I gawked a bit at the second issue of al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine over at Danger Room this morning. But to call attention to something outside that post, take a look at Yahya Ibrahim’s advice to aspiring terrorists. (Around page 55 of this 74-page PDF.) Most of it is pretty expected: beware of snitches, take your time, etc. But this crosses a certain boundary:
Do not attempt to travel overseas to join the mujahideen in an overt manner… [Examples of people who got nicked by doing so, including this joker.] [W]e strongly encourage our brothers to fight jihad on U.S. soil. In fact even if traveling to join the fronts of jihad was accessible and easy, we would still encourage them to perform operations in the West. To kill a snake, strike its head.
For credibility reasons, al-Qaeda is desperate to pull something off inside the United States. I didn’t think it was quite so desperate as to tell aspirants in the West not to bother traveling to the safe havens to learn the tradecraft. “If you are clean, stay clean,” he continues. “Avoid contact with any jihadi minded individuals. Do not visit jihadi websites. Do not keep in your possession any suspicious material.” At a later point, he even advises people curious to learn about terrorism to read SITE and MEMRI, which is just too mind-bendingly ironic.
A final irony: for all the debate in the U.S. over the degree to which a law-enforcement model is appropriate for confronting terrorism, Inspire urges the next generation of terrorists to act like… criminals. Shoot up sandwich shops. Trick out your trucks with knives on the grill and drive them into crowded sidewalks. Use pressure cookers to make crude bombs. In fairness, Ibrahim does urge “brothers with degrees in microbiology or chemistry” to craft WMD, which he considers to have “extreme importance.” But, crucially, he doesn’t have any practical advice for them. He pledges to “cover such topics” as WMD production and usage “in our upcoming issues.”
Until then, the types of attacks he’s urging brainwashed youth in the U.S. to pull off are well within the criminal portfolio, far below what Faisal Shahzad and Najibullah Zazi failed or were thwarted from pulling off. Rare is the enemy who’ll downgrade his own importance in order to get some kid to do something, anything on his behalf.