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April 22, 2013

Inspire Magazine: A Staple Of Domestic Terror

Pressure Cooker Bomb From Inspire Magazine

Update – May 30: The eleventh issue of Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula’s Inspire mag­a­zine cel­e­brates the April 15 Boston Bomb­ing, praises the Tsar­naev broth­ers and encour­ages future attacks against the U.S.

Update – April 23: Federal law enforcement officials have reportedly confirmed that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his brother got bomb-making instructions from Inspire magazine.

Shortly after authorities revealed that pressure cookers were used in the explosives detonated at the Boston Marathon last week, numerous media outlets began to report and speculate that the bombs matched designs in Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language terror magazine, Inspire.

Let’s be clear, there is still no evidence that brothers Tamerlan and Dzkhokhar Tsarnaev read the terrorist magazine or used its pressure cooker instructions, which are not unique to Inspire. However, the Tsarnaev’s online activity and social media profiles indicate some fascination with militancy and Islam that are consistent with other messages of Inspire.

Numerous international and domestic extremists motivated by radical interpretations of Islam have been influenced by the magazine and, in some cases, reportedly utilized the bomb making instructions in their attempts to carry out attacks. In the United States, for example:

  • In November 2012, Raees Qazi was arrested along with his brother, Sheheryar, for allegedly plotting a bomb attack against unspecified targets in New York City.  Raees reportedly admitted having read Inspire magazine, and a search of his home turned up bomb-making components consistent with instructions that can be found in an issue of Inspire he had read.
  • In November 2011, Jose Pimentel was arrested and charged with state-level terrorism offenses in New York after he allegedly came close to completing three bombs based on an Inspire design. Pimentel’s website, “True Islam,” also reposted PDF copies of Inspire magazine. Pimentel apparently had planned to attack returning U.S. military personnel, post office and police targets. He is still awaiting trial.
  • In July 2011, Naser Jason Abdo was arrested at a motel in Killeen, Texas, where authorities claimed that he was plotting to attack a restaurant frequented by military personnel based at Fort Hood.  Bomb making components were recovered from the motel room. The article “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” from the first issue of Inspire magazine was reportedly also found in his room. Abdo has since been sentenced to life-in-prison for his attempted attack.
  • Adel Daoud, who was arrested in September 2012 and charged with plotting to bomb a Chicago-area bar, sent his friends copies of the magazine in order to “brainwash them,” and called Inspire “the best magazine I have read.”

Inspire’s solicitation for reader contributions have also played a role in the radicalization process of other would be bombers in the U.S.

  • Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who was convicted of attempting to bomb the 2010 Christmas Tree Lighting in Portland, Oregon, allegedly wrote and submitted an article to Inspire, although it was not published.
  • Quazi Nafis, who pleaded guilty to attempting to bomb the New York Federal Reserve Building in October 2012, also wrote an article that he supposedly planned to submit to Inspire after his attack in which he described his desire to “destroy America.”

Most recently, in November 2012, four men from Southern California were arrested and charged with planning to travel abroad to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban and Al Qaeda. According to the criminal complaint, the investigation began in January 2012 when one of the men was searched as he crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and was found to have a copy of Inspire in his possession.

Samir Khan, a 24-year-old American known for distributing terrorist propaganda material online, was the principal author of Inspire before he was killed by a U.S. drone strike on September 30, 2011.