A new video released on global Islamist websites purports to show a large meeting of al-Qaeda terrorists in Yemen, with the group's “crown prince” vowing to attack America because it is the “bearer of the cross.” CNN reported that the video, which is dated from March of this year, “shows what looks like the largest and most dangerous gathering of al Qaeda in years.” The news site added that “the CIA and the Pentagon either didn't know about it or couldn't get a drone there in time to strike.”
The clip features Nasir al-Wuhayshi, al-Qaeda's second in command and head of the terror group in the Arabian Peninsula. Known euphemistically as al-Qaeda's “crown prince,” Al-Wuhayshi can be seen on the video saying that he wants to attack the United States. Referring to America's predominant Christian faith, he tells the 100 or so supposed Yemen terrorists that “we must eliminate the cross.... The bearer of the cross is America!”
Peter Bergen, a national security analyst with CNN, said that the “U.S. intelligence community should be surprised that such a large group of al Qaeda assembled together, including the leadership, and somehow they didn't notice.” He added that it was surprising al-Wuhayshi appeared out in the open with no apparent concern that he might be targeted by a U.S. drone strike.
The United States has targeted and killed a number of terrorist figures tied to al-Qaeda of the Arab Peninsula (AQAP), considered the group's most ruthless branch.
In response to the video a U.S. State Department spokeswoman, Marie Harf, told a press briefing it did not represent “breaking news that AQAP is a significant threat to the United States, the people of Yemen, to other people in the region and around the world.” She noted that AQAP has been linked to attempted attacks against the United States, including the attempted “shoe bomb” attack against a Detroit bound airliner in 2009 and an attempt on a cargo plane in 2010.
“I don't think we can make generalizations about [AQAP's] strength based on one video, quite frankly,” said Harf. “We know they've been gaining in strength.... So, I don't think this increases our concern, because quite frankly, our concern was already incredibly high.”
But despite the fact that the U.S. government has targeted al-Qaeda in the global “war on terror,” the U.S has also armed the terror group, and those arms have been used against Americans. In an article published by The New American April 23, Thomas Eddlem reported that in at least one case in which al-Qaeda was responsible for a deadly attack on Americans, the terrorists were supplied with their weapons by the U.S. government. Eddlem noted that a report by the “Citizens Commission on Benghazi,” made up of a dozen and a half former high-ranking military and intelligence specialists for the U.S. government, concluded that “the U.S. was fully aware of and facilitating the delivery of weapons to the al-Qa’eda-dominated rebel militias” throughout the 2011 rebellion that toppled the Qadhafi regime. Those weapons were later used in the deadly September 12, 2012 al-Qaeda attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, which killed U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.