Terrorist Propaganda Encourages Attacks With Common Items

  • July 15, 2016

The use of a vehicle to kill civilians in yesterday’s apparent terror attack in Nice, France, serves as a reminder of how terrorist groups and their supporters encourage their adherents to carry out attacks with common resources.

In addition to run-over style attacks, terrorists have encouraged the use of common items such as household products to make bombs, as well as various other tactics in their online magazines, speeches and other propaganda.

Image encouraging car attacks from AQAP Inspire Mujahid Pocketbook propaganda

Image encouraging car attacks from AQAP Inspire Mujahid Pocketbook propaganda

The following list provides a sampling of some of the tactics promoted by foreign terrorist organizations in the last several years. Notably, a number of the suggestions are repeated by different groups, and the use of vehicles in attacks is a common theme.

ISIS:

  • The 14th issue of Dabiq, ISIS’s English-language propaganda magazine, called on supporters to assassinate prominent Muslim leaders in the U.S. and U.K. for not supporting ISIS, “with the resources available...(knives, guns, explosives, etc.).”
  • In a January 2015 speech, al Adnani similarly called for attacks, “whether with an explo­sive device, a bul­let, a knife, a car, a rock or even a boot or a fist.”
  • An ISIS video released in December 2014 stated, “There are weapons and cars avail­able and tar­gets ready to be hit. Even poi­son is avail­able, so poi­son the water and food of at least one of the ene­mies of Allah. Kill them and spit in their faces and run over them with your cars.”
  • In a September 2014 speech that was widely translated and shared over social media, ISIS spokesman Abu Mohamed al Adnani called for ISIS supporters to commit lone wolf attacks against civilians, and provided a number of suggestions for doing so, including by running them over. He stated: “If you are not able to find an IED or a bul­let, then sin­gle out the dis­be­liev­ing Amer­i­can, French­man, or any of his allies. Smash his head with a rock, or slaugh­ter him with a knife, or run him over with your car, or throw him down from a high place, or choke him, or poi­son him…. If you are unable to do so, then burn his home, car, or busi­ness. Or destroy his crops.”

Al Qaeda:

  • Cover of the first issue of Inspire, AQAP

    Cover of the first issue of Inspire magazine

    Following the terror attack in Orlando, a June 2016 publication released by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) provided advice for making copycat attacks more lethal and maximizing their propaganda value.

  • In May 2016, the 15th issue of Inspire magazine, AQAP’s English-language propaganda magazine’s provided sug­ges­tions for mak­ing bombs using readily available items to con­duct the assas­si­na­tions, includ­ing pack­age bombs, small bombs under cars, and bombs that can be attached to a doorframe.
  • In March 2014, the 12th issue of Inspire magazine provides instructions for assembling car bombs out of “easily available” materials.
  • In 2013, Inspire magazine, AQAP’s English-language propaganda magazine, issued a companion publication titled the “Mujahid Pocketbook,” which aggregated various attack suggestions promoted in Inspire and provided some additional suggestions as well. Plot ideas included torching parked vehicles, causing road accidents, starting forest fires, using vehicles to run over civilians, and building bombs.
  • In October 2010, second issue of Inspire magazine suggested using a modified vehicle to run over civilians and provided instructions on building an explosive device.
  • The first issue of Inspire magazine, released in July 2010, provided instructions for building a pressure cooker bomb, which can be made out of common household items.

Other terrorist organizations and their supporters have been similarly active in promoting various specific attack suggestions. This has been particularly clear among Palestinian terrorist organizations and their supporters, who have promoted suggestions that parallel those advocated by Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Terrorist supporters sometimes promote their own ideas for nontraditional attacks online as well. In a recent example, a discussion on a pro-ISIS forum that ran between June and July 2016 included a number of terror attack suggestions from forum users, some of which had been suggested by official terrorist propaganda as well. Among them were setting forest fires and calling in false reports of bombs to disrupt the operations of emergency services