A video published recently on Islamist websites purports to show a large group of al-Qaeda fighters, including the terrorist group’s second in command, gathering in an open air location.
Counterterrorism authorities are scrutinizing the video for clues to potential plots, the Washington Post reports, citing unnamed U.S. officials. Officials told the Post the video appears to be recent and authentic. They declined to explain why there had been no U.S. strike on the gathering in an undisclosed, open location.
Nasir al-Wuhayshi, al-Qaeda’s leader in Yemen, is said to appear in the video without a mask, along with other group leaders. Some faces in the footage are blurred out, raising fears the organization may be seeking to protect the identities of recruits being trained for attacks.
The video evokes footage shot in the late 1990s of al-Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. The terrorist network’s Yemen affiliate has generally avoided open-air meetings.
The United States has carried out eight strikes in Yemen so far this year. A U.S. strike there in December killed a dozen people in a wedding caravan.