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July 15, 2016 0

Terrorist Propaganda Encourages Attacks With Common Items

The use of a vehi­cle to kill civil­ians in yesterday’s appar­ent ter­ror attack in Nice, France, serves as a reminder of how ter­ror­ist groups and their sup­port­ers encour­age their adher­ents to carry out attacks with com­mon resources.

In addi­tion to run-over style attacks, ter­ror­ists have encour­aged the use of com­mon items such as house­hold prod­ucts to make bombs, as well as var­i­ous other tac­tics in their online mag­a­zines, speeches and other propaganda.

Image encouraging car attacks from AQAP Inspire Mujahid Pocketbook propaganda

Image encour­ag­ing car attacks from AQAP Inspire Mujahid Pock­et­book propaganda

The fol­low­ing list pro­vides a sam­pling of some of the tac­tics pro­moted by for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions in the last sev­eral years. Notably, a num­ber of the sug­ges­tions are repeated by dif­fer­ent groups, and the use of vehi­cles in attacks is a com­mon theme.


  • The 14th issue of Dabiq, ISIS’s English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine, called on sup­port­ers to assas­si­nate promi­nent Mus­lim lead­ers in the U.S. and U.K. for not sup­port­ing ISIS, “with the resources available…(knives, guns, explo­sives, etc.).”
  • In a Jan­u­ary 2015 speech, al Adnani sim­i­larly called for attacks, “whether with an explo­sive device, a bul­let, a knife, a car, a rock or even a boot or a fist.”
  • An ISIS video released in Decem­ber 2014 stated, “There are weapons and cars avail­able and tar­gets ready to be hit. Even poi­son is avail­able, so poi­son the water and food of at least one of the ene­mies of Allah. Kill them and spit in their faces and run over them with your cars.”
  • In a Sep­tem­ber 2014 speech that was widely trans­lated and shared over social media, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohamed al Adnani called for ISIS sup­port­ers to com­mit lone wolf attacks against civil­ians, and pro­vided a num­ber of sug­ges­tions for doing so, includ­ing by run­ning them over. He stated: “If you are not able to find an IED or a bul­let, then sin­gle out the dis­be­liev­ing Amer­i­can, French­man, or any of his allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaugh­ter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poi­son him…. If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or busi­ness. Or destroy his crops.”

Al Qaeda:

  • Cover of the first issue of Inspire, AQAP's English-language magazine

    The first issue of Inspire pro­vided direc­tions to “make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.”

    Fol­low­ing the ter­ror attack in Orlando, a June 2016 pub­li­ca­tion released by Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) pro­vided advice for mak­ing copy­cat attacks more lethal and max­i­miz­ing their pro­pa­ganda value.

  • In May 2016, the 15th issue of Inspire mag­a­zine, AQAP’s English-language pro­pa­ganda magazine’s pro­vided sug­ges­tions for mak­ing bombs using read­ily avail­able items to con­duct the assas­si­na­tions, includ­ing pack­age bombs, small bombs under cars, and bombs that can be attached to a doorframe.
  • In March 2014, the 12th issue of Inspire mag­a­zine pro­vides instruc­tions for assem­bling car bombs out of “eas­ily avail­able” materials.
  • In 2013, Inspire mag­a­zine, AQAP’s English-language pro­pa­ganda mag­a­zine, issued a com­pan­ion pub­li­ca­tion titled the “Mujahid Pock­et­book,” which aggre­gated var­i­ous attack sug­ges­tions pro­moted in Inspire and pro­vided some addi­tional sug­ges­tions as well. Plot ideas included torch­ing parked vehi­cles, caus­ing road acci­dents, start­ing for­est fires, using vehi­cles to run over civil­ians, and build­ing bombs.
  • In Octo­ber 2010, sec­ond issue of Inspire mag­a­zine sug­gested using a mod­i­fied vehi­cle to run over civil­ians and pro­vided instruc­tions on build­ing an explo­sive device.
  • The first issue of Inspire mag­a­zine, released in July 2010, pro­vided instruc­tions for build­ing a pres­sure cooker bomb, which can be made out of com­mon house­hold items.

