By Paul Cruickshank
A purported new issue of an English-language al Qaeda magazine linked to the Boston terrorist attacks was posted on an al Qaeda web forum earlier this week, but its content beyond its cover page was scrambled, suggesting the possibility the forum was hacked by Western intelligence agencies.
The magazine, produced by al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate - al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which regularly includes how-to instructions for followers to carry out terrorist attacks in the West - has received significant scrutiny in recent weeks.
Investigators believe that Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev accessed Inspire magazine, and the material had instructions on bomb-making, a law enforcement official told CNN earlier this month.
According to analysts, the explosive devices the Boston bombers built had striking similarities to a bomb recipe in the first issue of the magazine - "How to build a bomb in your Mom's kitchen" - that has been downloaded by militants in multiple Islamist terrorist plots on both sides of the Atlantic.
By Paul Cruickshank, Tim Lister, Nic Robertson and Fran Townsend
Several Yemeni men belonging to al Qaeda took part in the terrorist attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi last September, according to several sources who have spoken with CNN.
One senior U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that "three or four members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula," or AQAP, took part in the attack.
Another source briefed on the Benghazi investigation said Western intelligence services suspect the men may have been sent by the group specifically to carry out the attack. But it's not been ruled out that they were already in the city and participated as the opportunity arose.
The attack on the compound and subsequently on a "safe-house" to which Americans had been evacuated left four U.S. citizens dead, including the ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens.
Read the full story here.
By Paul Cruickshank
AQAP, al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen, on Thursday released a tenth issue of its glossy online English language magazine Inspire.
Dated "Spring 2013" and compiled after French forces moved against jihadists in Mali in January, the magazine contains a familiar litany of propaganda articles railing against the West (with "crusader" France the latest target) mixed with how-to advice on launching terrorist attacks in the West, all illustrated with colorful graphics and catchy titles.
But the new issue also cleared up a mystery that has long puzzled counterterrorism analysts.
In late 2011, several weeks after a U.S. drone strike killed the magazine's original creative forces - American militants Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan - a new English speaker called Abu Yazeed began to appear in AQAP's videos. His face was partly in shadow, but one could make out glasses and a full beard. He spoke with an accent.
At the time, counterterrorism analysts had no idea who he was.
But the latest issue of Inspire lifted the veil in an obituary piece revealing that Abu Yazeed had been killed while fighting in southern Yemen.
It described Abu Yazeed al Qatari as a Yemeni in his early 20s from "a respectable family" who spent much of his life in Qatar.
It said that several years ago, Abu Yazeed had traveled to the UK to earn a degree in a subject he was "passionate" about - science - but he quickly grew disillusioned with the "hypocrisy of the West" and abandoned his studies to go back to Yemen to join up with jihadists. FULL POST
By Michael Martinez, CNN
The second-in-command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was killed in a recent counter-terrorism operation, the Yemeni government confirmed Thursday.
Abu Sufyan al-Azdi, also known as Saeed al-Shahri, died after being wounded in the governorate of Saadah on November 28, said the Supreme National Security Committee of Yemen. He was also one of the most wanted men in Saudi Arabia.
Al-Azdi was buried by militants linked to al Qaeda at an undisclosed location inside Yemen, the government said in a statement.
The confirmation comes a day after a prominent jihadist announced that al-Azdi died "after a long journey in fighting the Zio-Crusader campaign."FULL STORY
By Suzanne Kelly, Pam Benson and Elise Labott
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.
That would represent the second al Qaeda affiliate associated with the deadly September 11 attack that killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.
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.
By Tim Lister and Hakim Almasmari
One of the Bond movies had the title "You Only Live Twice," but in the case of one of al Qaeda's most dangerous operatives even that may be a serious underestimate.
Abu Sufyan Said al-Shihri was - or is - the second most senior figure in al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Last month, the Yemeni Defense Ministry announced al-Shihri had been killed "in an operation" in the Hadramawt Valley, a stronghold of AQAP in the south of the country.
But al-Shihri appears to have resurfaced with a defiant audio message.
In the message - called "Events and Lessons" and released by AQAP's media wing, Al-Malahem, on Monday - a speaker purported to be al-Shihri declares: "What has been reported in various media outlets regarding my death in the Arabian Peninsula is a rumor to cover the killing of innocent unarmed Muslims in Yemen."
Al-Shihri (if it was him) accused the Yemeni government of being an American puppet. FULL POST
By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
(CNN) - The latest in a flurry of messages from al Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahiri shows his growing interest in exploiting violence in Syria. In a 35-minute audio address posted on jihadist forums on Wednesday, Zawahiri claimed the United States was actually supporting the Assad regime to prevent an Islamist state from taking its place.
"Supporting jihad in Syria to establish a Muslim state is a basic step towards Jerusalem, and thus America is giving the secular Baathist regime one chance after another, for fear that a government is established in Syria that would threaten Israel," Zawahiri said, according to a translation provided by the SITE Monitoring Service.
It is not the first time Zawahiri has cast a covetous eye over events in Syria.
In February, he used most of an address to try to graft al Qaeda onto the growing insurgency.
By Tim Lister and Paul Cruickshank
Abu Sufyan Said al-Shihri was prisoner number 327 at the Guantanamo Bay, Cubla, detention center, transported there after being captured as he tried to cross the border into Pakistan from Afghanistan late in 2001.
But in 2007 he argued before a review board that he was a Muslim - not a terrorist - and if allowed to return home to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia he would join his family's furniture business.
Al-Shihri was repatriated and put through a rehabilitation program, but within months absconded to become one of the founding members of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in neighboring Yemen.
Four years later, his reported demise - in the remote and mountainous Hadramawt province - is a significant success for Yemen's armed forces in their re-energized campaign against AQAP and its allies in the south and east of the country.
Yemeni forces have killed Said al-Shihri, second in command of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Defense Ministry said Monday. An official military website cited a senior source saying al-Shihri was killed in an operation in Hadramawt Valley.
A Yemeni government official told CNN's Mohammad Jamjoom that an operation took place and a body appears to be that of al-Shihri, but that officials are waiting for DNA confirmation.
Al-Shihri was once held by the United States at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. In November 2007 he was transferred to Saudi custody, and underwent a program designed to lead people away from terrorism.
By Jamie Crawford
The United States will provide Yemen with the largest amount of U.S. government assistance to date for both the civilian and security sectors,the State Department announced Tuesday.
The Obama administration will provide $337 million in assistance in the 2012 fiscal year, up from $147 million provided in the previous fiscal year, the State Department said in a news release.
The United States has an interest in ensuring stability in Yemen, which is one of the poorest countries in the Arab world and one where a democratic transition is still under way. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the organization's most lethal affiliate, is based in the southern portion of the country.