A video posted in recent weeks on Islamist websites appears to show a gathering of Al Qaeda militants in Yemen, an event CNN described as “the largest and most dangerous” meeting of the terrorist network which included its second in command.
CNN, which first reported on the video, wrote Tuesday that U.S. intelligence officials either did not know the gathering was going to take place, or did not have a drone in the area available to strike the open-air event.
U.S. officials told the Washington Post that the video appeared to be both recent and authentic and that the CIA was now analyzing its contents to uncover clues about possible future moves for the notorious terrorist group.
In the video, the militants are seen toting automatic weapons and black flags, listening to speeches, singing and chanting together. The Post described the holding of the large outdoor meeting as “brazen.”
Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the chief of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and second in command of Al Qaeda globally, is seen on the tape without a scarf covering his face issuing a warning that the terrorist group continues to have its eyes set on attacking the U.S.
“We must eliminate the cross,” Wuhayshi told dozens of Al Qaeda militants, according to a CNN translation. “The bearer of the cross is America.”
The faces of some of the others on the tape were digitally obscured in an apparent effort to protect their identities.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has been described as the most active segment of the terrorist group and was behind the plot to blow up an American passenger plane flying to Detroit on Christmas day in 2009 using explosives sewn inside a terrorist’s underwear.
Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Rep. Mike Rogers told CNN of the video, “We think that they’re feeling empowered. The less pressure you put on them, the more they take that as a victory, the more that they believe that they can get away with plotting, planning, organizing as you saw there (in the video), finance, training.”
“I think they have these meetings more often than people realize,” Rogers said.
“It’s difficult to get assets in position. You have to know where they are and where they meet at the right time in the right place with the right equipment,” the congressman said.
Here is the video to which the Washington Post linked via YouTube: