Video: Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

posted at 8:41 am on April 16, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Did the US recently miss a golden opportunity to take out a large number of al-Qaeda leaders, including the top lieutenant of Ayman al-Zawahiri and chief of the network’s most virulent subsidiary in Yemen? AQAP recently held a large meeting somewhere in south Yemen despite US drone warfare targeting the network in that region, and published the video on jihadi websites to emphasize their success. In the tape, AQAP leader Nasir al-Wuhayshi pledged to the terrorist leaders gathered there that he wants to attack the US soon:

A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to strike.

U.S. officials won’t comment on that, but every frame of the video is now being analyzed by the United States.

In the middle of the clip, the man known as al Qaeda’s crown prince, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, appears brazenly out in the open, greeting followers in Yemen. Al-Wuhayshi, the No. 2 leader of al Qaeda globally and the head of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has said he wants to attack the United States. But in the video, he looks unconcerned that he could be hit by an American drone.

The video started appearing on jihadist websites recently, drawing the attention of U.S. officials and global terrorism experts. U.S. officials say they believe it’s authentic.

“This is quite an extraordinary video,” Paul Cruickshank, CNN terrorism analyst, said.

Did the US know about this ahead of time? If they did, they must have either had difficulty arranging the logistics of an attack — or perhaps had other assets in place for other reasons. It can’t be that we didn’t understand the value of the target, though. The Wall Street Journal recalls that Wuhayshi was one of the reasons the US closed a slew of embassies last summer:

Concerns last summer about a plot, discovered in part through intercepts of communications between Mr. Wuhayshi and al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, prompted the U.S. to temporarily close its embassy in Yemen and 18 other countries.

U.S. officials have been particularly concerned about the threat posed by the Yemen-based affiliate’s creative bomb-maker, Ibrahim al-Asiri, who built the device used in the botched 2009 effort to bring down a Detroit-bound airliner among other plots.

It could be that the effort to transition the drone program from CIA to Defense forced a lost opportunity, although that’s still speculative:

Last year, President Barack Obama announced tighter standards on U.S. drone programs and directed the CIA to transfer its drone strike program into military hands, though the pace of that transition has been slow. The military’s drone program in Yemen has been on hold since the wedding convoy strike.

However the opportunity passed us by, it may be a lost chance we end up regretting.


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Maybe the Bureau of Land Management can lend out some of their sniper rifles next time.

rogerb on April 16, 2014 at 8:46 AM

When we start nuking the Muslim Middle East, I will be very happy.

thejackal on April 16, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Obama was to be the Key Note speaker but the timing interfered with his golf schedule.

Skwor on April 16, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

Of course not. It was in Charlotte back in 2012.

Happy Nomad on April 16, 2014 at 8:50 AM

It could be that the effort to transition the drone program from CIA to Defense forced a lost opportunity, although that’s still speculative:

Occam’s razor. We’re talking about an intelligence community that failed to predict Russia taking the Crimea. Not only failed, but assured us such a thing was the furthest thing from the truth. The simplest explanation here is that they failed to learn of the meeting before it occurred.

NotCoach on April 16, 2014 at 8:51 AM

No, Al-Q is not dead. I hear the BLM sniper team is busy regrouping and washing underwear, maybe the Post Office’s sniper team can handle this. :(

Mini-14 on April 16, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

Of course not. It was in Charlotte back in 2012.

Happy Nomad on April 16, 2014 at 8:50 AM

That’s gold, Jerry. Gold!

mankai on April 16, 2014 at 8:53 AM

A new video shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years. And the CIA and the Pentagon either didn’t know about it or couldn’t get a drone there in time to strike.

They know this because of the number of known terrorists running around with tote bags and t-shirts emblazoned with Jihadpalooza!

Happy Nomad on April 16, 2014 at 8:53 AM

Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

Who cares…

There is a rancher in Nevada stealing grass and weeds….

Go get him government!!!!!!!!

Electrongod on April 16, 2014 at 8:54 AM

It occurs to me that trying to take out these guys one by one (or even in small groups like this) is a lot like trying to get all the cockroaches out of a moldy mobile home armed with only a boot heel.

