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Al Qaeda’s Blueprint For How To Start a Homegrown Terror Franchise

This 15-page document outlines how to form homegrown terror cells.

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You, too, can have your own terror cell. All you have to do is follow these steps. Some are simple, some are more difficult, but the result — dead Americans — is worth the effort.

That’s the message in a 15-page document discovered in Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. It’s called “Terror Franchise: The UNSTOPPABLE ASSASSINS, TECHS Vital role for its success.” In it, al Qaeda’s senior planner Abu-Salih al Somali describes how to form an al Qaeda cell on American or European soil. All capitalizations reflect the original document.

It’s undated, but, if Somali is the author, it had to be written in the summer of 2009 (it mentions a video of accused American deserter Bowe Bergdahl, who disappeared in June 2009, and Somali was killed in August of the same year). It provides an eerie glimpse into how the core of al Qaeda tried to build autonomous cells around the world, and how these cells can most effectively get into the terror business.

The call-to-arms is specifically tailored to “Muslims with scientific and technical backgrounds.” It opens with a nine-page missive on why they need to strike at America and its allies.

“Here is how YOU CAN easily, safely and anonymously engrave your name in history by assisting us with the KNOWLIDGE [sic] and KNOW-HOW of how to counter Islam’s enemies’ technology-especially (Laser guided weapons), and how to be able to make death, in its explosions form- especially (the Oxidizer part of it) and toxicants in an easy, practical and improvised way anywhere on earth,” Somali writes, noting his “heart beats in excitement” as he pens the screed.

He then begins his pitch.

“Yes YOU, CAN- Allah willing-change history right there from your home town, under the cool air of your air conditioner, safe and sound away from any danger or fear.. I am not joking!!”

The next six pages are a long litany of al Qaeda’s grievances against the West, along with boasts of successful operations in New York (9/11) Spain (a 2004 train bombing) and London (an attack on public transportation in 2005). He said the goal of the terror cell is to kill “tens, or hundreds or thousands of the infidel citizens of America and its western ally countries in their homelands and wherever they are sited on any spot on the planet.”

Somali, in a section titled “Simple, BUT DEADLY,” writes he is trying to build a network of “completely disconnected, invisible, infinite taskforces [sic].”

“Contrary to what the western media keeps on signing on their media, Terror franchises and taskforces DO NOT need neither nuclear bombs nor radio active [sic] material (even though it would be nice to have) to achieve their goal!!,” he writes, noting a few grams of cyanide or ricin can do the trick.

Somali then outlines how to actually form a terror cell. First, members must research chemicals that could be used in an attack. Then, once the research is done, “even more important part is actually performing the procedures (synthesis, assembly etc) and explaining it in an easy (step by step, foolproof) practical manner on video (preferred) and-or PDF format document and any other media used in the civilian arena such as Flash, PowerPoint etc.”

Then, in a section called “Point to bear in mind,” he list a series of potential pitfalls and some advice. It includes:

“The researcher should be careful of falling into hindering; achievement blocking traps such hesitation, procrastination, undermining oneself, just do it, begin the first line and the rest will just flow and you’ll enjoy it. Trust me.”

“Include a lot of illustrations, pictures, sources, etc. Try to be persuasive and encouraging.”

“If for some reason (hopefully not) the research wouldn’t be followed up with the actual explained application, then at least the research should be suitably propagated, so it could be built upon and completed by others.”

Somali then details what is needed immediately by the cell: sulfuric acid, oxidizers for bombs, and other chemicals. Toxins necessary are ricin and cyanide; he tells potential jihadis to test their effectiveness on rabbits. Next, they’ll need rocketry, or “flying death,” as Somali calls it. Electronic jamming equipment, timers, launching pads and material to forge documents are also recommended.

“Big goals need BIG teamwork,” Somali notes.

He urges new cells to study how marketing firms use social media to spread their messages. “It is all about winning attention!” He adds, “Innovate…DO IT!”

Somali then sends his would-be jihadist on their way with this message:

“With these words YOU have received your mission, it’s your honor, your Ummah, your dignity, your destiny, your religion, your family, your life, your chance….Don’t wait!! Make a DIFFRENCE[sic]!!!You can…you will succeed… Allah is with us.”

Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Said Khatib/AFP

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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