The instructions look like any that you might use to assemble a bicycle or a backyard grill: a list of parts, pictures showing the assembly steps and side notes titled “Important,” “Remember” and “Hint.”
But in the case of Inspire, an online magazine produced by the terror organization Al-Qaida in the Arab Peninsula, these directions matter-of-factly show the reader how to build a car bomb.
“IMPORTANT: This type of car bomb is used to kill individuals and NOT to destroy buildings. Therefore, look for a dense crowd,” one reminder said.
“REMEMBER: If you intend to hide your identity, buy a car without any formal paperwork being exchanged,” another said.
“HINT: The higher the gas pressure the stronger explosion,” said another.
Reports have said that one of the improvised explosive devices built by San Bernardino shooters Syed Rizwan Farook and wife Tashfeen Malik was almost identical to the bomb featured in a 2010 edition of Inspire. The story was titled, “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”
The couple shot 14 people to death and wounded 22 at the Inland Regional Center. A bomb composed of three pipe bombs and a toy car that could have been detonated remotely was left behind inside the center.
Farook neighbor Enrique Marquez Jr. told FBI investigators that he and Farook had viewed Inspire’s bombmaking instructions as they planned attacks against Riverside City College and motorists on the 91 freeway in 2011 and 2012 that were never carried out. Marquez was arrested Thursday on suspicion of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.
The Inspire car-bomb story asked rhetorically why such a bomb should be deployed. The answer was, “Because every Muslim is required to defend his religion and nation. The Jews and Christians have dishonored the Muslims, desecrated our holy places, and cursed the beloved Prophet.”
PROPAGANDA SPANS ERAS
The magazines begin with a letter from the editor and include interviews with terror leaders, anti-American opinion pieces, messages to followers and a feature called “@heartheworld: A collection of quotes from friend and foe.”
The magazines suggest terror targets in the United States and abroad. Among them, restaurants in Washington, D.C., Virginia and its military bases, New York, Chicago (including the Sears Tower), Los Angeles and tennis stadiums hosting tournaments that draw large crowds. The best times for attacks, it says, are during election seasons, Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
The publication is particularly hard on President Barack Obama, calling him “The White House Gangster” and saying Obama’s dog, Bo, eats better than 100 million Americans.
Such propaganda dates to ancient times, said professor Nicholas J. Cull, director of the Master of Public Diplomacy program at USC.
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United." Affiliated with Georgetown University for over ten years, he shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."