Last July, al Qaeda of the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) published the inaugural issue of its English-language propaganda journal, Inspire . With instructions on how to build bombs “in the kitchen of your mom”, interviews with prominent jihadis, like American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki , and encouraging anecdotes by Westerners who had joined and fought with al Qaeda, Inspire sent tremors through the counterterrorism community.
A media frenzy ensued. Here was an easily accessible, attractively presented, and lengthy jihadi journal that not only celebrated the virtues of terrorism but actively sought to attract and recruit young Westerners in English. Inspire didn’t look cheap either. Borrowing from entertainment magazines, it relied on engaging pictures and cutouts, fancy fonts, and smart templates to connect with its intended readership.
Inspire not only glorified terrorism – it glamorized it.
Now, AQAP is back with a second, Fall issue of Inspire. Like the first, this issue offers 74 pages of glossy propaganda on all things jihadi.
Al-Awlaki is back with a lengthy theological refutation of an April 2010 anti-terrorism fatwa issued by prominent Islamic scholars. Two former Guantanamo Bay prisoners are featured, recounting their stories of fighting infidels and apostates. There’s an article on how to implement jihadi strategic theory by conducting individual, spontaneous, and autonomous attacks in the West. American jihadi, Samir Khan, offers a personal account of joining al Qaeda, titled “I Am Proud to be a Traitor to America”. Khan’s story is presented with a clever picture of an AK-47 artfully resting alongside a large rolling suitcase. There’s also the recurring “Tips” section that guides Westerners on planning and carrying out attacks on their neighbours.
And then there’s the gut-churning piece on do-it yourself terror that specifically targets Canadians.
In a “feature” article – “The Ultimate Mowing Machine” – AQAP offers instructions on how to use a vehicle, preferably a large SUV, to plough into unsuspecting bystanders going about their daily business. Reminiscent of the 2008 and 2009 bulldozer attacks in Israel, “the idea,” AQAP explains “is to use a pickup truck as a mowing machine, not to mow grass but [to] mow down the enemies of Allah.” To ensure maximum carnage, AQAP suggests welding “butcher blades or thick sheets of metal” on the front of the vehicle at chest-height in order to more easily “slice through bone” and inflict mortal wounds on victims. The ideal locations to carry out such attacks are pedestrian-heavy streets: “In fact if you can get through to “pedestrian only” locations that exist in some downtown (city center) areas, that would be fabulous”. And because perpetrators are unlikely to escape alive, AQAP sells vehicular terrorism as a suicide mission. “It’s a one-way road. You keep on fighting until you achieve martyrdom.”
Lest Canadians think we’re somehow not on AQAP’s target list, the journal piece specifically suggests carrying out such attacks “in countries like Israel, the U.S., Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Denmark, [and] Holland.”
It won’t take a genius to conduct an act of vehicular terrorism and it isn’t difficult for us to ponder the worst-case scenarios. Like the recent shooting rampages in Mumbai, India (2008), Lahore, Pakistan against Sri Lanka’s cricket team (2009) and Fort Hood, Texas (2009), perpetrators of vehicular terrorism can easily acquire the tools they need to kill and injure a lot of people. Unlike sophisticated bombing attacks, no special training and much less preparation will be needed to kill civilians. And like the bulldozer attacks in Israel, the carnage will go on until the perpetrators are aggressively confronted by police and incapacitated. Either that, or until they run out of gas.
Now that AQAP has described, in gory detail and in English, how Western jihadis can easily attack us with their moms’ cars, what are we going to do about it?
Posted by Alex Wilner