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December 24, 2014

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

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 24, 2014

ISIS Spokesman Blames Jews For Conflict & Calls For Lone-Wolf Attacks

A speech issued by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)’s primary spokesman Abu Mohammed al-Adnani on Sunday calls for attacks against western civilians and soldiers worldwide and blames Jews for the international opposition the terrorist group is facing.isis-obama-jews

Highlighting the role that anti-Semitism continues to play in terrorist propaganda and ideology, in his speech Adnani suggests that Jews are the only reason ISIS is being confronted by U.S. military: “The jews! (sic) The jews! Save the jews! This is the reason they [the U.S.] came.” Adnani also calls President Obama a “mule of the Jews,” a statement that was further popularized by ISIS supporters on Twitter using the hashtag #Obamamulejews.

Adnani similarly claims that Arab countries including Egypt and Syria exist as “guard dogs of the jews (sic)” ensuring Israel’s security against their best interests.

Addressing ISIS supporters worldwide, Adnani calls for lone wolf attacks against civilians: “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…”

He goes on to provide examples of how this may be done:

“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.”

Some of these suggestions, including the use of cars for attacks, have previously been featured in Inspire Magazine, an English-language terrorist propaganda magazine produced by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

This call for attacks has already been answered. On Monday, an Algeria-based extremist group aligned with ISIS called Jund al-Khilafah kidnapped a French national, releasing a video warning that France has 24 hours to stop its air attacks or he will be murdered. A portion of the speech was quoted in the video.

The speech was shared via Twitter in three languages: English, French and Hebrew. The English and French languages were likely chosen because the U.S. and France have been the two western countries to undertake airstrikes against ISIS. The Hebrew may reflect ISIS’s views, reinforced by the speech, that Jews and Israel are also primary enemies of the group. It also reinforces allegations in the speech that the U.S. and France are acting on behalf of Jews and Israel. This may be the first ISIS speech that was initially released in Hebrew.

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