Al-Qaeda Propagandist Called for Attacks on Sports Events

Patrick Goodenough | April 16, 2013 | 12:54am EDT
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The cover of the ninth edition of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s propaganda magazine, Inspire.

( – Although no group has claimed responsibility for Monday’s deadly bomb blasts at the Boston Marathon, a leading al-Qaeda ideologue last year recommended that jihadists in America include sporting events in their list of prospective terror targets.

Writing in the online magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Inspire, the terrorist known as Abu Musab al-Suri listed what he called “the most important enemy targets.”

Al-Suri contended that civilians should be targeted “when responding to a brutal practice carried out by America and her allied forces.”

“This is done by targeting human crowds in order to inflict maximum human losses,” he wrote. “This is very easy since there are numerous such targets such as crowded sports arenas, annual social events, large international exhibitions, crowded market-places, skyscrapers, crowded buildings … etc.”

“It is possible for ordinary Resistance fighters among the Muslims residing in America and the allied Western countries to target them, in order to participate in the jihad and the Resistance, and to stretch out a helping hand to the mujahidun [Islamic warriors].”

The U.S.-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist Web sites, drew attention Monday to the Inspire article.

Any short list of terrorist groups dedicated to carrying out attacks against U.S. targets would include AQAP, the al-Qaeda affiliate active in Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

It claimed responsibility for the failed attempt by Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to bomb a Detroit-bound aircraft on Christmas Day 2009; and for an attempt in Oct. 2010 to mail parcel bombs to the U.S., succeeding in getting them commercial cargo planes bound for the U.S. before they were discovered.

In his Inspire article, al-Suri wrote that “the goal of the operations of the Resistance and the Individual Terrorism Jihad is to inflict as many human and material losses as possible upon the interests of America and her allies, and to make them feel that the Resistance has transformed into a phenomenon of popular uprising against them.”

Abu Musab al-Suri, a leading al-Qaeda propagandist whose real name is Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, is wanted by Spain in connection with the 2004 Madrid bombings. (Photo: Interpol)

Al-Suri, a Syrian-born jihadist whose proper name is Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, is credited with authoring a 1,600-page online propaganda treatise entitled “Call for Global Islamic Resistance.”

He was captured in Pakistan in late 2005 and turned over to the U.S. custody. Wanted for plotting jihad against Syria’s Assad regime, he was then handed over to the Syrians.

But Syria reportedly released him in late 2011, a step experts speculated at the time was a signal to the U.S. government that Damascus’ counterterror cooperation was over because of its support for the anti-Assad opposition.

Al-Suri, who holds joint Syrian and Spanish citizenship, is wanted by Spain for alleged involvement in the 2004 Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people, and is the subject of an Interpol red notice.

His article on “the most important enemy targets” appeared in the ninth edition of Inspire, an AQAP publication which terrorism experts say has played an important role in cultivating and inciting English-speaking jihadists to plot attacks against Western targets.

The ninth edition came out in May 2012, and was the first to have been produced after Inspire editor Samir Khan was killed in a U.S. drone strike along with Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American cleric and top al-Qaeda propagandist, who also played a leading role in the magazine.

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