Hundreds of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula contacts found in Yemen raid, US official says

Some of the valuable intelligence gleaned in the Navy SEAL raid in Yemen on Jan. 28 included hundreds of contacts for al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in the region and the West, a U.S. official told ABC News today.

The U.S. official familiar with the intelligence gathered from the raid told ABC News that information obtained in the Jan. 28 raid included contacts on hundreds of AQAP sympathizers in the Middle East and in the West.

The contacts included email addresses, messaging app identities and phone numbers, according to the official. AQAP has actively planned attacks against western targets. The contacts were obtained from computers and cellphones seized in the raid, according to the official.

The U.S. military conducted more than 20 airstrikes on Thursday in three Yemeni provinces targeting AQAP militants and equipment, officials said. A U.S. official said the mission had been long planned and though they were not the direct result of the January raid, intelligence gathered in the raid confirmed information about the targets.

The nighttime raid on Jan. 28 conducted by SEAL Team Six in rural southern Yemen was intended as an intelligence gathering mission targeting a known AQAP compound, officials said.

Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator William “Ryan” Owens was killed in the intense firefight that occurred during the raid and five other American service members were wounded by enemy fire or injured in an MV-22 Osprey “hard landing,” officials said.

The U.S. military has said that 14 AQAP fighters were killed in the raid. An ongoing U.S. Central Command review has determined that some civilians were also killed, including possibly children. Local reports in Yemen have said as many as 25 civilians may have been killed during the raid.

But there have been recent reports questioning whether any useful intelligence was gathered from the raid.

In his speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night, President Trump affirmed that the mission had successfully obtained “vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemy.”

Before the president’s remarks on Tuesday night, a senior U.S. official had said that “valuable intelligence” had been obtained from the raid.

According to that senior U.S. official, intelligence gathered during the raid has provided insights into AQAP’s activities, particularly the terror group’s recruiting, training techniques and explosives manufacturing.

The official said the intelligence obtained in the raid, described in a three-page list, has provided insights into who the terror group is targeting. ABC