>> UPDATE: INTERPOL alarmed by numerous prison breaks in Islamic countries, resulting in the escape of more than 500 al Qaeda operatives.
“On the day that almost two dozen U.S. embassies and consulates across North Africa and the Middle East are closed following the identification of a significant threat from an al-Qaeda affiliate, a senior U.S. official is providing new details about the communications intercepted from the terrorists, telling ABC News that al-Qaeda operatives could be heard talking about an upcoming attack,” reports ABC News. “The official described the terrorists as saying the planned attack is ‘going to be big’ and ‘strategically significant.’
- “The part that is alarming is the confidence they showed while communicating and the air of certainty,” the official told ABC, adding that the group — Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — appeared to have a media plan for after the attack. Authorities do not know the exact target of the planned attack, according to the official.
- “We do not know whether they mean an embassy, an airbase, an aircraft, trains,” the official said.
- Today on “This Week,” Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-MD — the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee — said the intercepted communications called for a “major attack.”
- “We received information that high level people from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula are talking about a major attack,” Ruppersberger said. “And these are people at a high level.”
- “It’s a very credible threat and it’s based on intelligence,” Ruppersberger continued. “What we have to do now is the most important issue, is protect Americans throughout the world.”
- Ruppersberger also commented on the threat’s al-Qaeda connection, saying “We know that al-Qaeda and other people out there want to attack us and kill us and our allies.”
- Read Gen. Martin Dempsey’s comments on the latest overseas terror threats here.
- The senior U.S. official said there is concern about devices that could be implanted inside the body of a terrorist.
- “We are concerned about surgically implanted devices,” they said. “These are guys who have developed the techniques to defeat our detection methods.”
“An al Qaeda plot against American diplomatic posts in the Middle East and other Muslim countries that prompted the U.S. government to close nearly two dozen embassies and consulates over the weekend is “one of the most specific and credible threats I’ve seen, perhaps since 9/11,’ House Homeland Security Chairman Mike McCaul, R-Texas, said Sunday on Face the Nation,” reports CBS News.
Key excerpts from Face The Nation:
- We are now at the end of Ramadan. That timing important, McCaul explained, because the end of Ramadan brings their “night of power.”
- “It’s the night that they tried the first attempt on the USS Cole-style attack,” McCaul said, also pointing to fifteen years ago this week, when twin U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania claimed more than 200 lives and injured more than 4,000.
- “Zawahiri has basically set out a decree to the jihadists on his website saying, ‘Now’s the time to attack U.S. interests,'” McCaul said.
- The threat, signs of which were picked up by U.S. intelligence over the weekend, comes from Al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula – also known as AQAP – a terrorist group CBS News correspondent Bob Orr said is “the most active and charged” among al Qaeda.
- “The fear is that this may be a big play from a group that has been unable to muster a large-scale attack since 9/11, and they’ve got some expertise,” he said. “They have a bomb maker in Yemen named Ibrahim al-Asiri – he’s the guy who built the underwear bombs and printer cartridge bombs. He’s a devious genius and we know in the past he’s experimented in research trying to build body bombs, that is, implant explosives in human beings which would give a whole new meaning to suicide bombers.
- “…While we’re not certain at all that’s part of this threat,” Orr continued, “the fact is he’s part of the brain trust there in Yemen that’s been working on plots, and it can’t be discounted.”
OTHER KEY HEADLINES TO TRACK:
- “Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss, the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, telling NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the threats are ‘very reminiscent of what we saw pre-9/11.’ He also described the threats as ‘the most serious … I’ve seen in a number of years.'” (Fox News)
- Bill Kristol: A year ago Obama said al-Qaida is on the run, and now we are on the run (Daily Caller)
- Embassy closings in 21 countries, travel warning renew debate over NSA data collection (McClatchy News Service)
- Al Qaeda embassy plot among “most specific and credible threats” since 9/11, McCaul says (CBS News/Face The Nation)
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