4 AUG 2013 NOTE: This report was initially released by IntelCenter on 2 Jun. 2013. In light of the high threat of attack in Aug. against US targets and the closure of US embassies and consulates from Mauritania to Bangladesh, it is being reissued as the 2 Jun. message from AQAP serves as an indicator of an upcoming attack that would fit within this time period.
On 2 Jun. 2013, al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) al-Malahim released a new 6'02" video containing an audio statement from Commander Qasim al-Rimi entitled, "Message to the American Nation". Al-Rimi speaks in Arabic and the video has English subtitles. The message fits the structure of warning messages by core al-Qaeda and its affiliates and thus serves as an indicator of a possible upcoming attack against Americans with a focus on US soil. There is no ability to set a fixed time window on when such an attack could occur. While it could be in the near-term, historical patterns have shown the threat window to extend as far out as a year or longer between warning and attack. This is partly indicative of the time it takes to move from conception to execution. The production date of al-Rimi's video is May 2013 but it was not broadly released until 2 Jun.. A transcript of al-Rimi's statement appeared in the 11th issue of AQAP’s Inspire magazine which was released around 30 May 2013.
In the message al-Rimi references the Boston Marathon bombings and ricin attacks. He said, "The Boston events, the road accidents and the poisoned letters and others, disregard of the people behind them, indicate that the control of your security has broken away and operations against you has taken a path which can be controlled not. So grasp unto yourselves if you love yourselves. Because making these bombs has become in everyone's hand [sic] reach. So those standing against your aggression and oppression on humanity need no trouble, but a bit of thinking, choosing a location which will damage your economy and terrify your hearts, thence you will pray for woes and destruction, evoking near past memories."
Traditional al-Qaeda warning messages serve to let their enemies know their current actions are wrong and it is up to them to change them. It fulfills a jihadist obligation to give their enemies a chance to correct their ways. If the enemy chooses not to correct their ways then they alone bear the responsibility for any attacks against them. The jihadist group is absolved of responsibility as it was left with no choice but to act. The victims forced them to do it.
"O American nation, indeed, your security is not achieved by despoiling other nations' security or by attacking and oppressing them. Your security is achieved by stopping the foolish, who rule you, from oppression and aggression. Know that oppression and aggression rebound on the throats of the perpetrators."
Al-Rimi's message firmly fixes responsibility for the US government's actions on the American people. This supports a justification for mass casualty attacks targeting civilians as it shifts responsibility from only residing with military and government targets. His message also maintains a consistent core targeting preference for al-Qaeda, striking at the US economy.
"Your leaders are assaultive, oppressive and tyrannical, and you stand behind them cheering, supporting and voting for them. Do you think anyone will excuse you while your leaders induce you to err, kill Muslims and support whoever kills them just for being a suspect? Then you come about claiming you have the right to defend yourselves! How about the aggression which is clear to your fools, and is not denied by your young, will you be excused of? Is your support for the Jews in Palestine excusable? Is the killing of our children and women in Kabul, Baghdad, Mogadishu and Sanaa excusable? Is meddling in our affairs and installing whomever tyrant agents and lackeys you want who kill and oppress our nation forgivable. And a lot of others including plundering, looting, countless forms of oppression and aggression, do you dare think that after all this you will be salvaged and feel secure? Nay! Wallah! [I swear!] Instead, everyday you will be hit by the unexpected and your leaders can repel nothing! Do not deny when evil befalls you, when you taste a bit of destruction that you inflict on others. Hence, blame none but yourselves. Gulp the bitterness of war, death, destruction and insecurity as other oppressed humans do. The two decade war has not laid down its burden, rather it is at its peak. The war between you and us has not ceased..."
Referencing the death of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki he said, "O American nation, did the war end with the killing of Sheikh Osama bin Laden (may Allah accept him) like you leaders lied unto you? Did the call to fight you end with the killing of Sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki like they exploited your inattention? Did your aggression on Afghanistan, Palestine and other Muslim countries end? Did you annihilate the Jihadi groups that, by the Grace of Allah, have spread everywhere after they have only been in Afghanistan? Today, they are near your homes if not in them."
Towards the end of his message he shifts from addressing the American people to jihadists living in the US and calling on them to conduct attacks on US soil. He said, "Finally, to the oppressed and subdued in America among the brothers of religion and creed. We encourage you to carry on with this way, be steadfast on this deen. Carry out your obligations, defend your religion and follow in the footsteps of those who supported their religion and ummah whilst they are in their enemy's den."
The US faces a two-pronged threat from group's like AQAP. One prong contains traditional terrorist operations planned and executed directly by the group, like the Christmas Day underwear bomber, and the other is of homegrown actors inspired and empowered by AQAP's messages and remote training materials without ever having had to travel abroad or communicate directly with the group.
Al-Rimi's message would typically not be issued solely to support homegrown actions. This level of warning would normally be utilized in advance of major operations by the group. However, al-Rimi's call for jihadists living in the US to strike further complicates the threat environment on US soil. In other words, this message serves as an indicator of a major upcoming strike by AQAP against an American target while simultaneously increasing the threat of independent homegrown strikes.
The last time al-Rimi released an audio/video message was on 24 Dec. 2012. It was entitled, "Jihad of an Ummah" and had English subtitles. The last time AQAP's al-Malahim used English subtitles was in its 18 Apr. 2013 release, "The Spider Web". Al-Malahim now releases more videos with English subtitles then al-Qaeda's as-Sahab.
Reporting and original source materials, to include al-Rimi's video, are contained in the IntelCenter Database (ICD). Alert notifications to email and cell phones for threat warnings such as this are available through FlashNet. IntelCenter has available similar analytical products on other groups and subjects. For more information, to schedule an online WebEx demo or to discuss how IntelCenter can assist with your needs, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 800-719-8750.
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