US closed embassies after “Legion of Doom” AQ conference call

posted at 10:01 am on August 7, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

What kind of intelligence did the US develop that caused the Obama administration to take the drastic and unprecedented step of closing almost two dozen embassies for more than a week?  The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report from their sources that the intel community intercepted a global al-Qaeda conference call run by Ayman al-Zawahiri, one which demonstrated his control over the umbrella organization and the enthusiasm of its affiliate participants, including relatively new additions from Africa and the Sinai Peninsula.  One source called the aggregate the “Legion of Doom”:

Several news outlets reported Monday on an intercepted communication last week between Zawahiri and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the leader of al Qaeda’s affiliate based in Yemen. But The Daily Beast has learned that the discussion between the two al Qaeda leaders happened in a conference call that included the leaders or representatives of the top leadership of al Qaeda and its affiliates calling in from different locations, according to three U.S. officials familiar with the intelligence. All told, said one U.S. intelligence official, more than 20 al Qaeda operatives were on the call.

To be sure, the CIA had been tracking the threat posed by Wuhayshi for months. An earlier communication between Zawahiri and Wuhayshi delivered through a courier was picked up last month, according to three U.S. intelligence officials. But the conference call provided a new sense of urgency for the U.S. government, the sources said.

Al Qaeda members included representatives or leaders from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, the Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and more obscure al Qaeda affiliates such as the Uzbekistan branch. Also on the call were representatives of aspiring al Qaeda affiliates such as al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula, according to a U.S. intelligence official. The presence of aspiring al Qaeda affiliates operating in the Sinai was one reason the State Department closed the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, according to one U.S. intelligence official. “These guys already proved they could hit Eilat. It’s not out of the range of possibilities that they could hit us in Tel Aviv,” the official said. …

“This was like a meeting of the Legion of Doom,” one U.S. intelligence officer told The Daily Beast, referring to the coalition of villains featured in the Saturday morning cartoon Super Friends.

Of course, the problem with this revelation — actually the original leak specifying the intercept of the communication between Zawahiri and Wuhayshi — is that it has tipped off AQ about the lack of security on their conference calls.  That will make it more difficult for the US to keep tabs on the group, but it also forces AQ to find another way to exert central control over the collective.  That will continue to be a problem with an organization known for its effective coordination and strategic targeting.

This also demonstrates that the concept of “core al-Qaeda” as something separate from the whole is an illusion.  Clearly, Zawahiri remains in control of the organization, demanding action from AQAP and assigning roles to individual members.  Wuhayshi got promoted to a general-manager position for the entire network in the course of this call, for instance, and affiliates reported operational status to Zawahiri on attacks planned for the near future.  It was this information — the assurance given that assets were already in place for the next series of attacks — which drove the response from the US:

The promotion effectively gave the leader of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen operational control of al Qaeda’s many affiliates throughout the Muslim world, the official said, a key factor that led the State Department to close embassies, missions, and consulates throughout the region. “All you need to do is look at that list of places we shut down to get a sense of who was on the phone call,” the official said.

Not everyone agrees with the response, however.  Yemen in particular expressed indignation over the closing of the embassy and the evacuation of US personnel from their country, saying it only encourages more terrorism:

Yemeni officials on Tuesday sharply denounced the United States’ decision to evacuate some of its staff from its embassy in the country in the first sign of a split between allies over the Obama administration’s reaction to what U.S. officials say is one of the most specific terrorism threats in years.

In a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry, Yemen said it “appreciates foreign governments’ concern for the safety of their citizens.” But it added that the decision by

the United States and Great Britain to evacuate “embassy staff serves the interests of the extremists and undermines the exceptional cooperation between Yemen and the international alliance against terrorism.”

“Yemen has taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety and security of foreign missions in the capital,” the statement said. “Yemen remains strongly committed to the global effort to counter the threats of al Qaida and its affiliates.”

Even some American analysts were left scratching their heads:

If ordinary Americans are confused, they’re in good company. Analysts who’ve devoted their careers to studying al Qaida and U.S. counterterrorism strategy can’t really make sense of it, either. There’s general agreement that the diffuse list of potential targets has to do with either specific connections authorities are tracking, or places that might lack the defenses to ward off an attack. Beyond that, however, even the experts are stumped.

