Al Qaeda’s Chief Bomb Maker Calls for Attacks on U.S. Train Transport Systems

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An article by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) chief bomb maker, Ibrahim Al-Asiri, in Issue 17 of the organization’s magazine Inspire, titled “Targeting Means of Transportation,” calls to target American transport systems (ground, air and sea transportation for both passengers and freight), stressing that they are a prime target because attacks on them undermine public security and also cause great economic harm by scaring away tourists and investors. Moreover, says the article, such attacks are easy even for lone operatives to carry out, since there are many targets and the security measure around them are easily overcome.[1]

It should be noted that the article was apparently written during Barack Obama’s presidency, because Al-Asiri refers to him and his policies and does not mention President Trump.


Following are excerpts from the article:

Al-Asiri begins by condemning the U.S. for its attempt to export its values. He especially mentions the affirmation of gay rights, and the celebration of these by president Obama’s administration: “America started spreading its culture and ideals across the globe via the mass media, press and the internet. Sugar-coating these values with attractive names such as justice, freedom and equality, in order to make them much more appealing to people. But, as the days pass and through globalization itself, the reality of these values were exposed. What was once being propagated as ‘good values’ in the media became apparent to all; thanks to globalization itself. America’s justice was exposed in Afghanistan, Iraq and other areas where masses of innocent people were killed because of its ‘justice’. Another face of America’s morals and values revealed itself in the form of laws legislated to legalize sexual deviation as a proud American value. When a president comes out joyfully to proudly legislate these perversions, lighting up the walls of the Whitehouse with their perverted rainbow symbols indicating that they have adopted these morals. This collapse in morals and values, which is generally rejected in nature, all religions and denied by medical doctors and psychologists; has exposed the concealed nature of globalization and the reality of American democratic values.”

Al-Asiri goes on to say that AQAP intends to target the U.S. security, which is the weak link in the chain of U.S. dominance. Undermining security is relatively easy for lone jihadis, he says: “As for us, we will be focusing on targeting means of transportation. We will explain more on this, which is part of the general policy of targeting the ring of security in the chain… When referring to transportation we refer to air, sea and ground transportation – both local and international. Jihad groups and organizations may have the ability to target international means of transportation. As for the Lone Mujahid, his abilities may be limited to targeting internal means of transportation of a country. And it is possible for him to draw a comprehensive plan so as to execute such kind of operations…”

He goes on to stress the importance of trains in the U.S., especially freight trains: “In America, trains are considered to be among the most important means of transportation within the country i.e. between cities and its outskirts, and from one city to another, especially when transporting freight. Normal busses, trams and trolley busses are used in Europe and America for transportation within the cities and its outskirts. All these means of transportation indicate that the world and the civilian life are very dependant on them. And what becomes apparent is that it is too difficult to protect these means of transportation. And here is where we find its vulnerability – means of transportation today are considered to be a weak point which we must focus on…”

Al-Asiri points out that attacks on public transportation can be done in three ways: by targeting the vehicle itself; its route or track; and its stations, terminals or transit points. He goes on to explain the effects of such attacks, first and foremost causing terror among the population:

“The following are the effects and consequences caused by targeting means of transportation, either directly or indirectly: 1. There will be a state of terror, fear and lack of security among the masses. And this is because of: a. The targeted areas are public infrastructure, used by people from all classes and walks of life at all times. The daily routine surrounding it makes it impossible to be rid of. b. The large numbers and numerous types of means of transportation will always set an environment of looming danger everywhere. c. Difficult to cover all security loopholes. Doing so will mean halting all the necessary daily civilian activities, such procedures might be the same as security measures placed during pandemics. d. The existence of tough security measures in all public arenas and the transportation sector increases the feeling of insecurity and fear among the people. This is because in cases of emergency and increased searches, security officers deal with people in a manner that make them feel a sense of danger and therefore makes them respond to these tough procedures placed by the government by being extra cautious and take quick precautions to inform the government in cases of any real threat. It is no doubt that all these create an environment of fear.

2. These operations will damage the security of the economy by directly exhausting the economy. Here are some important points that explain the causes of the exhaustion of the economy. a. The security measures that would be placed so as to cover the loophole which allowed an operation to succeed in the first place. These measures include increase in security forces and labor hours, purchasing sophisticated equipment, establishing new special units to specifically face these threats and reinforcing counter intelligence efforts to disrupt any attempt of another attack whatsoever. b. Insurance companies increase their rates with the increase in risk. c. Loss incurred in the target vehicle itself (Train, airplane etc.), E.g. The cost of a single plane is millions of dollars. d. Some transport companies may get into bankruptcy if targeted regularly and are unable to secure themselves, this will make people seize using such a company for their transportation needs. These are the most important consequences that may accompany these kind of operations.”

The article lists the following advantages of targeting transport systems: ” 1. Means of transportation have extensive and multiple targets that are widespread and open to access with varying degree of security, increasing the opportunity for a successful operation. 2. The capability to infiltrate the security measures placed by all means of transportation. With little resources, it is possible to achieve great results, this is, if the operations is well executed and planned. 3. The results of these kind [sic] of operations are disastrous to the economy, especially if they occur regularly. 4. Gives the Lone Mujahid the ability to carry out a large scale operation using these types of small resourced operations. 5. It is difficult for the authorities to secure all security loopholes in these operations. 6. The ability to use different kinds of weapons, and ways to subdue the enemy according to the conditions and circumstances at hand.”

Al-Asiri concludes by calling on Al-Qaeda followers and “mujahideen” to target America: “After this quick review, in which we show the importance of focusing on specific kinds of targets, I urge my Mujahideen brothers everywhere, especially the Lone Jihad heroes; I say to them: Target America, by Allah they are in a great predicament. They cannot get out of it and cannot find real solutions to its problems beyond its borders. We see them laying alternative plans to their wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places; making alliances after being unable to fight the war all alone. This state of weakness appears clearly in one of Obama’s speeches, in which he said ‘globalization is still standing’. Trying to imply that America is still a dominant power. What makes Obama declare this is the weakness that is overshadowing America. The U.S. laid a fifteen-year plan in which it raised the debt, lowered interest rates and reduced military expenditure, which will continue for many years to come. America today is refreshing its efforts to revive its economy. And we should continue to focus our efforts against it until the world gets rid of this international system led by America, and until Muslims enjoy freedom to practice their faith, freedom to apply the Laws of Allah and until Muslims secure themselves, wealth and resources from the hands of America.”

[1] Source:, August 13, 2017.

EDITORS NOTE: To media and government: For a full copy of this issue of Inspire magazine or the other reports from this issue, send an email with “Inspire magazine”or the title of the report requested in the subject line to Please include your name, title, and organization in your email.

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