The most recent edition of al-Qaeda’s magazine Inspire for Spring 2014 contains one of the most troublesome articles I’ve ever read. Issue 12, entitled “Shattered: Story About Change,” initially seemed like most other editions of Inspire that I’ve read in the past, until I came to the last story in the magazine. As I began to read, I felt an eerie sense of evil mixed with technology filling the room.
The final story caught my attention when I read the following, “The open source jihad is America’s worst nightmare… It allows Muslims to train at home instead of risking a dangerous travel abroad.” We’ve all read about the “Lone Wolf” threat and even experienced it as seen in the Boston Bombings. However, what I’m about to tell you, if the terrorists manage to pull it off, will make the Boston Bombings look like child’s play in comparison.
The article in question claimed that open source jihad is a “resource manual for those that loathe the tyrants,” promising information on bomb-making techniques, tradecraft, guerilla tactics, weapons training and more. Curious to see just how effective this open source jihad really was, I turned the page and realized this problem had just become even more serious than before.
The first section of the article was aptly named “OSJ Bomb School” and provided step-by-step instructions on how to make a car bomb “…even in countries with tight security and surveillance.” The explanation was simple, the individual parts and pieces don’t raise concern when purchased or acquired but, when assembled they can create a devastating explosive device. The list of items that are said not to raise suspicion when bought individually include: epoxy, Christmas lights, barometers, gas grill propane tanks, and oxygen cylinders.
The author, using the pen name AQ Chef, doesn’t miss a beat before beginning his step-by-step instructions on how to assemble and test the car bomb, by saying:
“My Muslim brother, before you start reading the instructions, remember that this type of operation if prepared well and an appropiate (sic) target is chosen and Allah decrees success for you, history will never forget it. It will be recorded as a crushing defeat on the enemies of Islam.”
He goes on to specifically explain that the type of car bomb he’s teaching his readers to build is not effective against buildings, but is very effective at killing people.
The author then continues giving a basic chemistry class on gas pressure, units of measure, conversion, and how to mix the oxygen with the propane. Images accompany every step of the instructions showing how to glue the valve stem from a tire to the connecting nut to be used in a subsequent step. The final piece of advice is to load up the bomb with up to 100,000 pieces of shrapnel, using nuts, bolts, and nails to achieve “maximum carnage.”
So, if this wasn’t enough to get you thinking, then wait for the next set of instructions they give to their readership of aspiring jihadis. Under the section entitled “Car Bomb: Field Data,” the author, AQ Chef, gives his readers general and specific targets. But wait, there’s more! He goes on not only to order specific targets be attacked, but also tells the bomber when to attack them. Among the specific targets are bars and restaurants in Arlington, Alexandria, and M Street in DC because many high-profile people frequent these locations especially during the evening and on weekends.
What’s chilling about this article is the specific pre-operational information the author feeds to his would-be bombers, telling them to target people on the weekends and during elections, Christmas and New Year’s eve celebrations, and to practice advanced tradecraft like daisy chaining purchases, wearing disguises, waiting until the last minute to assemble the car bomb, and more. One of the articles earlier in the magazine rhetorically asked if America were ready for car bombs when they couldn’t even deal with pressure cooker bombs in backpacks, in reference to the Boston Bombings.
After reading the magazine in its entirety, and having heard or seen no news about this or warnings from DHS or the FBI to the general public, I began to wonder if the authorities had even heard about it. I contacted four newspapers, the FBI and the Alexandria Police. One reporter returned my call and basically said they wouldn’t publish a story about it because “they could get sued by the businesses in those locations.” The FBI called me and asked me where I had found the .pdf magazine online and requested that I email them a copy. And finally, the counter-terror rep from Alexandria Police told me they were aware of the threats but did not intend on telling the general public because they “didn’t want to scare a bunch of people.” The only other sort of news piece I could find was a blog entry at the Long War Journal.
So, let’s summarize. The FBI didn’t even have a copy of the online terrorist magazine, major news outlets either refused to return my calls or were worried about getting sued by businesses if their clientele disintegrated in the face of the warnings, and the Alexandria, Va Counter-terror office “decided” it would be best not to let anyone know because they didn’t want to scare a bunch of people.
This magazine provided specific instructions on how to assemble a car bomb from everyday materials that anyone can buy, it charged lone wolves with targeting bars and restaurants on a specific street during a specific time of day, and finally provided basic counter-intelligence and tradecraft information to its readers, and yet neither the police, the FBI or newspapers see fit to inform the public about this threat?
We’ve shut down US Embassies on less specific information than this! I want everyone to know about the potential threats we face in the Homeland and I don’t think the Federal or state government should pick and choose when to tell people about specific terrorist threats. I hope SOFREP makes this article open to the public because the public needs to know about their government’s decisions to keep them in the dark and about the potential attacks we face.
(Featured Image Courtesy: The Times Middle East)