Al Qaeda honcho’s intercepted message led to Middle East embassy terror alert

An intercepted electronic communication between Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan and Yemen was what prompted the Obama administration to order the temporary closure of 21 diplomatic outposts in the Middle East, U.S. officials said Monday. The communication between Ayman al-Zawahiri, who succeeded Osama bin Laden at the top of Al Qaeda’s pyramid, and Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the head of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, was also the trigger for the U.S. Department of State to issue a worldwide travel warning. Zawahiri, based in Pakistan, sent the message to Wuhayshi in Yemen. Intercepted several weeks ago, their secret message concerned an attack that was to be carried out as early as this past Sunday — and it came at a time when experts are anxious about Yemen-based terrorists using suicide bombs surgically implanted inside their bodies, American officials said. It is extremely unusual for senior Al Qaeda leaders to discuss operational matters with their affiliates — and American officials said the recent intercept revealed one of the most serious terror plots since Sept. 11. But the communication did not reveal the exact location of the potential attack, so the State Department was forced to take precautions across the Muslim world, reports said. The alert issued last Friday warned against Al Qaeda attacks in the Middle East and North Africa, and diplomatic posts were shuttered Sunday from Mauritania to Afghanistan. The threat was initially thought to target Western interests in Yemen but officials later became concerned about attacks elsewhere. White House spokesman… [Read full story]

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