The Daily Beast,
U.S. officials followed the Internet trail of an al Qaeda courier to learn the details of an electronic conference between more than 20 of the organization’s top officials.
Prior to the worldwide security alert that temporarily shuttered U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East earlier this month, authorities captured an al Qaeda courier who had in his possession a recording of a seven-hour Internet-hosted meeting between more than 20 senior al Qaeda leaders from around the globe, U.S. intelligence officials said.
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Earlier this summer, the al Qaeda courier began uploading messages to a series of encrypted accounts containing minutes of what appeared to have been an important meeting. A U.S. intelligence agency was able to exploit a flaw in the courier’s operational security, intercepting the digital packets and locating the courier, according to two U.S. intelligence officials and one U.S. official who reviewed the intelligence. All three officials spoke on condition of anonymity.
The courier remains in Yemeni custody. According to the three U.S. officials, Yemeni intelligence discovered a treasure trove of information in the courier’s possession, including not only meeting minutes but an actual Web recording of the seven-hour, Internet-based al Qaeda conference between the organization’s top leaders and representatives of its many affiliates and aspiring affiliates.
The conference was conducted in classical Arabic and included proxies and leaders from al Qaeda’s regional branches as well as the heads of the group’s various committees. Some participants in the conference joined via a video connection, others communicated only through audio, and still others in the conference communicated via text. The discussion ranged from routine business affairs to theological matters, according to the two U.S. intelligence officials who analyzed the intelligence haul from the courier.
Phi Beta Iota: In our view, now that it has been revealed by a combination of good cyber-sleuthing and good human liaison, the entirely of the recording should be released to the public for independent public analysis and exploitation. The three officials that discussed this should be hunted down, tried, and convicted for treason. Absent full public release, the alleged recording must be considered a US influence operation and largely falsified. It might also be a Mossad theatrical re-enactment. At the same time, the question must be asked, if the Internet conference actually took place: why did NSA miss a seven-hour long engagement of just about everybody they are supposed to be monitoring?