Today’s damaging leak: Al Qaeda code words intercepted by U.S. triggered embassy closures

posted at 11:21 am on August 14, 2013 by Allahpundit

Is this a damaging leak? Sure sounded like it when CNN tweeted this out last night:

“Breaks code” makes it sound like Al Qaeda’s sending encrypted messages (e.g., “K&b4Z*EN” for “attack”) and the NSA’s secretly deciphering them with some sort of jihadi Enigma machine. That’s not what’s happening — I think. Here’s what CNN’s article says:

The intercepted al Qaeda communications that sparked the closure of U.S. embassies in the Middle East and North Africa contained specific words that American intelligence interpreted as a coded message for what they believed signaled a potentially imminent attack, CNN has learned…

A U.S. official declined to discuss specific code words on the intercepts but told CNN “there was a sense of imminence, a sense of the overall area at risk and the known actors. There was great concern.”

Members of Congress have indicated that National Security Agency surveillance programs played a role in intercepting and monitoring recent al Qaeda communications.

Code words, not code. They didn’t break a mathematically encrypted cipher, they just interpreted certain phrases used in Al Qaeda’s communications as a signal that an attack was coming. Not “K&b4Z*EN,” in other words, but “The eagle flies at midnight.” They’ve been doing that for years and AQ surely knows it. That’s how the feds busted the New York City subway plot four years ago:

More likely, the break in that case came when British police busted a ring of alleged terrorists in April 2009. A search of a computer belonging to one of the suspects produced an email address that was linked to an al Qaeda operative. A court order was obtained for surveillance of that particular address, and investigators took note of a message that they traced to a man in Colorado named Mohammed Wali Zazi. The message contained a line that jumped out, given that “wedding” is an al Qaeda code word for an attack dating back to 9/11.

“The marriage is ready.”

Presumably they’re not still using “wedding” as code for an attack (although they were, very stupidly, apparently still using it eight years after 9/11), but context is everything here. If you’re an NSA analyst reading messages between Al Qaeda numbers one and two and one of them says, for example, “Preparations for the banquet are complete,” your antenna’s going to go up. That is to say, the fact that some intel source is whispering to CNN about this doesn’t necessarily mean that the NSA has a copy of Al Qaeda’s “jihadi code words” dictionary; it may just mean that they intuited from the unusual nature of the communications that any references to an impending event must be code for an attack. What you may have here is less a real leak than some intel source bragging on an otherwise mundane bit of analysis in order to boost the NSA’s reputation after it’s taken a hit.

If they want to brag about something, they should brag about this — assuming the prominence of the targets isn’t also being overstated for publicity reasons. Exit question via the Daily Caller: Any word yet from Eric Holder on whether he’ll be investigating the truly damaging leak about U.S. intelligence infiltrating Al Qaeda’s online “conference call”? That information’s so sensitive, it must have come from someone near the top of the intel food chain. Very dangerous to national security, and yet nothing but silence so far from the DOJ. Go figure that yet another leak showcasing Team Obama’s jihadi-busting prowess isn’t being vigorously pursued.


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“tea party” means attack is imminent

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:27 AM

The code phrase was “We will make the yankee devils swim in oceans of fire and blood!” which an inexperienced NSA staffer immediately flagged.

The problem is that all the experienced NSA people are busy watching Tea Party groups and Romney donors.

Bishop on August 14, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Any word yet from Eric Holder on whether he’ll be investigating the truly damaging leak about U.S. intelligence infiltrating Al Qaeda’s online “conference call”?

Or how about investigating why the President of the United States was not only aware of a sealed indictment but also felt free enough to discuss it at that sham presser he held before he and the Mooch jumped on a plane for vacation?

Happy Nomad on August 14, 2013 at 11:28 AM

Big leak just came from the Snowden files. Turns out the word that they caught on to was “explodey.”

Gingotts on August 14, 2013 at 11:29 AM

So the NSA finally figured out what “Allahu Akbar” means.

Bitter Clinger on August 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Is this a damaging leak?

