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March 4, 2013

New Inspire Magazine Hits Digital Newsstands

The tenth issue of Inspire magazine, released by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula last Thursday, offers its readers an array of ideas and advice for supporting the global jihadist movement.

In the issue, lone wolf attacks are specifically encouraged: “Praises [to] the Knights of Lone Jihad…You are Lethal! You are Devastating!” Would-be lone wolves are advised to engage in attacks on the road by causing traffic accidents and torching parked vehicles, as well as assassinating political leaders and former political leaders who may be less protected (American, British and French former political operatives and diplomats are mentioned by name).

Following Thursday’s release of Inspire, AQAP also released a compilation of the advice it has published for carrying out attacks as the “Lone Mujahid Pocketbook.”

Inspire also contains an interview with the American spokesman for Al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn. If the interview proves to be authentic, it is the first English-language message from Gadahn since a June 2011 video in which he called on American Muslims to launch lone wolf attacks on U.S. soil.  He has, however, more recently appeared in Arabic-language videos discussing the Arab Spring and Al Qaeda’s role in it.

Gadahn, who was a pioneer in the field of so-called “jihadi media,” reiterates its purported importance in the interview, calling on his fellow propagandists to “make every effort to reach out to Muslims both through new media like Facebook and Twitter as well as the traditional broadcast and print media.” 

In an apparent call for violence, Gadahn instructs “mujahideen around the world” to focus their efforts on “direct engagement at home and abroad with America and its NATO partners, particularly France and Britain.” 

Another article from the magazine, called “We Are All Usama,” which focuses on the need for Muslim unity in the face of insults by the West, was used by jihadist hackers to replace several university websites on Friday and over the weekend. 

The magazine continues to focus on the September 2011 deaths of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric who became a leading ideologue and commander of AQAP; and Samir Khan, who was believed to be responsible for producing the first issues of Inspire. Al-Awlaki and Khan, as well as a third individual named Abu Yazeed al-Qatari, are featured in a “letter to the editor” that praises the men for their commitment to jihad.

This issue is the first major media effort by AQAP in English since May 2012, when it released the last two issues of Inspire, a recruiting pamphlet, and a collection of Osama bin Laden statements

Although Inspire continues to solicit contributions from its readers, digital copies of the magazine appear to be secured which doesn’t allow for the magazine to be printed. This may be an effort to prevent its use as evidence in terrorism cases; the magazine has often been found in the possession of terrorism suspects as both a source of radicalizing material and for its easy-to-follow instructions for carrying out attacks. 

In a further move to raise the level of security, AQAP also issued a statement on jihadist forums over the weekend indicating that it would no longer communicate with individual supporters planning attacks via email and urged those already in contact to stop immediately.

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December 12, 2012

Shabaab Spokesman’s “Close Friend” Arrested

Two American citizens residing in Alabama were arrested yesterday in Georgia on suspicion of terrorism-related activity.

Randy “Rasheed” Wilson was arrested in Atlanta attempting to board a flight to Morocco. Wilson allegedly claimed to be a close friend of Omar Hammami, the Alabama native who became the public face of Al Shabaab, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Somali terrorist organization. His co-conspirator, Mohammad Abukhdair, was arrested at a bus station en route to Canada from where he reportedly planned to join Wilson.  Both were charged with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists in an Alabama federal court on Monday.

According to court documents, Wilson and Abukhdair expressed their admiration for radical American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Osama bin Laden, as well as repeating their commitment to carry out violent jihad, to an undercover FBI employee.  They even turned over a cache of jihadist propaganda, including Awlaki lectures, to the undercover employee for destruction. Wilson, who is 25, apparently believed that “one way or another everyone’s gonna have to fight… there’s no deed better than jihad,” according to the transcripts of recorded conversations submitted to the court.

Wilson had previously reportedly conspired with another mutual friend of Hammami’s (who later became a confidential informant) to travel to Somalia to join Al Shabaab. Abukhdair had been detained by Egyptian authorities on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activity and was deported back to the United States.  He apparently admitted to the undercover FBI employee that he had jihadist material on his laptop at the time and believed that “Allah protected him” because Egyptian intelligence had not found it.

The two men, who met online in 2010, supposedly discussed several possible destinations, including traveling to Somalia via Sudan, where they reportedly expected special treatment because of Wilson’s relationship with Hammami. Abukhdair alternatively proposed that they carry out attacks in the United States because he feared he would not be allowed to travel internationally after being turned away from a flight to Jordan earlier this year.  According to the charges, Abukhdair allegedly suggested engaging in hostage-taking operations in the U.S. and demanding the release of Muslim terrorists being held in American prisons in exchange.

The court documents assert that Wilson and Abukhdair made definite travel arrangements to go to Mauritania via Morocco in October. The two also reportedly discussed traveling to Mali from Mauritania where Islamic militants are active in the north of the country.

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May 11, 2012

AQAP Bin Laden Tribute Focuses on Israel

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s media arm released an English-language booklet in tribute to Osama Bin Laden today titled “In Remembrance of Usama.” The material, which consists of a collection of quotes from the former Al Qaeda leader, largely focuses on Jews and Israel and how they, along with America, are at war with Islam.

“The Crusaders and the Jews joined together and invaded the home of Islam,” reads one of the Bin Laden quotes. “’Greater Israel’ which includes inside its borders large parts of Iraq, Egypt, a pass through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, the entire Palestine and large parts of the haramain [Saudi Arabia].”

Some of the quotes are taken from poetry Bin Laden wrote about the Palestinians in which he promised the liberation of Jerusalem and praised the “purest of blood” of Palestinian “martyrs.” He exhorts Muslims that “your brothers in Palestine are eagerly awaiting. They are awaiting that you annihilate America and Israel.”

Bin Laden is also quoted calling on young Muslims to join jihad and target Americans and Jews by saying that “killing them throughout the globe is one of the greatest duties and leading righteous acts to Allah.” A quote in which he describes Jews as “those who fabricated lies against the Creator” is cited elsewhere in the booklet.

The publication was prepared ahead of the one year anniversary of the raid on Bin laden’s compound by American forces in Abbottabad. The editors, apparently the same team currently producing the English-language terrorist magazine Inspire, translated several messages from Bin Laden as “an eye-opener for those who aren’t yet familiar with the mujahideen’s cause.” They also praised him as a martyr, writing that it was “what he wish for… for the last three decade [sic].”

AQAP’s focus on Palestinians and Israel is also prevalent in the two most recent issues of Inspire magazine, released earlier in the month. The magazine compares events in Syria to “the Jewish treatment of the Palestinians.” One of the ads attacks Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, comparing him to Satan, and claiming that “they (the Jews) have the audacity to distort the word of Allah [parenthesis in the original].” Other messages in Inspire say, “Israel Can’t Hide” and call for attacks against Israeli targets as well as “Zionist and Zionist-friendly crusader media,” and “places where Jews are gathered, their leading personalities and institutions in Europe.”

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