CHARLOTTE, N.C., April 4, 2014 — The anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing is looming, and security for this year’s event will be at an all time high. Potential terrorists know that, and this year’s event will probably be the safest place in America when the race rolls around.
Last year’s attack was with pressure cooker bombs built by a pair of radicalized young men from the Caucasus. They were inspired by al-Qaeda’s English-language, on-line magazine, Inspire.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), one of the best watchdog organizations in the world at monitoring terrorist activities, has published an extensive exposé of the most recent efforts of Inspire. MEMRI observes, “Since its launch in 2010, Inspire has been known for its efforts to reach out to potential Western recruits. These efforts appear to have been successful; to date, over 20 young people have been arrested on terrorism-connected charges with copies of Inspire in their possession.”
MEMRI adds that, “The latest Inspire-connected arrest was on March 17, 2014, when 20-year-old Nicholas Teausant of California, who according to the affidavit wanted to bomb the Los Angeles subway system, was taken off an Amtrak train in Washington state at the U.S.-Canada border and charged with attempting to provide assistance to Islamic extremists in Syria.”
By itself, Teausant’s objective is frightening, but the deeper concern is that he posted information on Instagram explaining to other prospective terrorists how to use encryption software to communicate with the Taliban and Inspire. It represents a clear example of just how sophisticated global terrorism has become.
The failed car-bomb attack on New York’s Times Square in May, 2010, by a man named Faisal Shahzad signals the next terror technique on the horizon.
The evidence there in the current edition of Inspire, in a section titled “Letters from the Editor.” Though the English is often grammatically incorrect and words are misspelled, the meaning could not be clearer:
“Many Feisal Shahzāds are residing inside America, and all they need is the knowledge of how to make car bombs. They are all yearning to fulfill their duty of Jihād. The American government was unable to protect its citizens from pressure cooker bombs in backpacks, I wonder if they are ready to stop car bombs! Inspire Magazine humbly presents to you a simple improvised home recipe of Shahzād’s car bomb. And the good news is … you can prepare it in the kitchen of your mom too.”
Inspire makes the key point that there is no longer a need for group leadership from men like Osama bin Laden; individuals can have the same impact, as evidenced by the Tsarnaev brothers in Boston. Global terrorism is in a constant state of metamorphosis which makes it all the more difficult to battle.
An important element of terrorism is symbolism, which is an important facet of Islam. “The operation of the two Tsarnaev brothers in Boston has symbolic importance too; this is the city from whence the first sparks of (American) independence erupted. The target that was chosen was a marathon and on the finish line. Sending the message that today America is on the finish line. There is no need of Bin Laden’s leadership or Al-Awlaki’s charisma for its destruction … because Jawhar (sic) Tsarnaev, a 19-year-old young man, had already achieved that by just preparing a bomb in the kitchen, using kitchen utensils.”
Inspire provides basic instructions to any would-be terrorist about how to carry out an individual terrorist attack. In their simplest form, the ideas are obvious, but as a guidebook for terror, they are frightening.
“Be creative in your jihad. Think outside the box. Surprise the enemy, don’t follow a particular protocol. Look for a dense crowd.
“Disguise yourself during the operation, appear fat (add some clothes on you), change your complexion, be a ‘clone,’ use any mask suitable for the festival, white beards on 25th Dec. All in all, be creative brother. The most important part to hide is your eyes and around.
“Choosing the place and time is a crucial factor to success in any operation. Choose targets in your own country. You know the enemy better, you are within.
“Areas and Restaurants with high profile personalities – Usually these people visit the restaurants during the weekend: Arlington, Alexandria, Restaurants and Bars in the M street, [in] Washington [DC].
“Tennis stadiums; they are visited by thousands of people, and high profile people, especially the U.S. Open…”
“(Bombings are recommended for) election seasons, both presidential and Congress. During Christmas and New Year’s Eve, 25th and 31st December.”
“America is our first target, followed by the United Kingdom, France and other crusader countries.”
There are reasons to heed the messages of last year’s Boston Marathon, but the key to prevention is anticipation, education and knowledge about how the enemy thinks, plots and calculates its operations.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe. Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com).
Read more of What in the World and Bob Taylor at Communities Digital News. Follow Bob on Twitter @MrPeabod.