Uh, when state-run CNN disseminates propaganda for the White House, it is not called a “leak”.

Pork-Chop on August 14, 2013 at 11:31 AM

Whatever – I’m so jaded – I always expect we’re just being played.

“AQ has trouble with it’s fresh water condensers”

Know what I mean?

jake-the-goose on August 14, 2013 at 11:31 AM

OT bombshell: NYT writes anti-Hillary piece. NYT website down!!!.

Http/1.1 Service Unavailable

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:32 AM

If only Leslie Nielsen was still alive..

The Obama Regime would make a great Naked Gun comedy..

May have to change the name to Naked Transparency..

Electrongod on August 14, 2013 at 11:33 AM

jake-the-goose on August 14, 2013 at 11:31 AM

You shouldn’t have sent that in the clear.

And we are being played, by our own government.

cozmo on August 14, 2013 at 11:35 AM

The ducks have left the pond.

myiq2xu on August 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM

Bye Bye Hillary.

NYT still down!!!

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:36 AM

So the NSA finally figured out what “Allahu Akbar” means.

Bitter Clinger on August 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Haven’t you been paying attention to the Fort Hood trial? We already know what it means- “I hate my job.”

Happy Nomad on August 14, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Whatever – I’m so jaded – I always expect we’re just being played.

“AQ has trouble with it’s fresh water condensers”

Know what I mean?

jake-the-goose on August 14, 2013 at 11:31 AM

I know exactly what you mean. But I don’t credit this administration with being that smart or devious enough to pull it off. The rat-eared wonder would end up bragging to 60 minutes or something.

Happy Nomad on August 14, 2013 at 11:39 AM

The Penguins are under the bed, repeat under the bed. They are not in the refrigerator.

Johnnyreb on August 14, 2013 at 11:40 AM

The refrigerator is dead.

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:42 AM

AQ: Jump!!
U.S.: How high?

tommer74 on August 14, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Jean a un longue mustache. Je repete. Jean a un longue mustache.

xkaydet65 on August 14, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Hey Gail

I told you not to use my real name

Maybe it’s a code name

Yep, Gail is his code name!

(Raising Arizona)

trs on August 14, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Hillary still has her boot to the neck of nytimes.com

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:45 AM

OT bombshell: NYT writes anti-Hillary piece. NYT website down!!!.

Http/1.1 Service Unavailable

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Gotta yank the leash once in a while.

Show’em who’s boss.

Solaratov on August 14, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Wounds my heart with a monotonous languor.

Bishop on August 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM

So, when Al Qaeda is down to just six teenagers living with their moms, they’ll know how to get us to close embassies just by horsing around. No money, no weapons, it just takes a few well crafted emails.

So, what will the spooks think when they read “ROTFLMAO.”

Pythagoras on August 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM

AlQaeda is a troll?

AlQaeda is a troll?

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:49 AM

I wonder what they will be doing on September 11, 2013..?

d1carter on August 14, 2013 at 11:51 AM

“If my son was a rodeo clown…”

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:51 AM

Al Qaeda code words intercepted by U.S. triggered embassy closures

1 Some have speculated that surface-to-air missiles (SAMS) headed for Syria, and stolen in the Benghazi attack were poised to be used as artillery (fired horizontally)to take out our embassies.
2 Others have charged that an administration, under a barrage of scandals, needed a diversion.
3 But, then again, since the NSA is snooping on everybody, maybe the conversation between two South Dakota housewives, exchanging cookie recipes, was mistaken as code for ‘Al Qaeda attack is imminent.’

MaiDee on August 14, 2013 at 11:52 AM

When will Hillary allow us to read the NYT again?

HillaryHacked?

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:52 AM

So, what will the spooks think when they read “ROTFLMAO.”

Pythagoras on August 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM

There are three Cray super computers working on that in the new Utah data center, as we speak.

