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May 16, 2012 0

AQAP Releases Advice for Western Recruits

A recently released English-language book­let that both describes life in Yemen as an Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP) fighter and encour­ages west­ern­ers to carry out attacks inside their home coun­tries is the lat­est in a series of AQAP pub­li­ca­tions demon­strat­ing its com­mit­ment to reach­ing west­ern audi­ences with its vio­lent message.

The pub­li­ca­tion, “Expec­ta­tions Full,” was pur­port­edly writ­ten by Samir Khan, the Amer­i­can ter­ror pro­pa­gan­dist who was killed in a Sep­tem­ber 2011 drone strike in Yemen. The book­let encour­ages “broth­ers in the West to wage jihad inside their coun­tries” because the effect is “much greater, it always embar­rasses the enemy, and these type [sic] of indi­vid­ual decision-making attacks are nearly impos­si­ble for them to contain.”

The phrase “indi­vid­ual decision-making attacks” is an appar­ent ref­er­ence to the “Lone Wolf” phe­nom­e­non, where indi­vid­u­als self-radicalize, often online, with­out any face-to-face inter­ac­tions with estab­lished ter­ror­ist groups.

Despite advo­cat­ing for indi­vid­u­als to carry out attacks in the West, the book­let is mostly devoted to giv­ing “fel­low Mus­lims a sense of the live [sic] of a mujahid,” includ­ing issues such as clean­li­ness, liv­ing on base, secrecy, injuries, train­ing and fam­ily life.

“Now that you know what to expect [abroad],” the book­let con­cludes, “you can com­pare that with doing jihad in the west, weigh the pros and cons, and make your decision.”

Over the last sev­eral years, English-language ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda has given con­flict­ing mes­sages about where it is most prefer­able to carry out attacks. AQAP’s English-language ter­ror­ist mag­a­zine, Inspire, believed to be pro­duced by Khan until his death, repeat­edly encour­aged its read­ers to carry out attacks wher­ever they reside. Al Qaeda spokesper­son Adam Gadahn sim­i­larly encour­aged Amer­i­cans to attack within the U.S. in a June 2011 mes­sage. At the same time, Omar Ham­mami, an Amer­i­can spokesper­son for Al Shabaab, has called on his lis­ten­ers to come “to the lands of jihad as soon as possible.”

Although AQAP claims that Khan is the author of “Expec­ta­tions Full,” the doc­u­ment itself bears no indi­ca­tions or hall­marks of his writ­ing. In fact, in one of the sec­tions the author dis­cusses liv­ing on bases with­out access to any elec­tron­ics, which would be ironic for some­one who is best known for cre­at­ing online pro­pa­ganda. AQAP may be try­ing to lever­age Khan’s rep­u­ta­tion as an Amer­i­can who made “it to the front lines of jihad” in an effort to reach out to West­ern audi­ences and spread its call to fight, prefer­ably while stay­ing at home.

The release of the pub­li­ca­tion closely fol­lows the release of two new issues of the ter­ror­ist mag­a­zine Inspire and a trib­ute to Osama bin Laden, also in Eng­lish, ear­lier this month. The rapid suc­ces­sion of English-language pro­pa­ganda comes after a lull of sev­eral months and is an indi­ca­tion of renewed attempts by AQAP to reach and recruit a West­ern audience.

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February 16, 2012 0

Al Shabaab Formally Joins Al Qaeda against “Crusader Zionist Campaign”

Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab, a ter­ror­ist group seek­ing to estab­lish an Islamic state in Soma­lia, have issued a joint com­mu­nique announc­ing the for­mal merger of their groups.

While Al Shabaab had pre­vi­ously announced its align­ment with Al Qaeda in 2010, and its lead­ers had repeat­edly sworn alle­giance to Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, it is the first time Zawahiri has com­mented on the “join­ing of the Mujahideen Al Shabaab Move­ment in Soma­lia to Al Qaeda in sup­port of the gath­er­ing jihad against the Cru­sader Zion­ist campaign.”
Al Shabaab’s Kenyan affil­i­ate, the Mus­lim Youth Cen­ter, which has claimed respon­si­bil­ity for sev­eral grenade attacks in Kenya, also announced on its blog that it had joined Al Qaeda to form the core of a newly recon­sti­tuted Al Qaeda in East Africa.
Approx­i­mately 40 Amer­i­cans have trav­eled to Soma­lia to fight with Al Shabaab since 2007, includ­ing at least three Amer­i­can sui­cide bombers. Omar Ham­mami, an Amer­i­can cit­i­zen from Alabama, has become a key online pro­pa­gan­dist for the group.

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