(Reuters) – Intercepted communication between al Qaeda leaders was one component of a broader pool of intelligence that prompted a threat alert closing numerous U.S. embassies in the Middle East and Africa, U.S. sources said on Monday. The New York Times reported that the closure of the embassies was the result of intercepted electronic communications between Ayman al-Zawahri, who replaced Osama bin Laden as head of al Qaeda, and Nasser al-Wuhayshi, the head of Yemen-based affiliate al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
U.S. sources said that while some type of message between Zawahri and AQAP was intercepted recently, there were also other streams of intelligence that contributed to the security alert, which was prompted by a threat from AQAP. "The threat picture is based on a broad range of reporting, there is no smoking gun in this threat picture," a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. U.S. officials said there was still no information about a specific target or location of a potential attack, but the threat to Western interests had not diminished.
After the State Department announced the extended closure of twenty-two U.S. diplomatic posts in the Middle East and Africa over the weekend, due to intelligence suggesting the possibility of a planned terrorist attack, Limbaugh pondered the theory that this new threat could be an attempt by the administration to distract from other stories. Limbaugh listed incidents in which he believed the White House has not been truthful before declaring, "[A]ll of a sudden here comes this monstrous terror threat … It's just easy to not believe it anymore. It's just too easy to be cynical." Approximately ten minutes later, Limbaugh returned to the topic of the embassy closures. But, ironically, this time he complained that the strain of cynicism which doubts the veracity of the embassy terrorist threat — the same doubt Limbaugh himself had expressed minutes before — is "a really dangerous thing" (Media Matters)
That bombastic blowhard Limbaugh is not alone in thinking something stinks in this whole affair. Colonel Lang surmised that "Susan Rice et al have created a fire storm of hysteria at the possibility that there could be another attack that might make her look bad in her new job. The congressional war party (Peter King, Graham, Rogers at the HPSCI, etc) have fanned the flames based on opportunities presented by briefers who know what they must convey in order to survive in their jobs. Given that "bait" the 24/7 media have an issue with which to pursue rating for a few days. In other words I think the whole thing is BS." (I couldn't say it any better so I used our host's words.)
I offer another theory. The whole chatter thing and the ominous electronic communication between the al Qaeda number 1 and number 2 about something big happening at the end of Ramadan is part of an al Qaeda strategic deception operation. Surely al Zawahiri and al Wuhayshi knew NSA would monitor their electronic communications. Perhaps they sensed that our government had plenty of reasons to want to believe this threat of a massive terrorist attack and would react accordingly. This theory of mine is probably just the result of wishful thinking. I want to believe that someone is skillful enough to pull off an operation worthy of "Smiley's People"… even if it's al Qaeda.
The truth probably lies somewhere amongst all these explanations. What say you members of this committee of correspondence?