Other ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and their sup­port­ers have been sim­i­larly active in pro­mot­ing var­i­ous spe­cific attack sug­ges­tions. This has been par­tic­u­larly clear among Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and their sup­port­ers, who have pro­moted sug­ges­tions that par­al­lel those advo­cated by Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Ter­ror­ist sup­port­ers some­times pro­mote their own ideas for non­tra­di­tional attacks online as well. In a recent exam­ple, a dis­cus­sion on a pro-ISIS forum that ran between June and July 2016 included a num­ber of ter­ror attack sug­ges­tions from forum users, some of which had been sug­gested by offi­cial ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda as well. Among them were set­ting for­est fires and call­ing in false reports of bombs to dis­rupt the oper­a­tions of emer­gency services

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July 15, 2016 0

ADL’s Issues for the Platform Committees


Over the next two weeks, Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats con­vene their con­ven­tions – the equiv­a­lent of the MLB All-Star Game for polit­i­cal junkies. While the con­ven­tions are often a spec­ta­cle of polit­i­cal the­ater, this year it feels like the drama that has taken cen­ter stage is over­shad­ow­ing impor­tant pol­icy issues.

This hasn’t hap­pened in a vac­uum.  For years, America’s polit­i­cal debate has been slid­ing toward greater polar­iza­tion and acri­mony, leav­ing lit­tle space for the give-and-take that is vital to the pub­lic pol­icy con­ver­sa­tion and a healthy demo­c­ra­tic process. Even where Democ­rats and Repub­li­cans can find com­mon ground, as they do on issues like crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, there seems to be lit­tle incen­tive for either party to compromise.

These diver­sions would be unhelp­ful in any elec­tion year.  But there are seri­ous issues fac­ing Amer­i­cans today, issues that require seri­ous debate. Amer­i­cans across the polit­i­cal spec­trum are reel­ing from the shoot­ing death of African-Americans Alton Ster­ling and Phi­lando Castile and the mass mur­der of police offi­cers in Dal­las. And ter­ror­ist mas­sacres tar­get­ing a gay night club in Orlando and gov­ern­ment work­ers in San Bernardino, CA have brought home the impact of hatred and the threat posed by vio­lent Islamist groups like ISIS. What­ever one’s views about how to address this vio­lence and the range of inter­twined issues it raises, Amer­i­cans deserve a prob­ing and con­struc­tive national debate rather than a con­test to see who can score the most polit­i­cal points.

In for­mal sub­mis­sions to the Plat­form Com­mit­tees of both par­ties, ADL has urged that Repub­li­cans and Democ­rats address a range of impor­tant issues in an urgent way. Inter­na­tion­ally, the U.S. must con­tinue to play a lead­er­ship role in the fight against ter­ror­ism; in ensur­ing that Israel remains strong and secure; in pro­mot­ing peace and respect for human rights across the Mid­dle East and else­where around the globe; and in speak­ing out against a dis­turb­ing rise in anti-Semitism.  Domes­ti­cally, our sub­mis­sion also addresses a vari­ety of issues, for exam­ple assert­ing the urgent need for progress on vot­ing rights, crim­i­nal jus­tice reform, expanded legal pro­tec­tion for the LGBT com­mu­nity, refugee rights, and gun vio­lence prevention.

ADL has had a long­stand­ing prac­tice of sub­mit­ting its pol­icy agenda to both par­ties, and has called on cam­paigns to reject char­ac­ter attacks and the use of big­otry in numer­ous cam­paign sea­sons.  This year, ADL is host­ing events at both con­ven­tions that focus on find­ing space for sub­stan­tive debate and col­lab­o­ra­tion toward progress in order to get down to the seri­ous busi­ness of address­ing the nation’s problems.

Politi­cians and can­di­dates will win or lose, come and go—but the fall­out will linger unless we can ele­vate the qual­ity of the debate mov­ing for­ward.  It is incum­bent upon all of us to raise our voices, to reject the use of big­otry or char­ac­ter attacks by any can­di­date, and to pro­mote a pub­lic debate based on facts, evi­dence and civil discourse.

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July 14, 2016 2

Speaking Truth, Facing Bias and Promoting Empathy

Magnetic-poetry-(modified-for-policing-and-bias)It has been a rough sum­mer as the topic of guns, vio­lence, police and bias scream across the news head­lines and our smart phones.

