Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri is believed to have released a statement Friday condemning the ouster of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, according to a CNN report. CNN did not independently verify the authenticity of the message, but said that its language "resembles that in other messages attributed to al-Zawahiri."
The message, reportedly posted on jihadist forums Friday, alleges that the U.S. and gulf states plotted to oust Egypt's democratically-elected president and aim to divide Egypt.
"The crusaders, the seculars, the Americanized army, (former President Hosni) Mubarak's thugs and some members of Islamic parties with the support of Gulf money and American plotting, all agreed to topple Mohamed Morsy's government," he says.
Those behind Morsy's ouster, the message states, wanted a "secular, pro-American president to rule Egypt so they can continue with their plotting -- along with the Americans and Zionists -- to divide Egypt, just like what happened in Sudan."
Earlier Friday, the U.S. issued what the Associated Press called "an extraordinary global travel warning" in response to an apparent threat from Al Qaeda. In addition, the U.S. announced that it would close embassies on Sunday in the Arab world amid concerns about security.
The closures came after U.S. intelligence agencies intercepted communications between Al Qaeda operatives discussing plans to attack U.S. targets in the Middle East, unnamed officials told the New York Times.
Other statements by al-Zawahiri that were posted to jihadist forums earlier this week lent weight to the threat of an attack, though the actual details of the plot detected by U.S. intelligence are being kept classified.
It is unusual for the United States to come across discussions among senior Qaeda operatives about operational planning — through informants, intercepted e-mails or eavesdropping on cellphone calls. So when the high-level intercepts were collected and analyzed this week, senior officials at the C.I.A., State Department and White House immediately seized on their significance. Members of Congress have been provided classified briefings on the matter, officials said Friday.
“This was a lot more than the usual chatter,” said one senior American official who had been briefed on the information but would not provide details. Spokesmen for the State Department and the C.I.A. also declined to comment on the intercepts.
The importance of the intercepts was underscored by a speech that the Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, posted on jihadist forums on Tuesday. In his address, Mr. Zawahri called for attacks on American interests in response to its military actions in the Muslim world and American drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors statements by jihadists.