Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released the 12th issue of Inspire magazine. The Long War Journal has obtained a copy of the magazine, which is published as a pdf file online.
The cover story of the magazine, “Shattered: A Story About Change,” argues that the 9/11 attacks were a “turning point” in American history. The author, Abu Abdullah Almoravid, conflates a series of unrelated issues into a single narrative that portrays the US as a crumbling empire.
In uneven English, Almoravid references everything from America’s economic woes to the elementary school shootings in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. Clumsy propaganda pieces such as “Shattered” are a regular feature in al Qaeda’s propaganda.
On a more serious note, the magazine devotes a lengthy section to what AQAP calls “Open Source Jihad.” As in past editions of Inspire, AQAP seeks to motivate and educate aspiring lone wolf jihadists who do not have the ability to receive more formal training.
In this edition, AQAP shows jihadists how to plan a car bomb attack on their own.
In the letter from the editor, Yahya Ibrahim refers to past operations, such as Faisal Shahzad’s attempted May 2010 car bombing in Times Square and the attacks on the Boston Marathon in April 2013. Shahzad was trained and dispatched by the Pakistani Taliban, but AQAP wants jihadists to emulate Shahzad’s actions on their own.
Ibrahim taunts American counterterrorism officials, saying the US government was unable to stop the Boston Marathon bombings, which utilized backpacks filled with pressure cooker bombs. Ibrahim adds, “I wonder if they are ready to stop car bombs!”
Ibrahim claims there are “many” Shahzads “residing inside America, and all they need is the knowledge of how to make car bombs” to “fulfill their duty of jihad.”
Over several pages in Inspire, AQAP offers what it says are the instructions to make a car bomb similar to Shahzad’s.
The author, dubbed the “AQ Chef,” explains how a shrapnel bomb can be assembled from common household items, including cooking gas cylinders and nails. The device can be set off by a “martyrdom bomber,” by a timer, or with a remote detonator. In the last instance, AQAP suggests a “toy-car remote, alarm remote, garage remote or any other,” as long as the bomb maker tests the remote first.
Inspire offers advice on how to avoid being detected by authorities. “It is better to start preparing the car bomb [a] few hours before the operation, because the security forces (if they come into your work place/house) cannot accuse you of preparing a bomb, especially if you distribute the ingredients in your house well,” the magazine reads.
The “AQ Chef” also offers what he calls “field data” on the types of targets that should be attacked. “This type of car bomb is used to kill individuals and NOT to destroy buildings,” he says. “Therefore, look for a dense crowd.”
The author advises jihadists that they should target places “flooded with individuals, e.g. sports events in which tens of thousands attend, election campaigns, festivals and other gathering [sic]. The important thing is that you target people and not buildings.”
America “is our first target, followed by [the] United Kingdom, France and other crusader countries,” the “AQ Chef” writes. Washington DC, New York, northern Virginia (because it “has a big military presence” and federal agencies are located there), Chicago, and Los Angeles are all listed as the preferred cities to target inside the US.
While al Qaeda is known for its desire to hit high-profile and symbolic targets, Inspire advises jihadists to hit other, more mundane locations as well.
For instance, the “AQ Chef” says that restaurants and bars in Arlington and Alexandria, Va., as well as on M Street in Washington DC, are visited by “high profile personalities” on the weekend and are, therefore, good places to attack.
Other possible targets in the UK and France are listed, including sports stadiums and tourist hotspots. Inspire says that terrorists should attack the entrances and exits of these locations as the facilities themselves are often difficult to enter with a bomb.
Inspire offers advice on the best times of the year for an attack, and even suggests that jihadists disguise themselves as Santa Claus during the Christmas holiday when carrying out a bombing.
Other pieces in the magazine were authored by high-profile al Qaeda ideologues such as Abu Musab al Suri, who was imprisoned inside Syria before the uprisings. There are conflicting reports on al Suri’s current status, as he may or may not have been freed. Al Qaeda branches, such as the Al Nusrah Front, openly follow al Suri’s advice. Inspire has included pieces culled from al Suri’s catalogue of writings in the past.
An article by Anwar al Awlaki, the deceased AQAP cleric who helped pioneer the group’s propaganda, is also included in the magazine. Awlaki was killed in a US drone strike in September 2011, and Inspire’s latest edition carries multiple condemnations of America’s drones.
A piece by “freelance journalist” Abdulilah Shaye tries to show the influence of al Qaeda’s propaganda. In a piece entitled “City Wolves,” Shaye, who was detained in Yemen for three years, blames President Obama for his arrest. Shaye claims Obama ordered his jailing to keep him quiet about a supposed “American massacre” of women and children in southern Yemen.
Shaye, who is known for his ability to get access to AQAP leaders, briefly recounts the stories of jihadists such as Major Nidal Malik Hasan, who killed 13 people in a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Tex. in 2009, as well as the story of the Tsarnaev brothers, who were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombings.
Still another piece by AQAP theologian Ibrahim Rubaish, who was once held at Guantanamo, takes aim at the Obama administration’s claim that al Qaeda is on the “path to defeat.” Rubaish cites the closing of more than 20 US diplomatic facilities in August 2013 as an example of why this thinking is wrong.
The diplomatic facilities were closed after American officials learned that al Qaeda emir Ayman al Zawahiri had communicated, via a complex Internet-based system, with more than 20 al Qaeda operatives around the world. The al Qaeda terrorists reportedly discussed a possible attack on a US embassy or consulate. During the communications, Zawahiri also made it known that he had appointed Nasir al Wuhayshi, the head of AQAP, as the new general manager of al Qaeda’s global operations.