AL QAEDA INTERCEPT CHALLENGES STORY OF TERROR GROUP ’ON THE RUN’

Fox News on August 7, 2013, reported that top-level communications among Al Qaeda operatives prompted the ongoing security alert affecting U.S. embassies around the world have raised even more questions about the Obama administration’s repeated claims that Al Qaeda is “on the run.” Excerpts below:

The assertion that Al Qaeda — with the death of Usama bin Laden and of many of his lieutenants — is a shell of its former self was a linchpin of the 2012 Obama campaign. Even with the ongoing security threat, the State Department insisted recently that the “Al Qaeda core has been weakened, decimated,” despite lingering concerns about the affiliates. President Obama repeated, during a visit to Camp Pendleton, that “the core of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan is on the way to defeat.”

The Daily Beast reported on August 7 that sources said it was a massive conference call of more than 20 Al Qaeda leaders that tipped off the U.S. to the alleged terror plot.

Fox News has confirmed that an “electronic intercept” of a communication between Al Qaeda boss Ayman al-Zawahiri and the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula did lead to the precautionary measures.

“It shows that despite what we may have heard, that Al Qaeda core has diminished … they’re very much alive and well,” Josh Rogin, who co-wrote the article, told Fox News. “It’s a much more cohesive organization than we previously realized.”

The claim of Al Qaeda’s decline has been challenged over the past week, as the administration scrambled to close 19 embassies and consulates through Saturday in response to the threat.

On August 6, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., while praising the administration’s response to the threat, chastised its claims that Al Qaeda is weakened.

“I’m very critical of President Obama for trying to act as if Al Qaida has been defeated, they’ve been decimated,” he told Fox News. “It’s only a pre-9/11 attitude we have. The fact is, Al Qaeda — yes, their central command has been hit very hard, but they morphed and metastasized. They now have affiliates all over.”

King described the policy of targeting Al Qaeda leaders while at the same time telling the American people the group is defeated as “schizophrenic.”

The security warnings are fueled not only by the intercepted communications but also recent jailbreaks in several countries that have allowed dozens of extremist operatives and their supporters back onto the streets.

The Yemeni government also announced on August 7 that they disrupted Al Qaeda plots against oil pipelines and an important port.

A senior U.S. official told Fox News that these plots likely were “part and parcel of a larger operation the AQAP has in the works.” This official said despite the disruption of these plots, “there is an ongoing threat beyond Yemen.”

“They may have disrupted an element but concern remains about a larger operation out there,” the official said.

Aside from the drone strikes, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News that there are currently about 1,400 Marines aboard U.S. Naval vessels off the coast of Yemen. They have been there for some time, but are in a position to help if needed.

Walid Phares, Fox News Middle East and terrorism analyst, suggested the Obama administration is still relying too much on drone strikes to take out terror operatives who end up being replaced by other operatives.

The solution, he said, is “terminating what produces them.”

“What produces Al Qaeda is the ideology. We’re not waging war on the ideology — we actually, the administration that is, is not even recognizing that there is one,” Phares said.

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