Solaratov on August 14, 2013 at 11:52 AM

“The Eagle lays an egg at midnight and doesn’t feel much like flying.”

oldroy on August 14, 2013 at 11:53 AM

I have never seen the rodeo clown and AllahPundit in the same room. hmmm…

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:53 AM

I guess the NSA figured out how to penetrate the Cone of Silence.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bsi-lulN7zA

WhatSlushfund on August 14, 2013 at 11:54 AM

When will Hillary allow us to read the NYT again?

HillaryHacked?

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:52 AM

al Qaeda takes down the Hillary story at the New York Times because they would prefer her to just about anybody else including Biden?

The question is whether anyone captured the article before it disappeared and who it will be edited or if it will actually reappear.

oldroy on August 14, 2013 at 11:56 AM

When will Hillary allow us to read the NYT again?

HillaryHacked?

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Al Gore probably would know how to get the site back online.

oldroy on August 14, 2013 at 11:57 AM

“We attack at 3:00 PM, Friday” would never be figured out.

TerryW on August 14, 2013 at 11:58 AM

NYT homepage: “The NYT is undergoing sensitivity training.”

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:59 AM

A U.S. official declined to discuss specific code words on the intercepts

BREAKING NEWS:

Fox News has just learned that the code words used by alQaeda were “Hi guys, we’re planning an attiack on Middle Eastern US Embassies because we’re pissed at all your drone strikes on us. We won’t tell you exactly when, but it will be within the next couple weeks.” The code was finally broken when the Chief US cryptographer was able to decipher the code word “attiack” as “attack”.

In other news, the NSA reported that they had been able to decrypt over 200 million 256-bit encrypted user names and passwords from internet accounts of US Citizens.

NOMOBO on August 14, 2013 at 11:59 AM

Well, since 9-11, “wedding” is out.

But, seems “divorce” is being used a lot…and also the code words “Anyone know what happened to Akhmed?”

The code words, “Primo porn at the camels and goats unlimited web site” still baffle the guys over at Fort Meade.

coldwarrior on August 14, 2013 at 12:02 PM

“We attack at 3:00 PM, Friday” would never be figured out.

TerryW on August 14, 2013 at 11:58 AM

Never expect the obvious.

hawkeye54 on August 14, 2013 at 12:04 PM

The question is whether anyone captured the article before it disappeared and who it will be edited or if it will actually reappear.

oldroy on August 14, 2013 at 11:56 AM

You can get the gist of it from the Telegraph article:

The New York Times takes down the Clinton Foundation. This could be devastating for Bill and Hillary

petefrt on August 14, 2013 at 12:05 PM

So the NSA finally figured out what “Allahu Akbar” means.

Bitter Clinger on August 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Yes it means Bend Over, and then this whole administration chants together “Thank you sir May I have another.”

meci on August 14, 2013 at 12:06 PM

This is just so much BS. What a bunch of clowns. One was in Sedalia, Mo. recently!

Vince on August 14, 2013 at 12:07 PM

OT bombshell: NYT writes anti-Hillary piece. NYT website down!!!.

Http/1.1 Service Unavailable

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:32 AM

Yep – and it took less than an hour for obama to flip the switch on the NYT. It’s good to be KING!

Pork-Chop on August 14, 2013 at 12:11 PM

If Bambi had been president during WW II, the Ultra secret would not be a secret and would no longer be ultra.

PackerBronco on August 14, 2013 at 12:12 PM

If this administration were any more inept and incompetent we would all be in seriously, grave danger! OOOPS! Looks like we are. What a bunch of jerks, they actually believe that MSDNC nonsense about code words. Now we have camel jockeys using them! Are they racists yet? And to think over half of the country thinks this is OK!

Boats48 on August 14, 2013 at 12:13 PM

“Anyone know what happened to Akhmed?”

coldwarrior on August 14, 2013 at 12:02 PM


Akhmed the Dead Terrorist

OT: Glad to hear Rush is on the rodeo clown kerfuffle. He’s really scortched about it too. Says it’s just like what happens in countries that punish criticism/mockery of Muhammad. Calls GOP response cowardly.

Beck hammered it too earlier this morning.

