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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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August 20th, 2013
05:24 PM ET

Authorities seize 'treasure trove' of information on al Qaeda

U.S. and Yemeni authorities have reportedly obtained a recording of a seven-hour internet conference call between more than 20 al Qaeda leaders from around the globe, affectionately known as the "Legion of Doom" meeting by one intelligence official.

The recordings were pulled off a captured al Qaeda courier.

Newsweek/The Daily Beast reporter Josh Rogin broke the story with colleague Eli Lake.

Rogin said information on the recordings led to the shuttering of U.S. embassies two weeks ago.

"They discuss a bunch of issues, including this eminent, yet vague threat on U.S. interests that prompted the worldwide terror alert," said Rogin.

The conference took place over a secure internet-based environment that al Qaeda had set up, some people participated through internet chats, some were on audio, and some were on video - they could plug in however they wanted, said Rogin.

"People came in and out, including the terrorist leader of al Qaeda [Ayman al-Zawahiri], and the new leader of AQAP in Yemen [Nasser al-Wuhayshi]. They had the big roles and messages here, and everyone else chimed in when they wanted to," said Rogin.

The conference itself was actually secure, and was given to a courier who was then disseminating it to less secure places to others in the al Qaeda community, said Rogin.

"When this courier decided to send this out to other people, that's when he made a mistake in his operational securities that U.S. intelligence officials seized upon," said Rogin.

When U.S. and Yemeni authorities found him, "he had this whole video in his pocket, along with a treasure trove of information that officials have been poring over ever since," said Rogin.

The recordings reveal al Qaeda's thinking, announced a promotion, and indicated a new era of attacks that al Qaeda will usher in, said Rogin.

"The imminent yet vague threat that may or may not have passed was just one small portion of this, and it has given [U.S. and Yemini] officials a lot to pore over. It will take weeks or months to sort out," said Rogin.

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