The intercepted al-Qaeda message that sparked a spate of US embassy closings and travel warnings came from the very top. Ayman al-Zawahri, leader of al-Qaeda since the death of Osama bin Laden, had ordered the head of the terror group's Yemen-based affiliate al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to carry out an attack, reports the New York Times, which says it knew of Zawahri's involvement last week but was asked to keep it quiet by the State Department.
AQAP founder Nasser al-Wuhayshi, bin Laden's former private secretary, was recently promoted to No. 2 in the wider al-Qaeda organization, a move analysts see as an attempt to compensate for the terror group's setbacks elsewhere. "It’s very worrisome because al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is the most effective and threatening affiliate," a terrorism expert tells the Washington Post. "So now the leader of the most consequential affiliate has an intimate command role in the overall organization."