samir khan » ADL Blogs
Posts Tagged ‘samir khan’
April 22, 2013

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

May 16, 2012

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.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

May 2, 2012

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.”

Tags: , , , , , , , ,