Dec. 27, 2013
(CNN) – CNN has learned recent intercepts of messages from senior al Qaeda operatives in Yemen are renewing concern the group is planning new attacks. The intercepts don’t indicate specific targets but are described by one source as “active plotting.”
“There are multiple indications that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is plotting attacks both within Yemen, against US and other western structures, as well as overseas,” Seth Jones of Rand Corporation said.
The group in Yemen already well known for the failed underwear bomber attempt to bring down an airplane Christmas Day 2009.
Four years later, the US intelligence community believes it poses the greatest threat of an attack on the US.
“They are still capable of conducting attacks outside of Yemen, including plotting attacks against the United States in multiple locations, including trying to conduct attacks against the US homeland especially by taking down aircraft,” Jones said.
Analysts say the group rebounded in 2013 from battlefield losses. US drone strikes have had mixed results.
A drone attack this month failed to kill an al Qaeda planner believed to be behind a plot to attack the US embassy. Yemen says more than a dozen members of a wedding party were killed in that attack.
Yemen’s al Qaeda leader Nasr al Wuhayshi is also advising al Qaeda fighters across the region. Those al Qaeda affiliates from Yemen to Syria, Iraq, and Libya are growing stronger. The threat they pose worries key members of congress.
In Iraq police are trying to crack down, but al Qaeda openly operates training camps near the Syrian border. From there, al Qaeda has moved into Syria with weapons and tactics learned during the US war in Iraq.
Inside Syria, a key al Qaeda affiliate is also stronger than a year ago. About 100 Americans along with potentially hundreds from Europe are fighting alongside thousands of militants.
“If they were able to return to Europe and to get access to the United States or return directly to the United States, they were not put on any watch list,” Jones said. “They would pose a very serious threat. They are well trained, they’re radicalized and they have the ability and the intent to strike the US homeland.”
Analysts say the rise of the new al Qaeda affiliates is part of the price paid for years of attacks against the old core al Qaeda. Many of those leaders are long gone, including Osama Bin Laden, and now the new affiliates have much more autonomy and much more freedom to operate as they see fit.
Pass Amnesty and we will have more terrorists, gang bangers, sexual predators, drug cartel members…