Good. We need to deliver some serious blowback from this PC bullying. Makes me livid.

petefrt on August 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM

Update in the war on American liberty: Government discovers more names of donors to Tea party and Republican Party! Audits scheduled and all alpabet agency thugs alerted for war! It was a close call that that the opposition was about to slip under the radar! Next we will hit them unmercifully with Obamacare and Amnesty and open borders!! Good job police state!

Marco on August 14, 2013 at 12:17 PM

The rodeo clown administration…

PatriotRider on August 14, 2013 at 12:17 PM

Very dangerous to national security, and yet nothing but silence so far from the DOJ.

Eric is too busy covering for Barry.

GarandFan on August 14, 2013 at 12:19 PM

This is all being leaked intentionally. Counter-intel to confuse the enemy and keep them guessing.

paulsur on August 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM

So the NSA finally figured out what “Allahu Akbar” means.

Bitter Clinger on August 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

‘Allahu Akbar’ means ‘workplace violence’. What does that have to do with ‘terrorism’?

MaiDee on August 14, 2013 at 12:26 PM

NYT site still down.

Good.

either orr on August 14, 2013 at 12:36 PM

Pythagoras on August 14, 2013 at 11:48 AM

Will they be able to stay on their moms health insurance?

docflash on August 14, 2013 at 12:39 PM

well nothing like knowing our government is run by complete and utter idiots.

I feel safer.

unseen on August 14, 2013 at 12:43 PM

This is all being leaked intentionally. Counter-intel to confuse the enemy and keep them guessing.paulsur on August 14, 2013 at 12:22 PM

right on the first point wrong to the reason. they are being leaked to protect Obama.

unseen on August 14, 2013 at 12:44 PM

Good. We need to deliver some serious blowback from this PC bullying. Makes me livid.

petefrt on August 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM

agreed

unseen on August 14, 2013 at 12:46 PM

OT bombshell: NYT writes anti-Hillary piece. NYT website down!!!.

Http/1.1 Service Unavailable

faraway on August 14, 2013 at 11:32 AM

NYT still down.

Maybe they did the same as Lavabit? /s

Dasher on August 14, 2013 at 12:49 PM

A court order was obtained for surveillance of that particular address, and investigators took note of a message that they traced to a man in Colorado named Mohammed Wali Zazi.

Hey look, the attack that didn’t happen, on embassies never specified, using weapons and tactics never identified, was “foiled” thanks to domestic NSA surveillance, just days after the Amash amendment narrowly passed… and somehow that information got leaked, in spite of the massive security crackdown following Snowden’s espionage. Who could have foreseen this astonishing turn of events?

Fabozz on August 14, 2013 at 1:00 PM

GubRmint at work

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARgBrXwGidM

roflmmfao

donabernathy on August 14, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Good. We need to deliver some serious blowback from this PC bullying. Makes me livid.

petefrt on August 14, 2013 at 12:14 PM

agreed

unseen on August 14, 2013 at 12:46 PM

“We are all clowns now.” … Wait. what?

bofh on August 14, 2013 at 1:52 PM

Is nothing sacred anymore? Is there no state secret the Administration will not leak if it makes Obama look good?

TXAction on August 14, 2013 at 2:19 PM

The President wears a turd hat. I say again, the President wears a turd hat. Not really code for anything, I just like saying it. That is all.

Mason on August 14, 2013 at 2:21 PM

The code words were “tea party” and “constitution”.

djaymick on August 14, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Darn it, now I know where my “dog whistle” disappeared to.

Another Drew on August 14, 2013 at 2:26 PM

“We broke AQ’s code Mt. Presidentrodeoclown!”

“I’m watching a Cubs game. Please!”

Akzed on August 14, 2013 at 2:34 PM

We could prepare a banquet of our own. A party, if you will. We could even call it a tea party. Who will provide the crumpets and who will provide the guests?

solatic on August 15, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Climb Mount Niitaka.

Chris of Rights on August 15, 2013 at 10:13 AM