No matter how many we get, a whole new breed of cockroach will spring up instantly. If we really are serious about making a difference in the level of terror, we need to cut off their military enablers – and yes, that includes the Saudis, although they appear to have cleaned up their act a lot lately. No, the number 1 enemy of the west in the middle east is the same one it has been since the beginning, the one that cynically hid Bin Laden right out in the open for years. Do I need to spell it out? It starts with a “P” and ends with “akistan”.

Oh but we’re scared, because they’re big and have nukes and we’ve known about it for years.

So rather than getting rid of the stinking, worthless, mobile home, we spend all our time chasing cockroaches in the dark. As if that will ever end, or ever do anything about the real problem.

Of course, I guess if you define the real problem as, how do we pretend to do something, at least enough to fool the stupid voters into thinking we’re doing something, without actually changing anything?” then that “problem” is being addressed quite nicely.

Tom Servo on April 16, 2014 at 8:54 AM

They prolly were discussing how Islam can best spread its message of peace, reconciliation and love to those angry western nations.

/Brandeis

mankai on April 16, 2014 at 8:55 AM

maybe the Post Office’s sniper team can handle this. :(

Mini-14 on April 16, 2014 at 8:52 AM

Or NOAA’s strike team. That’s right, a weather bureau has a SWAT team.

Happy Nomad on April 16, 2014 at 8:55 AM

In a speech to the group, al-Wuhayshi makes it clear that he’s going after the United States, saying “We must eliminate the cross. … The bearer of the cross is America!”

So Sayeth followers of the Religion of Peace

workingclass artist on April 16, 2014 at 8:55 AM

The simplest explanation here is that they failed to learn of the meeting before it occurred.

NotCoach on April 16, 2014 at 8:51 AM

Maybe because they were looking elsewhere. All that data collected on Americans does not mine itself.

Happy Nomad on April 16, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Party like there’s no (United States) tomorrow!

Shy Guy on April 16, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

Not to worry.

New York City police recently stopped surveillance of Mosques and other Muslim gatherings.

You can catch the next convention in the big apple.

jmtham156 on April 16, 2014 at 8:59 AM

The USA is in the process of throwing off the cross. It just gets in the way of pleasure seeking and luxury.

Kraken on April 16, 2014 at 9:03 AM

You missed a whole lot of them in Syria too. The ones you’re sending aid to? Al Nusra and fighters from Iraq are hardcore Al Qaeda and the Obama Administration is supporting them.

smoothsailing on April 16, 2014 at 9:08 AM

When we start nuking the Muslim Middle East, I will be very happy.

thejackal on April 16, 2014 at 8:47 AM

highly ignorant comment of the day

blatantblue on April 16, 2014 at 9:09 AM

Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

Don’t be stupid, of course not. Obama no doubt sent his personal representative while the Mainstream media conveniently looked the other way.

oscarwilde on April 16, 2014 at 9:11 AM

When we start nuking the Muslim Middle East, I will be very happy.

thejackal on April 16, 2014 at 8:47 AM

As I always say: There are damn few Arab surnames in Star Trek. I wonder where they all went.

Occams Stubble on April 16, 2014 at 9:11 AM

smoothsailing on April 16, 2014 at 9:08 AM

The Jihad owns most of the convenience stores in the country.We are fighting our own money.Or is that we were fighting?

docflash on April 16, 2014 at 9:13 AM

We knew about it. Someone gave them the word they would not be droned. That’s why they were out in the open.

Thicklugdonkey on April 16, 2014 at 9:17 AM

Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

Of course not. Everyone knows you can’t possibly hold a convention once you’ve been decimated.

bigmacdaddy on April 16, 2014 at 9:17 AM

As I always say: There are damn few Arab surnames in Star Trek. I wonder where they all went.

Occams Stubble on April 16, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Aren’t they the Klingons?
or maybe the Thorians?(the Thorian web)

jmtham156 on April 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

“We must eliminate the cross.”

Wait, was that at the al-Qaeda convention or Democrat convention?