Still reel­ing from the June 12 mas­sacre of 49 peo­ple at a gay night­club in Orlando, a few short weeks later we watched on video the back-to-back shoot­ing deaths by police of Alton Ster­ling in Baton Rouge, LA and Phi­lando Castile in Fal­con Heights, MN.  Just a day later, as cities across the coun­try engaged in protests over these deaths, we wit­nessed the hor­ri­fy­ing sniper attack of white police offi­cers Brent Thomp­son, Patrick Zamar­ripa, Michael Krol, Michael Smith and Loren Ahrens, and the wound­ing of seven others.

For most of the coun­try, school is out but that doesn’t stop par­ents and fam­i­lies from want­ing to answer ques­tions and find mean­ing in these deaths while they dis­cuss the tragedies with their chil­dren. Nor does it pre­vent teach­ers from reflect­ing on how they will address it with stu­dents when school resumes.

What can we learn from these events and what can we teach chil­dren about them?

The words of Dal­las County Judge Clay Jenk­ins, in the wake of the Dal­las shoot­ing, are insight­ful and instructive:

“We need this to mean some­thing to this com­mu­nity and this coun­try. It’s a sense­less act of hate but if it can mean that it’s an oppor­tu­nity to open that dia­logue so that white peo­ple think about what a Black fam­ily goes through as they teach their chil­dren a dif­fer­ent set of rules than a white fam­ily will teach their chil­dren. So that non first respon­der fam­i­lies think about what a first respon­der fam­ily goes through won­der­ing if their loved one is going to come home.”

What this means is not only do we all have to try harder to lis­ten to and hear the per­spec­tive of one another–perspectives that may be dif­fi­cult and uncom­fort­able to take in—we also need to engage in a dia­logue where we can con­cur­rently speak hard truths and lis­ten with com­pas­sion and empa­thy. It is also crit­i­cal that we lis­ten to and accept the strong feel­ings peo­ple may have about these and other incidents—whether it is anger, fear, shame, sad­ness and dis­ap­point­ment, but also the tri­umphant feel­ings of mak­ing a difference.

As par­ents, fam­ily mem­bers and teach­ers who are respon­si­ble for edu­cat­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of cit­i­zens and lead­ers, how can we trans­late the hard truths of racism, vio­lence, inequity and a need for empa­thy into how we talk to young peo­ple about these issues?

First, it is crit­i­cal that we pro­mote under­stand­ing of iden­tity, cul­ture, dif­fer­ences and develop skills in how to respect those dif­fer­ences. These are con­cepts and skills that need to be taught in a method­i­cal way, espe­cially if there isn’t racial diver­sity in the schools and com­mu­ni­ties in which kids live.  But even if there is diver­sity, these skills and con­cepts have to be taught, nur­tured and mod­eled on a reg­u­lar basis.

Sec­ond, from an early age, we need to talk with chil­dren about prej­u­dice and bias.  As they get older, we can teach young peo­ple about dis­crim­i­na­tion, implicit bias, injus­tice and the ways in which peo­ple have over­come oppres­sion. We need to also talk with them about the inter­sec­tion of racism, vio­lence, inequity and the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. At a time where 69% of Amer­i­cans per­ceive race rela­tions as “mostly bad,” open and hon­est dia­logue across dif­fer­ences must be a pri­or­ity, both for young peo­ple and adults.

Finally, as Judge Jenk­ins asserted, we need to “respect one another, show com­pas­sion for one another and see things through each other’s per­spec­tive.” Racism exists and espe­cially for Black and Latino men, bias can have dan­ger­ous and even deadly con­se­quences when inter­act­ing with the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem. Police offi­cers have a demand­ing job that pro­vides an oppor­tu­nity to pos­i­tively impact com­mu­ni­ties but also requires them to face dan­ger on a reg­u­lar basis. Pro­mot­ing empa­thy means help­ing stu­dents under­stand dif­fer­ent per­spec­tives and the lens with which oth­ers see the world.

When we do this, we help young peo­ple tap into their human­ity, build their empa­thy skills and feel more con­nected to one another other.



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