Boston Marathon bombs: al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine taught pressure cooker bomb-making techniques
A recipe for how to make pressure cooker bombs, which investigators say were used in the Boston Marathon attack
April 16, 2013
The recipe – along with a rationale for post-9/11 terror – was printed three years ago in al-Qaeda’s English-language promotional online magazine, Inspire.
In an article, it instructed readers on how, as its headline writers put it, to “Make a bomb in the kitchen of your Mom”.
It gave the types of explosive, timers and other ingredients needed – along with, it said, a pressure cooker.
In fact, most analysts remain convinced it was the brainchild of Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American propagandist for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and was edited by Samir Khan, another American citizen who had travelled to Yemen to join the group.
It was clear in its market – the disaffected young men in their mid-twenties, whether converts or of Muslim origin, who studies show are by far and away the biggest source of recruits to the jihadist cause.
Subsequent editions suggested even more random forms of violence that anyone could carry out, such as driving a car into crowds as a weapon. The aim was to cause maximum response with a minimum of fuss.
Its methodology was in some ways a sign of weakness, an acknowledgement that well-planned, large scale attacks on the scale of 9/11, or for that matter the Oklahoma outrage by a white supremacist, were unlikely to be repeated because of increased security and the erosion of al-Qaeda’s command structure by drone strikes.
Other “spectaculars” had failed, such as the attempt to down an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day 2009 by the so-called “underpants bomber”, an Awlaki recruit of Nigerian origin, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.
By contrast, smaller scale random attacks had notable success: most strikingly, before Inspire’s first edition but clearly an incident its authors had in mind, Nidal Malik Hasan, the US army major who shot 13 people dead at his base at Fort Hood, Texas, had been in direct contact with Awlaki.
As new editions appeared, investigators took Inspire ever more seriously.
A disaffected US army private, Naser Jason Abdo, jailed for life in August 2012 after being found in possession of a bomb with which he said he was going to blow up a restaurant popular with soldiers from Fort Hood in an act of solidarity with Hasan, had a copy of the Inspire article.
In his hotel room were all the ingredients listed, including two pressure cookers.