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Al Qaeda Airlines Magazine': The Most Disturbingly Clinical Guide to Jihad You'll See


"...devotes much attention to the explosives used in each attack, describing their various merits and advantages."

The disturbingly innocuous cover

"Al Qaeda Airlines Magazine." The name sounds like a bad joke from Saturday Night Live. You can almost imagine Seth Meyers dressed in a fake Jihadi uniform, sitting on a plane, reading the first issue, while a faux-Arab accented voice over makes terrible puns.

But as it turns out, this concept is no joke, and the real Al Qaeda Airlines Magazine is anything but funny. The magazine, which is published by online terrorist writer Abdallah Dhu Al-Bajadin and disseminated online as a PDF, is now on its second issue. And much as you might expect from a magazine published by terrorists for terrorists, its subject matter is confined entirely to maximizing the effectiveness of terrorism. Indeed, based on scans of the second issue obtained by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), the thing appears to be a serialized "how-to" guide for would-be mass murderers in the name of Islamic Jihad.

According to MEMRI's report on the magazine, the second issue is broken into two sections - one analyzing past Al Qaeda attacks as a learning exercise in avoiding mistakes, and the other functioning as a guide to making homemade explosives. Of the section analyzing past Al Qaeda attacks, MEMRI says this:

Dhu Al-Bajadin identifies two stages in Al-Qaeda's attacks on Western targets since the 9/11 attacks: the first wave, he says, consisted of large-scale bombings such as the Bali, Madrid and London bombings, and other bombing attempts including that of shoe-bomber Richard Reid. The second wave consisted of bombing attempts carried out by AQAP since 2009.

Dhu Al-Bajadin provides a summary of each attack in both English and Arabic, accompanied by illustrations; photos of the Al-Qaeda attackers, cell members and scenes of the attacks; and every detail or diagram he was able to find about the attacks on Wikipedia or in press reports. He then goes on to list the merits of the methods used in each attack, such as the type of explosive used, the various tactics employed by cell members etc.

He also lists the mistakes made by the perpetrators of the attacks, as he sees them. For example, regarding Richard Reid's attempt to bomb an aircraft using a shoe-bomb, Dhu Al-Bajadin discusses the use of a powerful explosive PETN (pentaerythritol trinitrate), and the innovative manner in which the explosives were concealed. He also notes Reid's conspicuous attire and the fact that he had worn his shoes for a long period of time prior to boarding the aircraft he planned to bomb as aspects that led to the failure of his attack.

As you can see, this analysis is detached to the point of being clinical, almost as if teaching the reader to do something as mundane as unclogging a toilet, rather than cause the deaths of thousands. It is emblematic of a movement that clearly sees nothing whatsoever wrong with what it is doing, but that instead takes its moral rectitude for granted.

Things get more chilling still when you get to the section describing the process of making homemade explosives and toxins. To begin with, there are photos like the one below, showing how to make the explosive pentaerythritol trinitrate (PETN):

And then this description of the section from MEMRI:

Dhu Al-Bajadin devotes much attention to the explosives used in each attack, describing their various merits and advantages. He devotes a large segment of the magazine to PETN, providing explanations about the explosive as well as a guide to manufacturing it, replete with diagrams, quantities and illustrations. The explanations are mostly in English, with some in Arabic.

Another "how to" section in the magazine provides a guide to producing acetone peroxide, copied out of an explosives-manufacturing manual written by Al-Qaeda explosives expert Abu Khabab Al-Masri.[2] This guide is likewise accompanied by illustrations and diagrams.

Again, note the owners' manual style of this otherwise highly disturbing instructional section.

However, hard as it may seem to believe, there may be a bright side to this. If Al Qaeda's means of publicizing chemical creation is through the publication of internet PDF "magazines" so easily downloaded that even think tanks can get ahold of them, this says nothing good about their concept of cybersecurity. Unfortunately, the danger of this kind of distribution is even more clear - having the recipes for explosives go viral can only end in those explosives being misused.

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