many U.S. embassies.

AFGHANISTAN (AL JAZEERA) -  An intercepted secret message between the Al Qaeda chief and his deputy in Yemen was one of the elements that prompted the United States to shutdown embassies across the Middle East.

The poorest Arab country, Yemen is the base for al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), one of the most active branches of the network founded by Osama bin Laden, and militants have launched attacks from there against the West.

U.S. sources have told Reuters that intercepted communication between bin Laden's successor as al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, and the Yemen-based wing was one part of the intelligence behind their alert last week.

The New York Times reported that the closure of the embassies was the result of intercepted secret message between Zawahri and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of AQAP.

The United States told its citizens in Yemen on Tuesday (August 6) to leave immediately and airlifted out some U.S. government personnel, following warnings of potential attacks that have pushed Washington to shut diplomatic missions in the region.

Al Qaeda's Yemen-based branch AQAP has been behind plots against Western targets and neighbouring Saudi Arabia. It claimed responsibility for a failed attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up a Detroit-bound trans-Atlantic airliner with explosives hidden in his underwear on Christmas Day 2009.

In an audio tape posted online on May 16, 2010, Wuhayshi was heard threatening the United States with more attacks should any harm come to a U.S.-born radical cleric wanted dead or alive by Washington.

U.S. officials said President Barack Obama's administration had authorised operations to capture or kill Yemen-based Anwar al-Awlaki -- a leading figure linked to al Qaeda's Yemen wing.

"Obama, tell your people and do not hide from them the size of the danger that constantly awaits you. Divulge to them the result of the investigations on the cells and the ongoing plans and the targets of the Mujahideen," Wuhayshi was heard saying in the audio message.

"The threats of the United States do not frighten us... Muslims, do not worry about the sheikh (Anwar al-Awlaki), he is in safe hands," Wuhayshi continued to say.

The United States has acknowledged killing Anwar al-Awlaki in a drone strike in Yemen in September 2011, but the Obama administration's policy allowing the killing of a U.S. citizen has been controversial.