Questions remain about the mixed messages over who omitted al Qaeda from Amb. Susan Rice's talking points on the consulate attack in Benghazi, Libya
U.S. intelligence believes that assailants connected to al Qaeda in Iraq were among the core group that attacked the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, a U.S. government official told CNN.
Previously, intelligence officials said there were signs of connections to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the North African wing of the terror group.
The revelation that members of al Qaeda in Iraq are suspected of involvement in the Libya attack comes at a time when there is a growing number of fighters from that group also taking part in the Syrian civil war.
Anderson Cooper talks with a former CIA deputy chief about the significance of the death of Abu Yahya al-Libi.
Peter Bergen was the only journalist allowed in the al Qaeda leader's compound. He describes what he saw and learned.
Anderson Cooper talks to former FBI agent Ali Soufan about al-Awlaki's prominence on the Arabian peninsula.
Editor's Note: Tonight on AC360°, Anderson interviews Ali Soufan, a former top FBI Special Agent who's been on the legal frontiers in the fight against Al Qaeda. He'll give us an insider's perspective on the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, a major figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Read an excerpt from his book and tune in at 8pm ET.
By Ali H. Soufan with Daniel Freedman
So it is said that if you know your enemies and know yourself, you will win a hundred times in a hundred battles.
—Sun Tzu, The Art of War
“You can’t stop the mujahideen,” Abu Jandal told me on September 17, 2001. “We will be victorious.” We sat across a rectangular table from each other in a nondescript interrogation room with unadorned white walls in a high-level national security prison in Sanaa, the capital of Yemen. The prison was operated by the country’s central intelligence agency, the Political Security Organization (PSO), the complex also serving as its headquarters. PSO officials in traditional Yemeni dress were ranged on plastic chairs along one wall, observing the conversation. Abu Jandal—the name means “father of death”—was the most senior al-Qaeda operative in custody; he had served as Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguard and trusted confidant. We got to him through Fahd al-Quso, a Yemeni al-Qaeda operative involved in the October 12, 2000, bombing of the USS Cole. Quso had identified, in a photograph shown to him the previous evening, a man whom we knew to be Marwan al-Shehhi, who was on board United Airlines Flight 175 when it crashed into the south tower of the World Trade Center. Shehhi had once stayed at a safe house in Afghanistan operated by Abu Jandal.
I gave my partner, Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) special agent Robert McFadden, a bemused look. He raised his eyebrows and smiled at Abu Jandal. Only training and experience enabled Bob and me to smile and appear relaxed, because below the surface we were seething. “You’ll find that you have underestimated America,” I replied, speaking in Arabic, “but tell me, why do you think you’ll be victorious?”
CNN Wire Staff
Washington (CNN) - Nearly nine years after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, Americans still face a serious threat from al Qaeda, according to a new report from a panel of top national security experts.
Among other things, the 42-page analysis warns of the expanding role played by U.S. citizens and residents within al Qaeda and allied organizations. It describes an increasingly wide range of "U.S.-based jihidist militants" who do not fit "any particular ethnic, economic, educational, or social profile."
The United States, the report asserts, now confronts "a dynamic threat that has diversified to a broad array of different attacks, from shootings to car bombs to simultaneous suicide attacks to attempted in-flight bombings of passenger aircraft."
Would-be terrorists are now likely to attempt more frequent and less sophisticated attacks compared to what transpired in 2001, the report states. Preventing such attacks will require greater involvement from state and local public safety officials, it says.
Program note: CNN Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson spent a year investigating convicted terrorist, Bryant Neal Vinas. He is now on assignment in Pakistan tracking down details of Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad. Watch AC360° tonight at 10pm ET to see Parts 2 & 3 of Robertson's report. Watch CNN"s "American Al Qaeda: The Story of Bryant Neal Vinas" on Saturday and Sunday, May 15-16, at 8pm ET.
Paul Cruickshank and Nic Robertson
Nearly a decade ago, a group of Saudis and other men from the Middle East came to the United States to carry out the worst terrorist attack on the U.S.
Not a single one had American citizenship.
Almost nine years after the September 11 attacks, the threat of another major terror strike is still a concern, but where the threat is coming from has changed.
A growing number of American citizens and longtime residents of the United States are becoming radicalized enough by al Qaeda's extremist ideology to kill their fellow Americans, counterterrorism officials say.
A growing number are also learning the bomb-making skills necessary to become potentially dangerous terrorists, the officials say. They are training in the mountains of Waziristan in northwestern Pakistan, where al Qaeda still enjoys significant safety.
That's where, according to the U.S. government, alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was trained by the Pakistani Taliban, a group with close ties to al Qaeda.
Shahzad's case has strong similarities to that of another American who plotted with terrorist groups in Pakistan to attack the United States. His name is Bryant Neal Vinas, a Catholic convert to Islam from Long Island, New York, who became radicalized, traveled to Pakistan to join up with al Qaeda and helped Osama bin Laden's terrorist organization plot a bomb attack on New York City.
When news of Vinas' arrest broke last summer, family members, friends and terrorism experts where dumbfounded by how a studious, middle-class, baseball-loving, all-American kid and onetime U.S. Army recruit could end up plotting to kill in the name of al Qaeda.