Take this sampling of reactions from prominent al Qaida observers:

“It’s crazy pants – you can quote me,” said Will McCants, a former State Department adviser on counterterrorism who this month joins the Brookings Saban Center as the director of its project on U.S. relations with the Islamic world.

“We just showed our hand, so now they’re obviously going to change their position on when and where” to attack, said Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst who was part of the team that hunted Osama bin Laden for years.

“It’s not completely random, but most people are, like, ‘Whaaat?’ ” said Aaron Zelin, who researches militants for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and blogs about them at Jihadology.net.

In this case, I’d tend to agree with the Yemenis. The proper response would have been to boost security around the embassies with a show of force, along with the aggressive operations under way now in Yemen and other place to go on the offensive against al-Qaeda.  It may not be “crazy pants,” but it’s handing AQ a propaganda victory on the cheap.


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The promotion effectively gave the leader of al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen operational control of al Qaeda’s many affiliates throughout the Muslim world, the official said, a key factor that led the State Department to close embassies, missions, and consulates throughout the region. “All you need to do is look at that list of places we shut down to get a sense of who was on the phone call,” the official said.

Unpossible. Islam is the Religion of Peace.® They’ve told me that themselves. And threatened to cut off my head if I didn’t believe them.

rbj on August 7, 2013 at 10:04 AM

is that it has tipped off AQ about the lack of security on their conference calls

So what, if it makes Barky look tough then the price will have to be paid. Now comes a 6 month long victory dance for the Dog Eating General and his retarded sidekick veep.

Bishop on August 7, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Pull completely out of the Mideast and let these sorry countries sort out their own problems…meanwhile we continue fracking and use less of their oil and gas…

PatriotRider on August 7, 2013 at 10:07 AM

Did the conference look like this?

mwbri on August 7, 2013 at 10:08 AM

One more time–Did the conference look like this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Legion_of_Doom.jpg

mwbri on August 7, 2013 at 10:09 AM

If this thread isn’t filled with “Challenge of the Super Friends” references I am going to be very disappointed.

Shoom shooom shooom!

MEANWHILE AT THE WHITE HOUSE Joe Biden has got himself into a sticky situation, head being stuck in a hunny pot and all

Gatsu on August 7, 2013 at 10:10 AM

Thank you, Barry Oblowmo, for officially showing the enemy that any future threats made against the United States will be met with the swift beating of feet as we head for the proverbial hills like the chicken-s**t cowards outfits like al-Qaeda, will view us as being.

Way to go, Chump!

pilamaye on August 7, 2013 at 10:11 AM

….at least Legion of Doom would be a good name of a video to go to jail for!

KOOLAID2 on August 7, 2013 at 10:13 AM

The Legion of Doom?

is DC comics running this show????

ted c on August 7, 2013 at 10:14 AM

So a once mighty nation governs according to cartoon comics policies…

WINNING!

workingclass artist on August 7, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Time to activate the JG1G .. the Justice Guys (And 1 Gal).

The Rogue Tomato on August 7, 2013 at 10:15 AM

Thats our CinC
So proud
/

cmsinaz on August 7, 2013 at 10:16 AM

“Legion of Doom”

Oh, so that’s what Barry’s admin is called these days.

hawkeye54 on August 7, 2013 at 10:18 AM

The Legion of Doom?

is DC comics running this show????

ted c on August 7, 2013 at 10:14 AM

We might be better off if it was.

hawkeye54 on August 7, 2013 at 10:19 AM

US closed embassies after “Legion of Doom” AQ conference call

I’ll give the Legion of Doom this much credit. They’re using conference calls. Other evil organizations like the IRS should learn a few lessons in that. Granted there is no video of Zawahiri and Nasser al-Wuhayshi line dancing or dressing up like Spock. Nevertheless, I’m pretty sure the LOD didn’t blow millions of dollars on a Vegas boondoggle.

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Unpossible. Islam is the Religion of Peace.® They’ve told me that themselves. And threatened to cut off my head if I didn’t believe them.

rbj on August 7, 2013 at 10:04 AM

See, that’s the problem…..Believe them, bow to them, assimilate with them, obey them and there will be Peace(TM).

