Blogs of War

Hizballah Cavalcade

Internet Haganah



Kremlin Trolls

Making Sense of Jihad

Selected Wisdom

Views from the Occident


American Terrorists

Anwar Awlaki

Al Qaeda


American Al Qaeda Members

Inspire Magazine

Revolution Muslim


News, documents and analysis on violent extremism

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Inspire's Ode to the Not-So-Lone Wolves

Previous: Inspire Issue 5 Aims For Rapid Repositioning

Some counterterrorism-oriented notes from the fifth issue of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine:

In the "Ask Inspire" section, a writer (presumably Awlaki) encourages Americans to stay at home and carry out lone-wolf terrorist attacks rather than travel to the fields of jihad. Interestingly, it pushes the lone-wolf concept even further than previous issues, pointing out that the FBI has diverted would-be mujahideen who reached out to others for help. Probably-Awlaki argues that success is more likely if the aspiring mujahid acts without consulting ANYONE.

But there are virtually no documented cases in which an American with clear jihadist motivations has acted totally in a vacuum. Jihadism is a social movement typically carried out because the participant has an overly strong sense of community. Lone actors are exactly the opposite.

Awlaki cites Nidal Hasan and Stockholm bomber Taimour Abdulwahab as examples of "lone wolves," but in reality, Hasan had contact with Awlaki directly, and Abdulwahab may have had accomplices. Omar Farouk Abdulmutallab is cited elsewhere in the magazine as another example of lone wolfism, but he hardly qualifies, having been trained at an AQAP camp and assigned his mission by Awlaki personally.

AQAP's military commander Abu Hurairah also praises the not-so-lone wolves in an interview segment. He calls for a homegrown operation after every Western operation targeting mujahideen.

An extract from the writings of Abu Musab Al Suri calls for assassinations of Western military and civilian leaders. Al Suri writes that assassination is good enough for the CIA, so it's good enough for Al Qaeda.

Given that assassins are much more likely to be lone actors than other kinds of terrorists, this is probably something counterterrorism officials should be looking at. This message is reinforced by Awlaki's celebration of the assassination of Anwar Sadat later in the magazine.

It's also reinforced by repeated references throughout the magazine to Roshonara Choudhry, the British Muslim who attempted to assassinate British parliament member Stephen Timms as revenge for his vote in favor of the Iraq War.

Of all the examples cited, Choudhry is the only one who really fits the profile of a lone wolf in the purest sense. If any case study recommends itself out of Inspire No. 5, it's Choudhry. Unfortunately, her case also highlights the one redeeming characteristic of the otherwise weak lone-wolf model -- she didn't give herself away until it was too late.

For more about Awlaki and other American jihadists, pre-order "Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go To War In The Name Of Islam," the first comprehensive look at the phenomenon of American jihadists from the 1970s to the present.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



Tweets referencing this post:



", granular analysis..."

ISIS: The State of Terror
"Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger's new book, "ISIS," should be required reading for every politician and policymaker... Their smart, granular analysis is a bracing antidote to both facile dismissals and wild exaggerations... a nuanced and readable account of the ideological and organizational origins of the group." -- Washington Post

More on ISIS: The State of Terror

"...a timely warning..."

Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam:
"At a time when some politicians and pundits blur the line between Islam and terrorism, Berger, who knows this subject far better than the demagogues, sharply cautions against vilifying Muslim Americans. ... It is a timely warning from an expert who has not lost his perspective." -- New York Times

More on Jihad Joe


INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


Newest posts!

Just Days After OKC Bombing, Informant Named Two K...

New Issue of Al Qaeda's Inspire Magazine Aims For ...

September 11 Stock Footage Box

Top Stories, Tuesday, March 22

Defining Our Interests

Video: American Jihadist Abdullah Rashid Talks Afg...

Site News: Updated Pages

American Jihadist Omar Hammami Said To Be Killed i...

Congressional Hearing on Muslim Radicalization Pos...

Jamaat-Al-Muslimeen: Radical But Disciplined Messa...


New York Pipe Bomb Suspect Linked to Revolution Muslim

The Utility of Lone Wolves

Interview with Online Jihadist Abu Suleiman Al Nasser

A Way Forward for CVE: The Five Ds

How Terrorists Use The Internet: Just Like You

PATCON: The FBI's Secret War on the Militia Movement

Interview About Jihad With Controversial Cleric Bilal Philips

Forgeries on the Jihadist Forums

U.S. Gave Millions To Charity Linked To Al Qaeda, Anwar Awlaki

State Department Secretly Met With Followers of Blind Sheikh

State Department Put 'Political Pressure' On FBI To Deport Brother-in-Law Of Osama Bin Laden In 1995

FBI Records Reveal Details Of Nixon-Era Racial Profiling Program Targeting Arabs

Gaza Flotilla Official Was Foreign Fighter in Bosnia War

U.S. Had 'High Confidence' Of UBL Attack In June 2001

Behind the Handshake: The Rumsfeld-Saddam Meeting