The video clips that the U.S. military said were evidence of the success of last week’s raid on an Al Qaeda compound in Yemen have one major problem, the Pentagon acknowledged Friday: They have been on the internet for a decade.
The U.S. Central Command, which posted the video clips, pulled them from the Pentagon’s video website after it was discovered they had been posted in 2007 and were still online on the SITE Intelligence Group website.
The videos and the accompanying CENTCOM statement — which stated the clips were “a small sample of the sort of intelligence information that was obtained in the site exploitation mission” — were the latest effort from the Trump administration to defend the raid on Al Qaeda’s Yemen offshoot in which one Navy SEAL was killed and civilian casualties were reported.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer went through a detailed explanation of the approval process for the raid on Thursday, emphasizing that the Obama administration had signed off on the mission before President Donald Trump ultimately gave it the green light.
Trump will visit CENTCOM on Monday, the White House announced on Friday.
The Pentagon also has defended the raid, disputing reports that the mission had been compromised and fighters for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula anticipated the incoming SEALs.
The Pentagon announced a 2 p.m. background briefing Friday to discuss the raid in more detail, but it was canceled after the age of the video clips was discovered.
While Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis acknowledged the videos were outdated, he insisted they had in fact been captured in last week’s raid.
“It does not matter when the video was made,” Davis told reporters. “That they had it is still illustrative of who they are and what their intention was.”
The five video clips posted were titled, “Lessons in How to Destroy the Cross,” and they included instructions for how to make a bomb.
In the initial statement about the videos earlier this week, Col. John Thomas, a CENTCOM spokesman, claimed, “The videos are one example of the volumes of sensitive Al Qaeda terror-planning information recovered during the operation. What was captured from the site has already afforded insights into Al Qaeda leadership, AQAP methods of exporting terror, and how they communicate.”
Additional information obtained in the raid will remain classified, CENTCOM said.