Simple. Really.

hawkeye54 on August 7, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Zero thinks of himself as a super-hero…and super-hero’s need super enemies…heh…

PatriotRider on August 7, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Wonder Twin Powers..…activate!

ted c on August 7, 2013 at 10:23 AM

AQ-1, King Barry-zip

GarandFan on August 7, 2013 at 10:23 AM

What, the Brotherhood of Evil was taken?

nobar on August 7, 2013 at 10:23 AM

The Administration may well have compromised American intelligence capabilities that took years to develop, but what the hell! Obama sure looked great with Leno, didn’t he?

Liam on August 7, 2013 at 10:27 AM

Legion of Doom???

Sounds like somebody got their goat.

coldwarrior on August 7, 2013 at 10:28 AM

Do they know what was communicated during the meeting? Perhaps it had an entirely innocent explanation, like maybe it was a presentation by al Qaeda HR explaining their new healthcare plan, or the a newer and more generous 401K.

slickwillie2001 on August 7, 2013 at 10:29 AM

intercepted a global al-Qaeda conference call run by Ayman al-Zawahiri

These people are not stupid, unlike the current occupant of the white house and his degenerate clown posse. They know they are being surveilled, round the clock. AQ conference call. Anyone buying that has the IQ of a bag of hammers.

Jeez Louise.

Ed is correct. Give the Marine guards BULLETS, permission to fire on anyone trying to unlawfully enter the compound, refusing to stop, and then get back. The embassies will be safe.

dogsoldier on August 7, 2013 at 10:30 AM

The Legion of Doom?

is DC comics running this show????

ted c on August 7, 2013 at 10:14 AM

Speaking as an Obama-hating conservative, I like the name. Low-information voters can relate to “Legion of Doom.” Their eyes glass over and they start thinking of the last episode of Toddlers and Tiaras if you start talking about counterinsurgency or how Al Qaeda’s organization in Yemen is an affiliated group.

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2013 at 10:30 AM

There’s a good chance AQ pulled a fast one on our intellegence and made sure we heard the call.They know how Obama loves to toot his own horn then scammed him to see his reaction.If so it worked and he ran like the wuss they know he is.I expect an attack soon.

docflash on August 7, 2013 at 10:31 AM

The Daily Beast’s Eli Lake and Josh Rogin report from their sources that the intel community intercepted a global al-Qaeda conference call run by Ayman al-Zawahiri, one which demonstrated his control over the umbrella organization and the enthusiasm of its affiliate participants,

Maybe they should have used the umbrella of silence.

Just like Obama, his only option is to retreat in the face of a threat, leaving the impression of cowardice. The Founding Fathers are turning over in their graves!

Patriot Vet on August 7, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Maybe Zero should have those two gay superheros from SNL fight his battles…

PatriotRider on August 7, 2013 at 10:32 AM

I knew Obama was a fool and his supporters certainly had no trouble in looking foolish themselves, and the so-called opposition party that I once supported had no problem looking foolish.

Now Obama is making us all look foolish.

reaganaut on August 7, 2013 at 10:32 AM

See, that’s the problem…..Believe them, bow to them, assimilate with them, obey them and there will be Peace(TM).

Simple. Really.

hawkeye54 on August 7, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Isn’t that pretty much what Harry Reid demands when he says the GOP isn’t cooperating with him? It certainly is how John McCain defines bipartisanship.

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Do they know what was communicated during the meeting? Perhaps it had an entirely innocent explanation, like maybe it was a presentation by al Qaeda HR explaining their new healthcare plan, or the a newer and more generous 401K.

slickwillie2001 on August 7, 2013 at 10:29 AM

They could have been playing poker. These are people who communicate by runners to specifically avoid interception. We are now supposed to believe the head guy arranged a conference call?

I’d be laughing except our team of idjits bought it for reasons that no one can understand.

dogsoldier on August 7, 2013 at 10:33 AM

Legion of Doom…

Well, like in an old Twilight Zone episode, “Anything can happen in Cartoonland.”

Liam on August 7, 2013 at 10:33 AM

But, but I thought- AQ was “on the run”?

Meanwhile they are using Go-To Meeting for conference calls.

What’s next- AQ Day at Disney?

