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December 24, 2014 1

13th Issue of AQAP Inspire Calls for Attacks Against U.S. Airliners

AQAP-Inspire-13-magazine-cover

Inspire 13 cover image

Update: 12/24/2013 — Fol­low­ing noti­fi­ca­tion by the ADL, YouTube has removed the video pro­mot­ing Inspire 13 from its site.

The 13th issue of Inspire, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zine, released on Decem­ber 24, lays out a strat­egy for defeat­ing the U.S. by attack­ing Amer­i­can mil­i­tary tech­nol­ogy, man­power, media and econ­omy, and encour­ages lone wolf attacks against com­mer­cial air­planes and finan­cial figures.

The cen­tral fea­ture of the mag­a­zine, enti­tled “The Hid­den Bomb” presents step-by-step, illus­trated instruc­tions for con­struct­ing a home-made eas­ily portable bomb inside 17cm of a plas­tic water bot­tle case.  These instruc­tions fol­low pre­vi­ous issues of Inspire that included instruc­tions for pres­sure cooker bombs and car bombs, as well as sug­ges­tions for other types of attacks such as run­ning civil­ians over with cars.

This issue of Inspire sug­gests that the bombs be used against U.S. com­mer­cial air­lin­ers – specif­i­cally Amer­i­can Air­lines, Delta, United or Con­ti­nen­tal, and ide­ally over U.S. soil. It also pro­vides advice as to the best loca­tion on the plane and alti­tude at which to det­o­nate the device.

If an attack on a U.S. air­liner is not fea­si­ble, the mag­a­zine sug­gests attack­ing British com­pa­nies British Air­ways or Easy Jet, or French com­pa­nies Air­France or Air­France KL. A dif­fer­ent arti­cle fur­ther clar­i­fies the pri­or­i­ties of attack, stat­ing that, “the first pri­or­ity and the main focus should be on Amer­ica, then the United King­dom, then France…. This goes on with the NATO coun­tries as per the known order.”

The guide claims that this bomb can be hid­den in a part of the body not included in air­port pat-downs and is unde­tectable by dogs, odor-detecting machines, or metal detec­tors. The arti­cle states that the bomb is detectable by mil­lime­ter wave scan­ners, but the mag­a­zine advises that “in most cases they are not used in local airports.”

Inspire 13 also encour­ages assas­si­na­tions of Amer­i­can finan­cial lead­ers listed as “eco­nomic per­son­al­i­ties” such as Ben Bernanke or “wealthy entre­pre­neurs” such as Bill Gates. It advises that if those per­son­al­i­ties remove their money from U.S. banks, stop invest­ing in the U.S., and declare that they dis­agree with Amer­i­can poli­cies, they will not be targeted.

The mag­a­zine also includes sev­eral sec­tions high­light­ing the actions of Al Qaeda mem­bers and indi­vid­u­als that it claims under­took vio­lent actions on behalf of the extrem­ist cause. These include Alton Nolan of Okla­homa, Michael Zehaf Bebeau of Que­bec, Mar­tin Rouleau-Couture of Ottowa, Zale Thomp­son of New York and Man Haron Monis of Aus­tralia – the major­ity of whom seem to have under­taken attacks through some com­bi­na­tion of per­sonal vio­lent ten­den­cies and encour­age­ment from ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda  but have not been asso­ci­ated with ter­ror­ist movements.

Image from the magazine advocating lone wolf attacks

Image from the mag­a­zine advo­cat­ing lone wolf attacks

“The Lions of Allah who are all over the globe – some call them lone wolves – should know that they are the West’s worst night­mare,” states one article.

In some sec­tions, it attempts to exploit con­tro­ver­sial issues in the U.S. as ratio­nales for join­ing ter­ror­ist move­ments. For exam­ple, a short quote states, “If I am an Afro-American liv­ing in Fer­gu­son – I’d rather be labeled a ter­ror­ist.” One arti­cle pre­sented as an inter­view with an AQAP mem­ber states U.S. tor­ture of Mus­lim pris­on­ers as a rea­son to attack the U.S.

The major­ity of jus­ti­fi­ca­tions pre­sented for attack­ing the U.S., how­ever, have been uti­lized by Al Qaeda and its affil­i­ates since the group’s found­ing: Attacks should be under­taken because of alleged Amer­i­can sup­port for cur­rent regimes in Mus­lim coun­tries;; sup­port for the Russ­ian and Indian gov­ern­ments in their fights against ter­ror­ism; and hav­ing “sur­ren­dered to the Jews” in sup­port­ing the State of Israel.

Like other issues of Inspire, it also attempts to draw read­ers in by ask­ing provoca­tive ques­tions and mak­ing the attack sound sim­ple. “It’s not nec­es­sary to do what Mohammed Atta (of the 9/11 attack) did,” notes a poem in the mag­a­zine, “it’s enough to do what Nidal Hasan (of the Fort Hood shoot­ing) did.”

