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Yemen's branch of al-Qaida says US claims of intercepting attack plans were 'propaganda'

Yemen's al-Qaida offshoot says U.S. claims that it intercepted a message between the local branch of the terror network and its chief, Ayman al-Zawahri, were "propaganda."

In a statement posted late Tuesday on a militant website, the group said the claims were attempts "to justify the killing of Muslims in Yemen."

The U.S. closed 19 of its diplomatic missions in the Middle East and Africa early this month after saying it had intercepted a message between al-Qaida chief al-Zawahri and Nasser al-Wahishi, the leader of the Yemen-based al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, about plans for a major attack.

The U.S. considers the Yemen branch of al-Qaida to be the network's most dangerous. U.S. drones regularly target its leaders and operatives.