PARIS (AFP) – Al-Qaeda urged Muslims in western countries to weld deadly steel blades to SUV vehicles and then plough into civilian crowds, in the second edition of the group’s online English-language magazine.
“Inspire”, a 74-page propaganda organ published by the Yemen-based wing of the Islamist group, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), aims to recruit young westerners to the jihadi cause and to inspire random attacks.
In an article titled “The Ultimate Mowing Machine”, illustrated with a picture of an imposing civilian Ford four-by-four truck, the group suggests arming the vehicle as a spiked battering ram and targeting crowded areas.
It urges attacks in “Israel, the US, Britain, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Denmark, Holland and other countries where the government and public sentiment is in support of the occupation of Palestine.
“If you have access to firearms, carry them with you so that you may use them to finish off your work if your vehicle gets grounded during the attack,” the article continued, warning that militants must be prepared to die.
“After such an attack we believe it would be difficult to get away safely. Hence, it should be considered a martyrdom operation,” it said.
Another section, entitled “My Life in Jihad”, profiles US citizen Samir Khan. US intelligence believes he is an Internet militant who once operated out of his parents’ basement in New York and is now in Yemen.
“I’m proud to be a traitor to America,” wrote Khan, whom authorities suspect is one of the militants behind the magazine. “I’m proud to be a traitor in America’s eyes just as much as I’m proud to be a Muslim.
“And I take this opportunity to accentuate my oath of allegiance to the ferocious lion, the champion of jihad, the humble servant of God, my beloved Sheikh Osama bin Laden, may Allah protect him,” he added.
Other articles include an interview with Abu Sufyan al-Azdi, a Saudi AQAP leader who was formerly imprisoned for six years at the US detention centre in Guantanamo, and messages from the radical US imam Anwar al-Awlaqi.
The final pages of the document include a section called “How to communicate with us” that provides a number of Al-Qaeda email addresses, including one with US software giant Microsoft’s free webmail service, Hotmail.
The group suggests that would-be recruits to its global struggle to restore the Muslim Caliphate download encryption software before sending messages in order to “avoid detection from the intelligence services.”
Dated autumn 1431/2010 in the Muslim and Julian calendars respectively, the second issue of “Inspire” will increase worries in the west that Al-Qaeda’s Yemen branch increasingly presents a serious threat to western targets.
Awlaqi in particular is bent on radicalising fellow English-speaking US and western citizens, and is accused of helping a Nigerian student plan the failed Christmas Day 2009 “underpants bombing” of a trans-Atlantic flight.
Awlaqi has publically urged US Muslims to follow the example of Major Nidal Hassan, a US army psychiatrist accused of fatally gunning down 13 colleagues during a rampage at Fort Hood, Texas, in November last year.
In an audio tape posted online Monday separately from “Inspire”, Al-Qaeda’s military chief in Yemen, Qassim al-Rimi, announced the creation of an “Aden-Abyan Army” to free the country of “crusaders and their apostate agents”.
Aden and Abyan are southern provinces in Yemen where AQAP is becoming more and more active, despite attempts by Washington to bolster the Yemeni military with cash and weapons and to kill militants through CIA drone strikes.
“Inspire” was first launched in July as AQAP’s English-language mouthpiece. Early attempts to put it online were disrupted, perhaps by foreign intelligence services, but copies rapidly spread around jihadi websites.