Online Al Qaeda magazine provided bomb tips to terror suspects

Thursday, December 30, 2010

LONDON - Nine men arrested in Britain on terrorism charges last week found inspiration and bomb-making instructions in an English-language online magazine published by Al Qaeda, a media report said Thursday.

The revelation, relayed by British newspapers, provided the first purported link between the nine British-based suspects, some of Bangladeshi origin, and an anti-Western terrorism campaign being waged by Yemen-based jihadists of Yemeni, Saudi, US and other nationalities under the aegis of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the Washington Post reported.

The magazine, Inspire, published a first issue in July, including the article “Making a bomb in the kitchen of your mom,” and has come out with two issues since then.

All three were written in easily accessible English, as opposed to the heavily theological Arabic-language screeds of other jihadist sites, according to Mathieu Guidere, a terrorism specialist at the University of Geneva.

A statement issued by British police said that between Oct 1 and Dec 20, the day of the arrests, the nine suspects were “researching, discussing, carrying out reconnaissance on, and agreeing potential targets” for a terrorist bombing as well as “igniting and testing incendiary material”.

A US State Department official in Washington said the American embassy in London was among the targets.

In a series of coordinated raids in three cities that appeared to be based on precise information, British police arrested 12 men in the early-morning hours.

They later released three and kept nine in custody.

Guidere said the fact that Bangladeshis in Britain, likely more familiar with English than Arabic, were consulting Inspire was “proof that the magazine works”. He added: “It is aiming at exactly that kind of a public.”

The second issue offered instructions on how to build deadlier bombs, designed to inflict heavier casualties, than those described in the first issue, Guidere noted. One article suggested an effective attack could be waged in urban areas by equipping a four-wheel-drive vehicle with protruding blades and plowing into a crowd.

Peter Neumann, a terrorism specialist at King’s College in London, said there was no known indication that any of the nine suspects had travelled to Yemen, Pakistan or Afghanistan for direct contact with Al Qaeda leaders.

But the Internet-born motivation and instruction such as that they allegedly acquired from Inspire, he noted, was an increasing worry among anti-terrorism officials in Europe and the US.

“This is now the biggest threat,” he said, “not that they were controlled by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, but receiving the instruction and being inspired by it.”

Filed under: Terrorism

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