BigGator5 on April 16, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Ed: AQ is no longer a threat, American citizens are…

PatriotRider on April 16, 2014 at 9:22 AM

Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

We could have easily droned them while they were all at the registration table getting their badges and goody bags, prior to breakout sessions.

rlhjax on April 16, 2014 at 9:28 AM

Wonder who was watching the goats while all the herders got together for their pow wow.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on April 16, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Well, obviously the NSA needs more intelligence-gathering powers. Maybe if they read all of my Facebook posts and all of my mom’s “thoughts for the week” emails, and carefully scrutinize every tweet from every Tea Party group, then next time they’ll be ready.

notropis on April 16, 2014 at 9:38 AM

We need a strong Chuck Hagle …played by Frank Drebin… to infiltrate the meeting

Innercat on April 16, 2014 at 9:47 AM

Innercat on April 16, 2014 at 9:48 AM

http://youtu.be/foll8sDGq4M

Innercat on April 16, 2014 at 9:48 AM

I’ll bet someone knew about it ahead of time but nobody would listen to them. Common with the White House gang.

crankyoldlady on April 16, 2014 at 9:50 AM

Don’t these guys always say they want to attack the US? I mean, when don’t they plan on that?

JetBoy on April 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM

I’ll bet the hookers didn’t miss it.

/

Ward Cleaver on April 16, 2014 at 10:03 AM

Was Sandra Fluke their begging for free contraception?

hillsoftx on April 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

They assigned the oversight of this gathering to the same guy who was supposed to keep an eye on the Tsarnaev’s.

Tom Servo on April 16, 2014 at 10:30 AM

As I always say: There are damn few Arab surnames in Star Trek. I wonder where they all went.

Occams Stubble on April 16, 2014 at 9:11 AM

Aren’t they the Klingons?
or maybe the Thorians?(the Thorian web)

jmtham156 on April 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

The Jem’Hadar.

There Goes the Neighborhood on April 16, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Wait – I thought Al Qaeda was dead and Detroit was alive; I am so confused. Besides why would we want to interrupt this little confab – it could lead to a nice diversion from the mid-terms.

ghostwalker1 on April 16, 2014 at 10:58 AM

The reason the al-Queda big shots were unconcerned is that they have achieved something every enemy of the USA has worked tirelessly for – a mole right in the top decision-making office – this one works for Barack Obama.

dockywocky on April 16, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Wonder who was watching the goats while all the herders got together for their pow wow.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on April 16, 2014 at 9:38 AM

They were allowed to bring their ‘wives’, so no problem!

ZeusGoose on April 16, 2014 at 11:11 AM

Was Sandra Fluke their begging for free contraception?

hillsoftx on April 16, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Yes, but I understand she stood in the wrong line– the one for free female genital mutilation.

If here face wasn’t her natural free contraception before, now she really won’t need it evern for those extremely rare drunken frat boys that were so blasted out their minds that they’d do her.

ZeusGoose on April 16, 2014 at 11:16 AM

Since al-Queda realized what happened in Benghazi doesn’t have to stay in Benghazi, and can be done in other places without repercussions, why hide?

31giddyup on April 16, 2014 at 11:34 AM

The current CIA, once an incredible agency, is now only CYA, all lawyered up and lapdogs of obama.

Schadenfreude on April 16, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Did we miss the al-Qaeda convention?

…of course not!…JugEars told us…they’re on the run!

KOOLAID2 on April 16, 2014 at 12:05 PM

The Presstitutes report with CONFIDENCE that in HIS unimpeachable opinion of King Putt’s on down in this administration:

We have Al Qaeda on the run!
AND don’t forget
HE (PBUH) GOT Osama Bin Laden … PERSONALLY!

Missilengr on April 16, 2014 at 12:44 PM

Not to worry.

The NSA was busy reading of my email at the time.

So everybody is safe.

Carnac on April 16, 2014 at 1:43 PM

So, this is what happens when the “smaht people” are in charge?

Gimmie a dummy back, then.

Sponge on April 16, 2014 at 1:57 PM

The incomptence of our intelligence services cannot be understated. While they continue to violate and destroy our rights while never stopping a single terrorist act. (Boston bombers, shoe bomber, Ft Hood massacre, 911, London subway bombs, attacks on electrical generation sites, etc.)

earlgrey on April 16, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Wonder who was watching the goats while all the herders got together for their pow wow.

roflmmfao

donabernathy on April 16, 2014 at 9:38 AM

Is it true that jihadist goats have lipstick on their butts?

earlgrey on April 16, 2014 at 3:35 PM

“We must eliminate the cross.”

Hey, Damn! The DHS thinks so too!!

WryTrvllr on April 16, 2014 at 8:45 PM