Drawing upon inspiration from the recent bombings in New York and New Jersey, Al Qaeda is renewing its call for ‘lone-wolf’ jihadis to attack the U.S. in a special edition of its digital magazine “Inspire.”
Entitled “The 9/17 operations – special issue,” the 16th edition of the terror group’s publication seeks to rally followers by providing in-depth analysis on recent terror attacks in the U.S., particularly the September attacks in the metro New York City area and the St. Cloud, Minnesota mall stabbing.
The magazine appears just one day after ISIS released its latest edition of Rumiyah, its publication geared toward a Western audience, calling for attacks on New York’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, almost as a reminder by Al Qaeda that they are the original inspiration behind lone wolf attacks as well as the innovators behind so many of the attack methods, such as pressure cooker bombs, knife jihad and vehicular “ram-raid” attacks.
Over the weekend of September 17, several explosions in the NY/NJ area left at least 30 people injured, and forced the cancellation of a U.S. Marine Corps charity run. On Monday September 19, Ahmad Khan Rahimi, an Afghan-American and the sole suspect in the attacks was taken into police custody following a shootout with police in Linden, NJ.
Neither ISIS nor Al Qaeda have yet claimed responsibility for Rahimi.
“This time Al-Qaida did not come out to declare responsibility for the operations, this is because America is witnessing a new form of operations and new form of tactics … They are indeed the heroes of Lone Jihad…,” Yahya Ibrahim writes in an editor’s letter at the beginning of the magazine.
In the next section, “Inspire Guide: New Jersey, Minnesota and Chelsea Operations,” the author recounts the timeline of the September NY/NJ bombings, emphasizing the significance of the terror attacks coming just days after the 15th anniversary of 9/11.
“The timing has both a political and security dimension, this is because carrying out an operation during the same days of the 9/11 anniversary increases the sense of fear, insecurity and brings back the memories in details; especially when the operation targeted the same place – Manhattan,” he writes.
Rahimi, 28, has appeared in court and was charged with terrorism offenses. While authorities remain unclear on the exact motive and ideology behind the attack, investigators believe he was motivated by late Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden as well as propaganda chief Anwar Al Awlaki. Late Islamic State propaganda chief was also cited as a source of motivation, according to scribble found in Rahimi’s notebook.
ISIS did claim the September 17 St. Cloud, Minnesota mall stabbing when Dahir Adan, a 22-year-old Somali immigrant, allegedly stabbed nine people. He was called a “soldier of the Islamic State.”
Al Qaeda appears to suggest that both Rahimi and Adan were inspired by their group rather than the Islamic State, arguing that if the attacks were coordinated, this was to “realize momentum in media and security.”
The writer further suggests the attacks may have initially been coordinated to be carried out on the Sept. 11 anniversary date, but perhaps pushed back to increase panic just days before the start of the U.N. General Assembly, when global leaders converge on the streets of New York City.
The writer later says Rahimi chose New York, “the economic capital of America,” and Saturday night as an ideal night as the streets are crowded.
“We urge you to target America. You can see how America gets exhausted by a single operation and how a single operation by a Lone Mujahid hero can cost America its prestige and security,” the article concludes.
There has been some debate in the past over the authenticity of the 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’ have appeared in recent months, 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.