Other sec­tions of the mag­a­zine include an essay com­mem­o­rat­ing Tamer­lan Tsar­naev of the Boston Marathon Bomb­ing, quotes about Inspire by Amer­i­can aca­d­e­mics and gov­ern­ment offi­cials, and a “Mes­sage for the Amer­i­can Peo­ple Regard­ing the Killing of Luke Somers,” the Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist taken hostage by AQAP and killed dur­ing a res­cue mis­sion ear­lier this month.

This edi­tion of Inspire was released together with a pro­mo­tional video that fea­tured images from the mag­a­zine to the back­drop of a song in Eng­lish that included the lyrics, “The bat­tle for the hearts and minds will con­tinue till the kuf­far (apos­tates or dis­be­liev­ers) in vice,” “Inspir­ing the believ­ers to jihad has become the newest fad,” and, “Amer­ica you are being watched…the mujahideen (reli­gious fight­ers) are com­ing for you.”

Inspire is per­haps the most noto­ri­ous Al Qaeda pro­pa­ganda vehi­cle. It has played a role in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of mul­ti­ple domes­tic extrem­ists, includ­ing the Tsar­naev broth­ers (of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing), Jose Pimentel (attempted bomb­ing in NYC) and Abdel Daoud (attempted bomb­ing in Chicago).

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October 27, 2014 1

New Spate of Lone Wolf Attacks Highlights Terrorist Propaganda

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

A recent series of attacks in the U.S. and Canada have renewed national con­ver­sa­tion about the dan­ger of lone wolf ter­ror­ism: Attacks under­taken by indi­vid­u­als act­ing entirely on their own, with­out belong­ing to an orga­nized extrem­ist group, ter­ror­ist group or cell.

When extrem­ists plan and exe­cute attacks alone, as indi­vid­u­als, there are far fewer oppor­tu­ni­ties for law enforce­ment to detect the attacks in advance and they are much more dif­fi­cult to pre­vent. Con­se­quently, “lone wolf” actions tend to be more deadly.

There is increas­ing spec­u­la­tion that the rise of online ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other for­eign ter­ror­ist groups – and its increas­ing sophis­ti­ca­tion – may con­tribute to such attacks.

ISIS, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP), and other groups have called on Amer­i­cans, Cana­di­ans and other west­ern­ers to self-radicalize and com­mit lone wolf attacks against their home countries.

In Sep­tem­ber, a speech released by ISIS told sup­port­ers, “If you can kill a dis­be­liev­ing Amer­i­can or Euro­pean – espe­cially the…French – or an Aus­tralian, or a Canadian…kill him in any man­ner or way how­ever it may be. Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s ver­dict. Kill the dis­be­liever whether he is civil­ian or mil­i­tary…” One of the sug­gested meth­ods of attack was to “run him [the West­erner] over with your car.”

In August, AQAP issued an English-language mag­a­zine, which stated that the U.S. “needs sev­eral more attacks inside and out­side its ter­ri­to­ries. This could be done by a Mujahid group or a lone Mujahid,” and pro­vided updated instruc­tions for build­ing pres­sure cooker bombs and car bombs. Such sen­ti­ments have been a fea­ture of AQAP’s English-language pro­pa­ganda for years.

More­over, expo­sure to vio­lent images com­bined with the incite­ment of ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda may pro­vide the nec­es­sary ratio­nale to lead indi­vid­u­als with vio­lent ten­den­cies – and some­times unsta­ble behav­ior – over the tip­ping point towards vio­lence. And in pro­vid­ing that ratio­nale, ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda may also direct the vio­lence, lead­ing to a higher like­li­hood of attacks against law enforce­ment, author­ity fig­ures, or other sym­bolic targets.

Zale Thompson’s alleged attack against NY police offi­cers and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau’s alleged attack on the Cana­dian Par­lia­ment pro­vide exam­ples of this new type of lone wolf: Indi­vid­u­als with some degree of upset and insta­bil­ity who buy into the frame­work of ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda to the extent that they under­take acts of violence.

Thomp­son, for exam­ple, was rumored to be depressed and suf­fer­ing from drug abuse. He was angry about what he per­ceived as oppres­sion of blacks in the U.S. In his embrace of rad­i­cal Islam, he read and wrote about “holy war” and behead­ings, and googled the phrase “jihad against police,” accord­ing to law enforce­ment sources. He also looked up infor­ma­tion on the two Cana­dian attacks before allegedly attempt­ing to kill the police officers.

Less is known about Mar­tin Rouleau-Couture, the man who allegedly ran over two sol­diers in Canada last week, but he, too, appar­ently engaged with extrem­ist pro­pa­ganda online and praised ISIS on his Face­book page.

