I think there are three possible explanations, I will start with the most likely one:
- Somebody is making this nonsense up. It could either be the tabloids themselves since this will produce clicks and therefore revenue, or it is somebody, who believes that eavesdropping on everybody needs to continue.
- Al Qaeda is trolling the NSA. This is actually what I would do. Get on a phone/skype account on which it is likely that somebody is listening in; and just make terror plots up. That tactic could even be used to frame totally innocent people that you don't like. Want to get rid of someone? Just write him an e-mail from a NSA infested account like GMail, for good measure attach an easily decrypted file with a fantasy terror plot about large breasted women blowing themselves up in airliners. That person does not even know that he is now being watched and about to be captured and then tortured.
- Terrorists are idiots, and they actually do discuss their plots on the phone. The problem with this explanation is that bin Laden stopped to use a phone for anything long before Snowden's revelations. In fact it was supposedly a phone call which later led to his
executionattempted capture, anyways. So every terrorist with half a brain should have known for two years now, that phones should not be used by them.