The FBI Terrorism Explosive Device Analytical Center (TEDAC) assesses the tactics used to construct suicide vest and belt improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Middle Eastern, African, and European regions likely have minimal correlation. Use of these tactics allows suicide bombers to discretely move to a desired target location and make real-time decisions to maximize lethality. The suicide belt design allows the wearer to conceal the device and blend in with their surrounding environment, as well as to position themselves in potentially crowded environments while not raising suspicion.
This report is focused on helping US communicators and analysts better identify opportunities to undermine AQ messaging. With this in mind, the report analyzes how AQ portrays itself and its objectives to the public through statements and multimedia releases – the messaging used to attract recruits, build public sympathy, and undermine adversaries such as the United States. Research for this analysis included AQ messaging dating back to 2000, with particular attention paid to recent messaging from 2009-2011. In addition to primary sources and open source research, interviews with 25 SMEs were used to surface master narratives, test hypotheses, and validate assertions. These SMEs were asked a combination of expansive, open-ended questions designed to surface new hypotheses as well as targeted questions designed to verify assertions. Combining these interviews with open source research, this report highlights how each master narrative reflects perceived history, themes, and objectives that are central to AQ’s public identity. Each of these master narratives appear with varied frequency across AQ messaging and propaganda, and collectively they represent a unified narrative system used by AQ and affiliate communicators.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Homeland Security and fusion centers around the country are warning that terrorists are interested in using fire as a weapon, particularly in the form of large-scale wildfires near densely populated areas. A newly released DHS report states that for more than a decade “international terrorist groups and associated individuals have expressed interest in using fire as a tactic against the Homeland to cause economic loss, fear, resource depletion, and humanitarian hardship.” The report notes that the tactical use of fire as a weapon is “inexpensive and requires limited technical expertise” and “materials needed to use fire as a weapon are common and easily obtainable, making preoperational activities difficult to detect and plot disruption and apprehension challenging for law enforcement.”
A document entitled “Full Expectations” was reportedly authored by Samir Khan, a U.S. citizen who was killed in a drone strike in Yemen last year along with Anwar al-Awlaki. The document details what potential Jihadis should expect and bears a great deal of similarity to Inspire magazine, which was also reportedly authored by Khan. After several new issues of Inspire magazine surfaced online in early May, the following document has also recently appeared online with an acknowledgement of the death of Samir Khan.
One of the more interesting aspects of Inspire magazine is its use of a public key encryption system for communication based upon a program called Asrar al-Mujahideen. The fundamentals of using this program are explained in the first issue of Inspire magazine. Throughout the first six issues of the magazine the same four email addresses are listed alongside a public key for use with the Asrar al-Mujahideen program. In the September 2011 issue there is a different public key listed, though the email addresses remain the same. All four email addresses used are associated with free email providers located in the United States. All of the providers log IP information for users of their services and the suggested program used for encryption does not take any steps to hide the sender’s identifying information.
Anwar Awlaki is the Imam at Dar Al-Hijrah in Falls Church, Va, which is one of the largest Islamic Centers in the United States. He is currently working on his PhD in Human Resource Development at George Washington University, received a Master of Education Leadership from San Diego state University and his BS in Civil Engineering from Colorado State University. He completed Islamic Studies in Yemen. He has been doing extensive public speaking on the above topics, especially since the events on September 11. Mr. Nihad Awad, President of the Counsel of American-Islamic Relations has also expressed interest in attending. Mr. Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League, will be in D.C. on February 4th and 5th, although I don’t think that our luncheon will have the clout to get his attendance!
The Intelligence Community (IC) assesses the death of al-Qa‘ida leader Usama Bin Ladin could result in retaliatory attacks in the Homeland and against US and Western interests overseas. Attacks might originate with al-Qa‘ida Core elements in the tribal areas of Pakistan, with one of their affiliates overseas, and/or with individuals in the homeland sympathetic to the cause but lacking a formal group association. We have no indications of advanced al-Qa‘ida Core plotting efforts in the Homeland, but the case of now-detained al-Qa‘ida operative Najibullah Zazi—who, along with two associates, planned to attack the New York City subway in 2009 using homemade explosives—demonstrates that unidentified operatives could advance plotting in the homeland.