Lone wolves aren’t the only ones who respond to online incite­ment. A major­ity of the Amer­i­can cit­i­zens who attempt to join for­eign ter­ror­ist groups abroad or to work on their behalf at home have been influ­enced by it to some extent – appar­ently includ­ing the three teenage girls from Den­ver who allegedly attempted to join ISIS last week.

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September 22, 2014 0

ISIS-Related Arrest In Rochester Underscores Online Radicalization

mufid-elfgeeh-isis-rochester

Mufid Elfgeeh

The online activ­ity of Mufid Elfgeeh, whose arrest for attempt­ing to pro­vide mate­r­ial sup­port for ter­ror, attempt­ing to kill U.S. sol­diers, and pos­ses­sion of firearms and silencers was made pub­lic this week by the U.S. Depart­ment of Jus­tice, under­scores the cen­tral­ity of the Inter­net in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion and recruit­ment process.

Elfgeeh uti­lized mul­ti­ple online plat­forms includ­ing Twit­ter, Face­book, YouTube and the android appli­ca­tion What­sApp to try to raise money for for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and to recruit three other indi­vid­u­als to join for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions. His online activ­ity also inspired him to devise a plot to kill Shi’a Mus­lims and for­mer Amer­i­can ser­vice­men at home.

Social media enabled Elfgeeh to not only learn about the activ­i­ties of for­eign ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions through videos, tweets and other online pro­pa­ganda, but to also con­nect with appar­ent sup­port­ers of those orga­ni­za­tions, in par­tic­u­lar the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Accord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Elfgeeh sought dona­tions for ter­ror­ists in Syria through Twit­ter. Among his alleged tweets were requests that peo­ple donate a third of their salary or at least “#Five_thousand_dollars_from_every_household” to sup­port mil­i­tants in Syria. He also tweeted and retweeted state­ments of sup­port for var­i­ous ter­ror groups includ­ing, “al-Qa’ida said it loud and clear: we are fight­ing the Amer­i­can inva­sion and their hege­mony over the earth and the people.”

On Face­book, Elfgeeh was a mem­ber of at least two Arabic-language Face­book groups in which group mem­bers reg­u­larly post and share al Qaeda and ISIS pro­pa­ganda. His own Face­book pho­tos included sev­eral images from Al Bat­tar media, an offi­cial ISIS pro­pa­ganda wing.

Elfgeeh also allegedly used Face­book to com­mu­ni­cate with indi­vid­u­als he believed were mem­bers of ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions and with the indi­vid­u­als he was recruit­ing about plans to travel abroad to join ter­ror­ist orga­ni­za­tions.

In his recruit­ing, he ini­tially sug­gested Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) and Al Shabaab as pos­si­ble des­ti­na­tions, and later focused on ISIS. Notably, AQAP, Al Shabaab and ISIS are all ter­ror­ist groups that have become highly adept at dis­trib­ut­ing exten­sive English-language pro­pa­ganda.

On April 22 2014, he allegedly posted a mes­sage on Face­book attempt­ing to gain con­nec­tions in ISIS, stat­ing, “Who­ever knows a brother from ISIS who is able to com­mu­ni­cate well in Eng­lish, can com­mu­ni­cate with me through the pri­vate, due to the impor­tance.” He also com­mu­ni­cated directly on Face­book with an indi­vid­ual he was recruit­ing to join ISIS (the indi­vid­ual was in fact an informant).

Elfgeeh was allegedly devel­op­ing a plot to com­mit mul­ti­ple mur­ders in the U.S. as well, appar­ently inspired by acts of ter­ror­ism around the world includ­ing Al Shabaab’s attack of the West­gate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya and, in par­tic­u­lar, by Mohammed Merah’s shoot­ings in France.

His inspi­ra­tion for this plot appar­ently came from watch­ing videos on YouTube. He allegedly explained that he had learned about Merah’s actions because, “[i]t’s in YouTube.” He also allegedly had watched a video that pro­vided jus­ti­fi­ca­tion and instruc­tions for his plot: The video, he stated, “tell[s] you what to do …it’s YouTube…they call them here…’individual wolf’ (an appar­ent ref­er­ence to lone wolf attacks).”

Elfgeeh is a 30-year-old nat­u­ral­ized Amer­i­can cit­i­zen. Orig­i­nally from Yemen, he resided in Rochester, NY prior to his arrest where he owned and oper­ated a store called Halal Mojo and Food­mart. He was arrested on May 31, 2014 and pleaded not guilty on Sep­tem­ber 18.

Elfgeeh is the sec­ond Amer­i­can arrested in 2014 for recruit­ing oth­ers to join for­eign ter­ror orga­ni­za­tions, fol­low­ing Rahatul Ashikim Khan of Round Rock, Texas, who was arrested in June.

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