American counter-terrorism officials are examining a new video put out by a terrorism tracking watchdog group that appears to show a very large gathering of al-Qaeda members who recently escaped from a Yemen prison.
The 15-minute video, posted on YouTube by the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC), is described as showing dozens of militants who escaped from a Yemen prison in Sana in February being greeted by al-Qaeda’s number two in command, Nasir al-Wuhayshi.
Former Guantanamo Bay detainee and top Sharia official for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Ibrahim al-Rubeish, is also featured in the clip, which is titled "The Beginning of Rain."
U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News on Tuesday evening the video seems recent and authentic, and it is being examined by intelligence analysts. They also confirmed that it shows recently escaped militants meeting al-Wuhayshi.
The officials say that, for now, drawing any larger conclusions from the spot would be speculation. There’s nothing in this video to indicate this gathering was intended to plot terrorist attacks against any target, much less the United States, they said.
“The depiction of such a large gathering of fighters and the appearance of senior leaders are atypical of AQAP’s propaganda videos,” a U.S. intelligence official told NBC News.
TRAC posted the video on April 4, but it was unclear when the footage was actually taken.
TRAC is a non-profit organization dedicated to “the study of political violence of all kinds,” according to their website. Representatives for the group did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night.