Coverage in the Netherlands of a recent request by the Dutch police to remove issues of Inspire magazine from this website has often misrepresented our position, referring to this site as an “al-Qaeda website”, while failing to explain the nature of what this website does. Articles about the request have even been accompanied by gratuitous photos of Osama Bin-Laden. The fact that our publication of Inspire magazine is not supportive or promotional, but done for “educational and informational purposes” seems to have been missed by many Dutch readers. This is despite the fact that we have included uncharacteristic disclaimers stating this fact on every page where we have made Inspire magazine available. To any regular reader of this site it should be painfully obvious that we are not supporting, condoning or encouraging the activities contained in the magazine, or any other material we publish.
The National Crime Squad (DNR, Dienst Nationale Recherche) of the Dutch National Police (KLPD; Korps landelijke politiediensten) has threatened to shut down Public Intelligence if we do not remove the issues of Inspire magazine which are made available on this site. In a request made to our hosting provider in late February, the Dutch National Crime Squad demanded that we remove all issues of Inspire magazine from our website and refrain from distributing any further issues of the publication. The notice describes the magazine’s content as “illegal” under Dutch law: “Due to the content of this magazine which is considered illegal according to the Dutch law due to the inciting content related to Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula, we would like you to remove this magazine from your website.” The notice goes on to state that if the content is not removed from this site, the Dutch police “will under the force of circumstances take down your website on the dedicated server in the Netherlands according to Dutch Law.”
(U//FOUO) This product is intended to provide perspective and understanding of the nature and scope of potentially emergent threats in response to the posting of the second edition of Inspire magazine. It is also intended to assist federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies and authorities, the private sector, and other entities to develop priorities for protective and support measures relating to an existing or emerging threat to the homeland security.
With the release of their November 2010 Special Issue of Inspire magazine, a group claiming to be Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has again succeeded in getting the entire global news media to uncritically relate their message. Every few months since the first release of the magazine in July 2010, the public is now subjected to a mass of uncritical stories that propagate predefined talking-points which are taken almost verbatim from one of two “monitoring groups” which actually profit from the sale of terrorist propaganda materials. One of those groups, the SITE Intelligence Group, was founded by the daughter of an executed Israeli spy. Joel Meares of The Columbia Journalism Review writes that when “Reading the latest terror reports it seems that any questions about the validity of Inspire have disappeared. The magazine once greeted with skepticism and perspective—to what extent one publication can speak for as disparate and fractured a community as the jihadists is always a question—is now being treated as the unquestioned and official spokes-journal of Al-Qaeda. And some close watchers of Al-Qaeda caution against the approach.”
(U) As of 29 October, packages on cargo aircraft containing explosive materials were intercepted in the United Kingdom (UK) and Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The packages were shipped from Yemen, with the United States listed as the final destination. On the evening of 28 October,security officials at East Midlands Airport in Lockington, UK identified a suspicious package containing a modified printer-toner cartridge that was later confirmed to contain explosives.
(U//FOUO) This product is intended to provide perspective and understanding of the nature and scope of potentially emergent threats and to assess the initial public responseto the posting of Inspire Magazine. It is also intended to assist federal, state, local, and tribal government agencies and authorities, the private sector, and other entities to develop priorities for protective and support measures relating to an existing or emerging threat to homeland security.
Recently reports of an English-language “al-Qaeda magazine” were dealt with in mostly uncritical terms by the majority of news outlets. Wired’s Danger Room blog described how the new magazine was an attempt “to move politically frustrated Muslim youth in the West down the road of violent extremism” by filling that “inexplicably vacant media space between O: The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics and the al-Qaida book Knights Under The Prophet’s Banner”. FOXNews quotes Brookings Institution fellow Bruce Reidel as saying that the magazine is “clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the U.S. or U.K. who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber”. The Daily Beast quotes U.S. government officials as saying that the “U.S. government is aware of this new propaganda vehicle by al Qaeda in Yemen and Anwar Awlaki” and that “AQAP and Awlaki are clearly trying to incite terrorist activity overseas, and to recruit new extremists. The packaging of this magazine may be slick, but the contents are as vile as the authors.”
Anwar al-Awlaki May 23, 2010 Interview Video.