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April 22, 2013 1

Inspire Magazine: A Staple Of Domestic Terror

Pres­sure Cooker Bomb From Inspire Magazine

Update — May 30: The eleventh issue of Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula’s Inspire mag­a­zine cel­e­brates the April 15 Boston Bomb­ing, praises the Tsar­naev broth­ers and encour­ages future attacks against the U.S.

Update — April 23: Fed­eral law enforce­ment offi­cials have report­edly con­firmed that Dzhokhar Tsar­naev and his brother got bomb-making instruc­tions from Inspire magazine.

Shortly after author­i­ties revealed that pres­sure cook­ers were used in the explo­sives det­o­nated at the Boston Marathon last week, numer­ous media out­lets began to report and spec­u­late that the bombs matched designs in Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula’s English-language ter­ror mag­a­zine, Inspire.

Let’s be clear, there is still no evi­dence that broth­ers Tamer­lan and Dzkhokhar Tsar­naev read the ter­ror­ist mag­a­zine or used its pres­sure cooker instruc­tions, which are not unique to Inspire. How­ever, the Tsarnaev’s online activ­ity and social media pro­files indi­cate some fas­ci­na­tion with mil­i­tancy and Islam that are con­sis­tent with other mes­sages of Inspire.

Numer­ous inter­na­tional and domes­tic extrem­ists moti­vated by rad­i­cal inter­pre­ta­tions of Islam have been influ­enced by the mag­a­zine and, in some cases, report­edly uti­lized the bomb mak­ing instruc­tions in their attempts to carry out attacks. In the United States, for example:

  • In Novem­ber 2012, Raees Qazi was arrested along with his brother, She­heryar, for allegedly plot­ting a bomb attack against unspec­i­fied tar­gets in New York City.  Raees report­edly admit­ted hav­ing read Inspire mag­a­zine, and a search of his home turned up bomb-making com­po­nents con­sis­tent with instruc­tions that can be found in an issue of Inspire he had read.
  • In Novem­ber 2011, Jose Pimentel was arrested and charged with state-level ter­ror­ism offenses in New York after he allegedly came close to com­plet­ing three bombs based on an Inspire design. Pimentel’s web­site, “True Islam,” also reposted PDF copies of Inspire mag­a­zine. Pimentel appar­ently had planned to attack return­ing U.S. mil­i­tary per­son­nel, post office and police tar­gets. He is still await­ing trial.
  • In July 2011, Naser Jason Abdo was arrested at a motel in Killeen, Texas, where author­i­ties claimed that he was plot­ting to attack a restau­rant fre­quented by mil­i­tary per­son­nel based at Fort Hood.  Bomb mak­ing com­po­nents were recov­ered from the motel room. The arti­cle “How to Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom” from the first issue of Inspire mag­a­zine was report­edly also found in his room. Abdo has since been sen­tenced to life-in-prison for his attempted attack.
  • Adel Daoud, who was arrested in Sep­tem­ber 2012 and charged with plot­ting to bomb a Chicago-area bar, sent his friends copies of the mag­a­zine in order to “brain­wash them,” and called Inspire “the best mag­a­zine I have read.”

Inspire’s solic­i­ta­tion for reader con­tri­bu­tions have also played a role in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion process of other would be bombers in the U.S.

  • Mohamed Osman Mohamud, who was con­victed of attempt­ing to bomb the 2010 Christ­mas Tree Light­ing in Port­land, Ore­gon, allegedly wrote and sub­mit­ted an arti­cle to Inspire, although it was not published.
  • Quazi Nafis, who pleaded guilty to attempt­ing to bomb the New York Fed­eral Reserve Build­ing in Octo­ber 2012, also wrote an arti­cle that he sup­pos­edly planned to sub­mit to Inspire after his attack in which he described his desire to “destroy America.”

Most recently, in Novem­ber 2012, four men from South­ern Cal­i­for­nia were arrested and charged with plan­ning to travel abroad to Afghanistan to fight along­side the Tal­iban and Al Qaeda. Accord­ing to the crim­i­nal com­plaint, the inves­ti­ga­tion began in Jan­u­ary 2012 when one of the men was searched as he crossed the U.S.-Mexico bor­der and was found to have a copy of Inspire in his possession.

Samir Khan, a 24-year-old Amer­i­can known for dis­trib­ut­ing ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda mate­r­ial online, was the prin­ci­pal author of Inspire before he was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Sep­tem­ber 30, 2011.

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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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May 2, 2012 0

Al Qaeda’s Inspire Magazine Resurrected!

Two new issues of Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Peninsula’s English-language Inspire mag­a­zine were released today. The release of the mag­a­zines demon­strates AQAP’s recog­ni­tion of the pro­pa­ganda value of the Inspire fran­chise and serves as a reminder of the group’s con­tin­ued effort to tar­get west­ern audiences. 

They are the first issues to be released since Samir Khan, believed to be the prin­ci­pal author of the mag­a­zine, was killed in a Sep­tem­ber 2011 drone strike along with pop­u­lar jihadist ide­o­logue and mag­a­zine con­trib­u­tor Anwar al-Awlaki. At the time, their deaths led to spec­u­la­tion of the media franchise’s demise.

Inspire 8, dated fall 2011, focuses on the legit­i­macy of “tar­get­ing pop­u­la­tions of the coun­tries that are at war with the Mus­lims.” The fea­ture arti­cle, writ­ten by al-Awlaki, appears to be a piece promised in a pre­vi­ous issue of Inspire. “The pop­u­la­tions of the nations that are at war with the Mus­lims and espe­cially those who are at the lead such as the U.S., Britain and France,” al-Awlaki wrote, “should be tar­geted by the mujahidin in oper­a­tions that employ explo­sives, poi­sons, firearms and all other meth­ods that lead to inflict­ing the great­est harm on them…”

Inspire 9, dated “win­ter,” focuses on AQAP’s suc­cess in build­ing a strong­hold in Yemen. The issue also fea­tures pieces eulo­giz­ing al-Awlaki and Khan. Both issues were edited by “Yahya Ibrahim,” which some observers pre­vi­ously sug­gested was a pos­si­ble pseu­do­nym taken by Khan.

Both new issues of Inspire solicit reader involve­ment, wel­com­ing “cor­re­spon­dence, con­tri­bu­tions, pho­tographs and illus­tra­tions” and pro­vide con­tact infor­ma­tion for read­ers to sub­mit mate­ri­als. Issue 9 also calls for dis­sem­i­nat­ing the mag­a­zines as broadly as pos­si­ble and spec­u­lates that the FBI “might be try­ing to bring down sites that host the magazine.”

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