US in massive search for al Qaeda contacts based on intel from Yemen strike
Several US officials told CNN Thursday that the US is now taking action to locate and monitor hundreds of people or "contacts" found as part the intelligence retrieved during the deadly raid last month in Yemen targeting al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.Those who denigrated the attack appear to be acting on political motivation more than military analysis. Not only is the US military exploiting the information with follow-up attack in Yemen, but it looks like the intelligence haul could be significant in finding al Qaeda operatives and contacts in Europe.
Some of these people are believed to be in the West, but not in the United States.
The government is taking action to find and monitor these AQAP-linked individuals because of the threat they may pose to Europe, the officials added.
The fact that officials said they are actively pursuing leads uncovered from the raid indicates that the intelligence was indeed actionable despite some media reports to the contrary.
The terabyte's worth of intelligence gathered from computers and cell phones is now being reviewed at the National Media Exploitation Center outside Washington, which analyzes documents, electronic media, cell phones, video and audio tapes seized on overseas missions.
Defense officials have told CNN that information pertaining to the location of safe havens, explosives manufacturing, training and targets was acquired in the January ground operation.
Gen. Joseph Votel, who oversees US troops in the region, called the mission "successful" from the military's point of view.
"The object was to go in and collect intelligence. We accomplished that, so from that perspective it was successful. I certainly understand how the family would look at this in a different light," Votel told CBS News.