Was al Qaeda plotting a big attack?

Bill Gertz:
U.S. intelligence agencies recently uncovered new information indicating the al Qaeda terrorist group continues to plan for conducting terrorist attacks around the world.

Until recently al Qaeda has been overshadowed by its more violent offshoot, the Islamic State, in conducting and inspiring deadly terrorist strikes around the world. However, new intelligence obtained over the past several months revealed that al Qaeda had stepped up terror planning using the chaos of Syria as a new base of operations.

Al Qaeda operatives from the Persian Gulf States, Pakistan and elsewhere were detected in Syria. The al Qaeda terrorists are embedded with the Syrian terrorist group Al Nusrah Front but are operating independently.

“They’re using Syria as a safe haven and a place to conduct foreign operations,” said a military official familiar with intelligence reports.

The intelligence triggered major U.S. bombing raids against the group. One of the most significant took place Jan. 19, when a long-range B-52 bomber and several armed drones carried out a bombing raid in western Syria. The bomber and drones struck an al Qaeda training camp with 14 bombs, killing more than 100 terrorists. The “Shaykh Sulayman Training Camp” had been in operation at least since 2013.

“The removal of this training camp disrupts training operations and discourages hard-line Islamist and Syrian opposition groups from joining or cooperating with al Qaeda on the battlefield,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said, adding that since Jan. 1 more than 150 al Qaeda terrorists have been killed.

“These strikes, conducted in quick succession, degrade al Qaeda’s capabilities, weaken their resolve and cause confusion in their ranks,” Capt. Davis added. “We will continue to exert unrelenting pressure to defeat violent extremist groups across the globe.”

The al Qaeda targeting continued with the attack by Navy special operations forces in Yemen Jan. 28. The raid was successful in capturing a significant amount of electronic devices, officials said.
The timing of these two attacks suggests the US had some intelligence on a planned operations and the raid in Yemen was to gather details of those planned attacks.   Assuming the intelligence gathered in the Yemen raid is actionable, it may result in targeting operatives that are already in place for attacks in the US and Europe.

There is more on the Yemen special ops raid here.  NBC speculates on how the enemy may have been tipped off about the raid causing a big firefight.
It might have been a barking dog, or a crashed drone, or overheard chatter on walkie talkies. But multiple military and intelligence sources told NBC News that something tipped off the terrorist targets of an early morning raid by the U.S. and its allies in Yemen on Sunday, and all hell broke loose.


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