Al Qaeda English Magazine Calls for Explosives on U.S.-Bound Aircraft

  • November 22, 2010


Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen – which sent explosive-laden packages on U.S.-bound cargo flights in October – has threatened to "bleed the enemy to death" by sending similar explosive devices on both commercial and passenger aircrafts in Western countries.


The media wing of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, released the third issue of its English-language magazine Inspire via the internet on November 20, 2010.  The entirety of the issue is dedicated to "Operation Hemorrhage" – the apparent sobriquet AQAP has attributed to its October 2010 plot to send explosive-laden packages in cargo shipment bound for the U.S.  The objective of the plot, according to Inspire, was to create a "hemorrhage in the aviation industry, an industry that is so vital for trade and transportation between the U.S. and Europe."

AQAP previously claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing in a November 5, 2010, statement that urged followers to carry out similar attacks against Western aviation.  "We wish to encourage our Mujahideen [Muslim warriors] brothers all over to expand their targets to include civilian aircrafts in the West in addition to courier services," the statement read. 

The parcels, which consisted of manipulated ink toner cartridges and were discovered in Britain and in the United Arab Emirates en route to the U.S., originated from the same location in Yemen and were addressed to Chicago-area synagogues.  The plot, according to an Inspire article written by apparent AQAP member Yahya Ibrahim, was devised to inflict economic damage on the U.S. and the West, which would subsequently "invest billions of dollars on new security procedures."  To that end, an operation that AQAP claims cost $4,200 would "end up costing the West hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of hours of work in an attempt to protect itself from our packages of death." 

In addition to its economic objective, AQAP also touted other effects of bringing down a cargo plane, despite only carrying one pilot and co-pilot and therefore failing to cause maximum casualties.  "Blowing up the planes in the sky would add to the element of fear and shock but that would have been an additional advantage to the operation and not a determining factor of its success," according to one article.

The most recent issue of Inspire provides detailed information about the materials used and the manner in which AQAP assembled the bombs.  Also included are descriptive accounts of the ways in which AQAP assembled and packaged the explosives to avoid detection from metal detectors, bomb-sniffing dogs and x-ray machines.  AQAP warned that it will share the technical details of its explosive devices and ways to circumvent American and Western security "to the mujahidin [Muslim warriors] around the world to use from their respective countries."  

In the same vein, AQAP calls for additional attacks to "bring down America."  According to the editor's note, this entails staging "smaller attacks that involve less players and less time to launch and thus we may circumvent the security barriers America worked so hard to erect."  This strategy of attacking the U.S. with small and frequent operations is referred to as "the strategy of a thousand cuts," intended to "bleed the enemy to death."  AQAP also calls for the release of Muslims who are currently detained in the U.S. on terror-related charges or have been connected to U.S.-based terror activities.

In addition to detailing AQAP's strategy to "bring down America," Inspire espouses anti-Semitic and extreme anti-Israel messages, which remain central to AQAP's ideology and tactics.  Such rhetoric is used to justify addressing the explosive-laden parcels to Chicago-area synagogues.  "It is a response to the continuous support to the usurping Jews who are invading Jerusalem and are blockading Gaza," one article reads. 

According to another article, written by the unnamed Head of Foreign Operations, the packages were addressed to the synagogues "in Chicago, Obama's city," because AQAP is "facing a coalition of Crusaders and Zionists" and "will never forget Palestine."  "How can we forget it," the article reads, "when our motto is: 'Here we start and in al-Aqsa we meet'?"

Like previous AQAP statements, Inspire criticizes Saudi Arabia for its alleged cooperation with the Jews and for providing intelligence that enabled Western officials to disrupt the plot.  "Do not wait for these traitor governments to free Jerusalem or to stand in the face of the Crusader invasion on Muslim land," another article reads.  "It is clear to you what you see with your own eyes that they are stooges to the Jews and Christians."

Also featured in this issue of Inspire is a map of Israel with the caption "Palestine Speaks A Thousand Words."  Imposed on the map are various phrases and words, including "Al Qaidah [sic] is coming," "Swords and Guns," "Qital [fighting]," "Jihad," "Machine Gun," and "AK47."

Previous issues of Inspire encouraged terror attacks on U.S. soil and featured articles written by two Americans who have aligned themselves with the Yemeni-based terrorist organizations.  In the October 2010 issue, Samir Khan, an American blogger who distributed terrorist propaganda material from the U.S. for several years before leaving for Yemen the previous October, explains that he traveled to Yemen to "implant Islam all over the world" without being confined within the American legal system. According to Khan, fomenting "Islam's claim to power in the modern world" entails fighting the U.S. and its allies. "I am acutely aware that body parts have to be torn apart, skulls have to be crushed and blood has to be spilled," Khan wrote.

In another article in the October 2010 issue, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric living in Yemen who encourages American Muslims to attack non-Muslims and has been designated by the U.S. as a "key leader" of AQAP, threatened to "terrorize" the Israelis, Americans and the British and "do what we can to strip them of their safety and security."  In the July issue, al-Awlaki called for "the execution" of those who have promoted the "defamation of Muhammad," including a Seattle-based artist who started a campaign – "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" – in opposition to the threats against the creators of South Park for satirizing issues surrounding the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.


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