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Mr. Zarif later sought to quell the controversy caused by his comments but did not back down. He said his remarks had been “distorted” by critics and said what he meant was that the Iranian nation remains the main deterrent to a U.S. attack, not Iran’s weaponry.


Terrorists from North Africa converged recently for a summit meeting of jihadist groups in Benghazi, Libya, according to a German press report.

The meeting was described as a “Maghreb-wide jihadist summit” that included representatives of al Qaeda in the Lands of the Islamic Maghreb, and the Syrian al Qaeda group Nusrah Front, according to the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.

The meeting took place in September at a base operated by Ansar al-Shariah, the al Qaeda-linked group behind the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound and CIA annex in Benghazi, the Dec. 15 report stated.

Speakers at the conference included Abu Iyadh, leader of the Tunisian terrorist group Ansar al-Shariah, a different group that uses the same name.

Abu Iyadh appealed to fellow terrorists for support for his group in anticipation of conflict with the Tunisian government. He asked the groups not to dispatch Tunisian jihadists to Syria and instead send them to Tunisia in efforts to take over the country.

Nusrah Front officials at the meeting disagreed with Abu Iyadh: The Front has relied on training and dispatching thousands of jihadists, including those at bases in Libya, to the Syrian conflict.

As part of a compromise worked out at the summit, Tunisian terrorists would be sent home in exchange for assurances that all other fighters dispatched to Syria would be under the command of the Nusrah Front and not the rival Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

A U.S. counterterrorism official had no comment.


The National Security Agency undermined its reputation as America’s most secret intelligence agency by opening its doors to CBS News’ “60 Minutes” Sunday. It was the first time the supersecret electronic eavesdropping agency had allowed news cameras inside its sprawling compound at Fort George G. Meade, Md.

During the program, NSA official Rick Ledgett revealed new details about the case of former contractor Edward Snowden. Mr. Ledgett confirmed that the total number documents stolen by Mr. Snowden is about 1.7 million and includes some of the agency’s most sensitive secrets.

Mr. Snowden, working at the NSA’s Kunia facility in Hawaii, was able to steal the documents by using his position as a low-level computer system administrator. He copied the documents despite arousing suspicions from other NSA keepers of secrets.

“He did something that we call ‘scraping,’ where he went out and used tools to scrape information from [classified] websites, and put it into a place where he could download it,” Mr. Ledgett said.

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