In online journal, al Qaeda pushes ‘lone-wolf’ attacks

Jihad abroad discouraged

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Mr. Fishman added that this was not the first time al Qaeda propagandists had urged lone-wolf attacks, nor the first time they had cautioned recruits not to try to join up with groups abroad. “Al Qaeda has been trying to inspire these kind of lone-wolf attacks for years,” he said.

He noted that Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a second-tier leader of al Qaeda’s central group based on the Afghan-Pakistan border, recently posted a statement on extremist websites urging recruits not to try to come to Pakistan.

“He said, in effect, ‘fight where you are … the conditions are not right [here]. … We are unable to train and use you effectively,’” Mr. Fishman said.

“There is always this tension in jihadist propaganda,” Mr. Fishman said, adding that recruiters know that “the romance and camaraderie of battle” is a big draw for would-be extremists.

A recent recruitment manual, written under the pen name Abu Amro Alqaidi, noted, “It’s a lot harder to get someone to act alone where they are then to get them to travel abroad,” Mr. Fishman pointed out. But at the same time, “they are wary of bringing people in … they might be spies.”

The would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shazad, reportedly told investigators that when he tried to volunteer with extremist groups in Pakistan, they thought he was a spy.

Mr. Fishman said there are other problems with absorbing so-called “walk-in” recruits from Western countries.

“They don’t want to have to baby-sit people,” he said of extremist groups involved in insurgencies. “Even if they aren’t spies, such recruits can be a security liability. … They don’t speak the local language; they don’t know how to get around. … They aren’t trained or tough.”

This tension is evident in the magazine. After noting the dangers of being apprehended while traveling to try to join up overseas, the author states, “even if traveling to join the fronts of jihad was accessible and easy, we would still encourage [recruits] to perform operations in the West. To kill a snake, strike its head.”

U.S. officials from several agencies declined to respond directly to the magazine’s call for attacks.

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