Prior to the worldwide security alert that temporarily shuttered U.S. embassies throughout the Middle East earlier this month, authorities captured an al Qaeda courier who had in his possession a recording of a seven-hour Internet-hosted meeting between more than 20 senior al Qaeda leaders from around the globe, U.S. intelligence officials said.

On August 7, The Daily Beast first reported that intelligence officials had learned of a remote conference between senior al Qaeda leaders, as well as representatives from al Qaeda branches in Iraq, the Maghreb, and Southeast Asia. The conversations that occurred on the conference, put together with other communications intelligence, prompted the Obama administration to take drastic security precautions to address a vague but seemingly imminent threat on western interests being planned by the terrorist organization.

The Daily Beast has learned new details about the conference, including that it was conducted over a secure Internet messaging system and that U.S. and Yemeni officials learned about it after intercepting the communications of an al Qaeda courier, who was subsequently captured by Yemen’s National Security Bureau with help from the CIA.