Marcus Traianus on August 7, 2013 at 10:35 AM

There’s a good chance AQ pulled a fast one on our intellegence and made sure we heard the call.They know how Obama loves to toot his own horn then scammed him to see his reaction.If so it worked and he ran like the wuss they know he is.I expect an attack soon.

docflash on August 7, 2013 at 10:31 AM

The terrorists are definitely winning right now. They’ve exploited a cowardly President, weak US foreign policy in the region, and lack of US involvement as a leader. There doesn’t even have to be an attack. Just the threat of one closed down embassies and caused the evacuation of personnel in much the same way embassy people left Saigon. Again, the terrorists are winning even as our government puts a higher premium on spying on its own citizens than on counter-terrorism operations. I guess AQAP has to file for tax exempt status before the rat-eared bastard’s operation cares.

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2013 at 10:37 AM

Valerie Jarrett The Iranian is the true POTUS. Obama’s just a clown.. a girlie clown.

Key West Reader on August 7, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Crazy pants.

John the Libertarian on August 7, 2013 at 10:43 AM

Al Qaeda members included representatives or leaders from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, the Pakistani Taliban, al Qaeda in Iraq, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, and more obscure al Qaeda affiliates such as the Uzbekistan branch. Also on the call were representatives of aspiring al Qaeda affiliates such as al Qaeda in the Sinai Peninsula, according to a U.S. intelligence official.

But, of course, AQ is ‘decimated’.

The presence of aspiring al Qaeda affiliates operating in the Sinai was one reason the State Department closed the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, according to one U.S. intelligence official. “These guys already proved they could hit Eilat. It’s not out of the range of possibilities that they could hit us in Tel Aviv,” the official said

So, the mere ‘presence’ of these guys forced us to shutter our embassy? So I guess we are never going to open those doors again, along with all the others that are closed. Because Lord knows that they aren’t going anywhere. What did we ever do when we had people who wanted to do harm to our installations overseas in years past? Oh yeah, WE DEFENDED THEM!

Patriot Vet on August 7, 2013 at 10:44 AM

One more time–Did the conference look like this?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Legion_of_Doom.jpg

mwbri on August 7, 2013 at 10:09 AM

No it did not.

Cheetah is not wearing either a burqha or an abaya in that picture.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Zero thinks of himself as a super-hero…and super-hero’s need super enemies…heh…

PatriotRider on August 7, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Yes, Obama is the key figure in Legion Bureaucracy, other people include

Retribution Man
Equal Pay Woman
The Union Wonder
Captain Planet
The Deflection
The Red Tape
Grandma Nanny

Oil Can on August 7, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Obama just demonstrated to the Jihadi’s that they could shut down the US government with just a conference call. What an imbecile.

TulsAmerican on August 7, 2013 at 10:56 AM

Of course, the problem with this revelation — actually the original leak specifying the intercept of the communication between Zawahiri and Wuhayshi — is that it has tipped off AQ about the lack of security on their conference calls. That will make it more difficult for the US to keep tabs on the group, but it also forces AQ to find another way to exert central control over the collective.

Because they didn’t know anyone was trying to listen to their calls before.

Axe on August 7, 2013 at 10:56 AM

So now they are saying, “Yemeni officials said a major Al-Qaeda plot to blow up oil and gas pipelines and seize some of the country’s main ports was thwarted on Wednesday.”

Am I missing the part about attacks on US embassies???

albill on August 7, 2013 at 10:59 AM

There really are no words that can accurately describe what has become of our presence on the world stage right now. Can you imagine this happening during any other time in our history when we demonstrated such weakness in the face of a threat? We have essentially shown weakness, turn tails and ran. I am truly flabbergasted, at a loss for words. I actually feel sick knowing what has become of our country.

ME – Hey POTUS, BOO!

POTUS – Run away, run away!!!!!!

D-fusit on August 7, 2013 at 11:03 AM

Yes, Obama is the key figure in Legion Bureaucracy, other people include

Retribution Man
Equal Pay Woman
The Union Wonder
Captain Planet
The Deflection
The Red Tape
Grandma Nanny

Oil Can on August 7, 2013 at 10:56 AM

You forgot Dr. Circumlocution.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 7, 2013 at 11:05 AM

ME – Hey POTUS, BOO!

POTUS – Run away, run away!!!!!!

