Oct. 12, 2010 -- The second issue of an English-language Al Qaeda magazine includes an article by an American jihadi in which he proclaims "I am proud to be a traitor" and instructions on how to mow down government workers on their lunch hour in Washington, D.C.
Samir Khan, an American citizen who left for Yemen last year, is believed to be the creator of the web magazine "Inspire," which U.S. officials say is published by Al Qaeda's Yemeni affiliate, Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), and is designed to recruit Western jihadis to launch terror attacks. In a newly released issue, Khan writes about turning his back on America and becoming "Al Qaeda to the core."
"I praise Allah and laugh at the intelligence agencies that were watching me for all those years," writes Khan. "Back in North Carolina, the FBI dispatched a spy on me who pretended to convert to Islam."
Khan says he now "could no longer reside in America as a compliant citizen. … I am proud to be a traitor to America."
Khan was born in Saudi Arabia but was raised in New York and then lived in North Carolina, where he operated web sites from his parent's basement, including one that praised Osama bin Laden and showed footage of attacks against US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The issue also includes how-to guides in what the authors call "open source jihad." One article suggests equipping a large pickup truck with steel plates and sharp objects to cut down pedestrians. In an article attributed to Yahya Ibrahim, a radical cleric, the article pictures a large Ford pick-up truck and notes, "The idea is to use a pickup truck as a mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah."
The article also calls for conducting midday attacks with firearms on Washington, D.C. restaurants in hopes of killing government employees on their lunch hours. Separately, the author suggests that those "brothers with degrees in microbiology or chemistry ... develop a weapon of mass destruction" like nerve gas.
Other articles include tips on computer security – how to permanently delete files that might fall into the hands of law enforcement or intelligence services – and a story with pointers for would-be mujahedin on what recruits should expect when they travel overseas to terrorist training camps.
'How To Make A Bomb In the Kitchen of Your Mom'
The first issue of "Inspire," released on the internet this summer, included articles allegedly penned by Osama bin Laden. Ayman Zawahiri and radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who has been linked to the Fort Hood shootings and to the failed Christmas Day bombing of Northwest flight 253. It also gave step-by-step instructions in the article "Make A Bomb In The Kitchen Of Your Mom" on how jihadis can make a bomb "from ingredients available in any kitchen in the world."
In an advice column called "What to Expect in Jihad – Part One, " "Mukhtar" urged would-be jihadis to pack light when on the road, warned them not to become frustrated by language barriers, and noted that having a companion eases travel. "Having a friend makes a difference," says a cheery yellow post-it note displayed next to a handful of bullets.
The online magazine is another example of the vast amount of propaganda floating on the Internet. Last year the FBI's Directorate of Intelligence estimated that there were as many as 15,000 websites and web forums that were supportive of terrorist activities and that about 80 percent of those sites existed on U.S-based computer servers. US counterterrorism and intelligence analysts remain concerned about the spread of Internet propaganda and its ability to possibly incite violence.
Last month FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before Congress saying, "The Internet has expanded as a platform for spreading extremist propaganda, a tool for on-line recruiting and a medium for social networking with like-minded extremists. And this has contributed to the threat from homegrown radicalization in the United States."
The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued an intelligence note after the first issue of "Inspire" was published online. DHS and the FBI noted they were concerned "that the sophisticated, colloquial English-language magazine could appeal to certain Western individuals and inspire them to conduct attacks in the United States in the future."
"The latest edition of 'Inspire' is not very inspiring," said Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R.-Michigan, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. "The call for lunch-counter attacks in Washington, D.C. is alarming, but consistent with the type of smaller-scale terrorist attacks that al-Qaeda and its affiliates are seemingly focused on these days. Overall, the themes and messages of this edition are a repeat of the ones we saw in the first edition."