Terrorists 'Broke Operational Security' in Talking about Plot
I'm not going to second guess the government in their response to this terrorist threat. They obviously have far more information than is available to the public, and given the specificity described by sources, they really had little choice but to act as they have.
But few are talking about the possibility that we are being played for fools by the terrorists.
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. 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 said, adding that the group — Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula — appeared to have a media plan for after the attack.
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.”
The official also said authorities were stunned that the group broke “operational security” — meaning they talked likely knowing it would be picked up by intercepts.
A media plan? Either the terrorist leaders were communicating over a medium where they felt absolutely secure in discussing the plot or they temporarily took leave of their senses.
So, OK -- I'll buy the Dark Knight surgically implanted phone bomb scenario. But the very specificity of the threat speaks against it being real, doesn't it? We've never received this kind of intelligence prior to an attack before, to my knowledge. Are we that lucky? Are the terrorists that stupid? Or are they simply overconfident?
All indications are that the intercept originated in Yemen. Given how we're blowing them up with great regularity with our drones, weren't they taking an awful chance in chit chatting about the plot?
Several U.S. officials also emphasized they have been watching growing threats emerging from Yemen for weeks.
Those threats, combined with the coming end of the month of Ramadan, plus the concern over several major prison breaks in the region, all contributed to the U.S. decision to shut down diplomatic installations.
The shuttering of 22 U.S. embassies and consulates for the day Sunday amid fears of an al Qaeda attack is an unprecedented move.
"We're doing what is necessary to protect our people," Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN's State of the Union on Sunday.
The closures stretch across a swath of North Africa and the Middle East, from Mauritania to Oman. Bangladesh and Afghanistan, both majority Muslim nations, also are affected.
The shutdowns could extend beyond Sunday, a senior State Department official said. A U.S. global travel alert is also in place.
As White House and national security officials met to discuss the threat and U.S. military forces in the Middle East were put on a higher state of alert, Interpol warned that al Qaeda has been tied to prison breaks in the region that led to the escape of hundreds of terrorists and other criminals.
It's unclear what locations are targeted by the apparent terror plot, U.S. lawmakers said Sunday.
We've had the "dry run" scenarios before -- especially on aircraft. Might this be something similar? AQAP setting up an elaborate plot in order to carefully watch our reaction? As I said at the top, the government has to react to the threat as if it is real or they would be irresponsible. But I am not going to be surprised if nothing happens over the next few days.
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