Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is encouraging followers in the West to carry out new mass casualty attacks, providing an in-depth tutorial on how to derail trains and listing dozens of ‘vulnerable’ train routes in the U.S. as example targets.
Issue 17 of the terror group’s Inspire Magazine includes several articles detailing railways in the West and the dependency of economies such as the U.S. on the efficiency of the railroad for passenger travel and the transportation of goods.
One introductory article cites a GAO (Government Accountability Office) highlighting the vulnerabilities faced by U.S. railways that total over 100,000 miles in length and citing the transportation of hazardous materials to be of particular concern. Also noted in the report is the 5.6 million daily commuters on the NY subway.
An article entitled “Train Derail Operations,” urges jihadis to seize upon the vulnerabilities of the rail system, especially the lengthy unguarded tracks in the U.S., France and the U.K. and to place obstacles that will cause trains to derail, striking fear in the hearts of the West as well as weakening their economies.
“O Mujahideen, it is time that we instill fear and make them impose strict security measures to trains as they did with their Air transportation. Continue to bleed the American economy to more losses, increase the psychological warfare and make it worry, fear and weaken much more,” the article states.
An elaborate tutorial spanning 19 pages contains detailed instructions on how to assemble a “homemade derail tool,” as well as the best place to position it. Industrial uses for derail tools or “wedges” include unauthorized movement of trains of faulty breaks.
The tutorial instructs users on how to create a cardboard and Styrofoam scale model, which can then be used to build the contraption built with a mixture of steel and concrete, laid out in a six-part step-by-step tutorial.
The guide warns the ‘lone wolf’ to study train schedules carefully and place the obstacle close to the time a train passes by, as rail inspection cars are often deployed to inspect railways for wear and tear.
The simplicity of the device’s design (no explosives required) as well as the notion that such an attack is not a martyrdom operation, but rather one that can be repeated over and over again are listed by the writer as advantages over other forms of lone-wolf attacks.
A map of U.S. railroads also appears and some of the main passenger routes are highlighted.
Other highlights in the magazine include a transcript of a recent speech by Hamza Bin Laden, the ‘crown prince of terror’ and son of late Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden as well as an interview with Abdelmalek Droukdel, leader of Al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) appealing to “lone-mujahids’ especially in the U.S. and France.
“Today with the war between Muslims and the West escalating, you cannot count on the message of solidarity you may get from a civic group or a political party; or the word of support you hear from a kind neighbor or a nice co-worker. The West will eventually turn against its Muslim citizens” he warns.
Inspire Magazine has been published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula with issues going back to 2010. Much of the magazine’s attack focus has been labelled “open source jihad,” step-by-step guides advising would-be jihadis on how to carry out terror attacks, often with materials or equipment readily available. Past issues have included a summer 2010 edition with details on how to build a pressure cooker bomb and a fall 2010 edition encouraging “car ramming” attacks.
There has been some debate in the past over the authenticity of Inspire Magazine as an authentic Al Qaeda publication. The U.S. government deems the connection to Al Qaeda plausible and in 2013 launched a cyber attack to disrupt the magazine’s publication
Several ‘Inspire Guides’ appeared last year, most notably following the Orlando attacks in which Al Qaeda advised jihadis to ‘target white Americans, avoid minorities, because U.S. mislabels attacks as ‘hate crime.’
On another occasion, Al Qaeda criticized ISIS’ deployment of women in advanced roles of jihad.