WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military on Friday released a short clip from training videos seized in last weekend’s Yemen raid, but the images appear to be vintage al Qaeda footage that was first made public a decade ago.
U.S. Central Command said the clip, which is a bit longer than a minute, came from five longer videos found on a computer taken from the al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula compound that special operations forces raided. They said it is an example of the type of threat that AQAP fighters represent to the U.S. and other western nations.
The images are similar to al Qaeda training footage released on the internet in 2007. Bomb-making has long been a staple of the insurgent group’s instructional videos, and do-it-yourself footage can quickly and easily be found.
Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the age of the video doesn’t matter. The fact that it was at the compound illustrates the intentions of the enemy fighters there, he said. There was “significant actionable intelligence” gathered at the compound, Davis explained, and the U.S. military is still going through it all. Much of it will be classified as secret and not releasable.
The raid ended in a fierce firefight killing a Navy SEAL and 14 militants, including two operational planners and an AQAP weapons experts, Central Command said. The presence of the AQAP leaders, it said, underscored early assessments that the compound was being used as a staging location, propaganda center and logistics hub for the group.
The military believes an undetermined number of civilians also were killed in the raid, including two children.
Air Force Col. John Thomas, Central Command spokesman, said that the military is reviewing the operation and it was unclear how the civilians were killed or who may have fired at them. The Pentagon has said that some of the deadly fire came from U.S. fighter jets and helicopters called in by special operations forces to help them in the firefight and allow them to get out.
In the al Qaeda video, a man wearing a white lab coat and a black hood with his glasses perched over it talks about explosives training.
The man says the training is “how to destroy the cross with explosives” - an apparent reference to fighting the West and the U.S.
He adds, “We start by reminding you with a very important point that we would like as many people to graduate with this knowledge and expertise as possible,” according to a translation by Central Command.
The video also shows someone mixing liquids in scientific-looking beakers.
After taking another look at the video, Thomas said U.S. officials agree that the footage appears to be older. Central Command removed the video from the Defense Department website.
Thomas said the footage was part of the large amount of data taken in the raid. He said the team collected more intelligence and data “than we’ve gotten at any one time on AQAP up to now.” It included videos, computer and communications equipment and data.
He said the U.S. military has been trying to build up its understanding and intelligence on al Qaeda’s Yemen-based affiliate.
Thomas said enemy combatants, including a number of women, appeared to be more prepared to defend their compound than initially expected. Women in the compound grabbed guns and went to what appeared to be pre-planned fighting positions.
He said that after extensive review of the mission by the team over the last several days, officials have concluded that there was “no indication, no evidence, anyone knew they were coming.”
Members of the team were at the compound for some time before they were detected by the enemy fighters, he said.