D-fusit on August 7, 2013 at 11:03 AM

When danger reared its ugly head, BHO promptly turned his tail and fled.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 7, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Obama just demonstrated to the Jihadi’s that they could shut down the US government with just a conference call. What an imbecile.

TulsAmerican on August 7, 2013 at 10:56 AM

and not a shot being fired and with the announcement, Verison lost the A-Q account.

Just like Afghanistan, O announces a surge coupled with a withdrawal date. Now he close 22 embassies for one day and then one week. You think A-Q will forget about their plans after a week’s delay. O has been working with low-information voters for too long (oh look, a squirrel)

sh221b on August 7, 2013 at 11:11 AM

The Legion Religion of Doom

faraway on August 7, 2013 at 11:16 AM

So they pick up some known jihadi’s in Yemen, “prevented” a massive attack, and Hussein looks good (he thinks).

Meanwhile nobody is talking about the CIA and Benghazi, and you know, dead ambassadors…

Not to mention all the other “phony scandals”.

Antivenin on August 7, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 7, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Yep (hee, hee). The Jihadis would have problems with the villain in the cat suit.

mwbri on August 7, 2013 at 11:22 AM

When danger reared its ugly head, BHO promptly turned his tail and fled.

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 7, 2013 at 11:07 AM

Nonsense, he was just going for reinforcements. The guy who personally led SEAL Team Six to “get” OBL would not be a coward when facing up to AQAP!/

Seriously, look for more strutting around with claims that his actions thwarted terror attacks in the middle east.

Happy Nomad on August 7, 2013 at 11:22 AM

Obama & Kerry closed the embassies to avoid “Benghazi Part II: No Video To Blame This Time”.

Bitter Clinger on August 7, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Retribution Man
Equal Pay Woman
The Union Wonder
Captain Planet
The Deflection
The Red Tape
Grandma Nanny

Oil Can on August 7, 2013 at 10:56 AM

The Legion of Choom?

HumpBot Salvation on August 7, 2013 at 11:27 AM

“We just showed our hand, so now they’re obviously going to change their position on when and where” to attack, said Nada Bakos, a former CIA analyst who was part of the team that hunted Osama bin Laden for years.

A bag of rocks could have figured THAT out. Maybe Susan Rice with her vast expertise on National Security suggested it and the Community Organizer in Chief thought it sounded cool or something.

Cleombrotus on August 7, 2013 at 11:41 AM

All told, said one U.S. intelligence official, more than 20 al Qaeda operatives were on the call.

And here is how Zawahiri ended the call…

“All together now brothers. On a count of three … 1 … 2 … 3 …

FU Obama! You’ll be hearing from us! Allahu Akbar, Infidel!”

farsighted on August 7, 2013 at 11:49 AM

It isn’t a coincidence that Obama is putting on this dog and pony show with leaked intel, travel warnings and embassy closings as the anniversary of his inaction and dereliction of duty in Benghazi approaches. He is running scared, knowing attention will be sharply re-focused on Benghazi, his failure to act, and the ongoing cover-up that has concealed his responsibility.

That he chose cowering and retreat as opposed to a show of force and determination to protect American interests is no surprise either. Retreat and apologize are his default responses in foreign policy.

novaculus on August 7, 2013 at 12:54 PM

“Legion of Doom”

*meh*

No matter who they get, it won’t be the same since Hawk’s dead.

RedNewEnglander on August 7, 2013 at 12:56 PM

“Legion of Doom”

*meh*

No matter who they get, it won’t be the same since Hawk’s dead.

RedNewEnglander on August 7, 2013 at 12:56 PM

Nah, they can always go “Crises of Infinite BS” and revive him and 1,263 other re-imagined characters and timelines.

T-shirts to sell and all..

Difficultas_Est_Imperium on August 7, 2013 at 12:59 PM

Don’t forget

Schadenfreude on August 7, 2013 at 2:09 PM

Somebody decided to leak this at an appropriate time and voila, we have another distraction. Other than leaking info that may or may not be true in order to bolster the vacation takers nat sec cred, how did they know this call was going to take place? If there is a mole in the AQ org chart, they’ll be able to narrow it down to a few names and eliminate them. The only specifics we have received is info on the conference call, nothing on the reasons for closing the embassies. They could have blamed the sequester.

Kissmygrits on August 8, 2013 at 9:13 AM