The recently discovered Middle East terrorism plot was not arranged and planned by al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, but rather by the head of the underworld group's Yemeni branch, Nasir al-Wuhayshi, the Wall Street Journal reported.
This revelation was among additional details offered by a senior U.S. official on Thursday regarding the threat that caused the White House to close 19 U.S. embassies.
The communication that the United States intercepted was a presentation by the Yemeni branch leader to Zawahiri, who then gave Wuhayshi his implied go-ahead, current and former U.S. officials said in interviews with the Journal.
"Zawahiri isn't directing the plot that we're concerned about emanating from Yemen," the senior government official said.
During the terrorists' conference call, which included other leaders of the central group and al-Qaida's global offshoots, Wuhayshi was also promoted to general manager for al-Qaida's operations, according to the Daily Beast. He is now a significant target for the United States, according to the website.
The Yemeni branch, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, has expanded in recent months into a large and isolated eastern province of Yemen called Hadramaut, the Washington Post reported. According to the newspaper, AQAP wants to create a new haven in the region that is the ancestral homeland of al-Qaida's founder, Osama bin Laden.