The U.S. State Department announced that nineteen embassies will remained closed this week because of a “specific” and “serious” terrorist threat from an al-Qaeda affiliate.
Al-Qaeda, which is Arabic for “the Base” was founded in the late 1980s by Osama bin Laden. It grew out of a clearinghouse for the international Muslim brigade, called the Services Office that opposed the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Bin Laden and Palestinian religious scholar Abdullah Azzam recruited and trained thousands of “holy warriors” from more than fifty countries to fight in Afghanistan. After the 1988 Soviet pledge to withdraw troops from the nation, bin Laden created al-Qaeda.
Al-Qaeda does not have a single, central headquarters. The U.S. government reports the organization has a worldwide presence consisting of at least several thousand members and associates from as many as 100 nations. Al-Qaeda cells have been found in the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, Albania, Uganda and other nations.
Al-Qaeda is also affiliated with other “like-minded” terrorist organizations located in nations such as Egypt, Libya, Uzbekistan, Algeria, Kashmir, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia, along with Al-Qaeda groups in the Arabian Peninsula, Iraq and the Islamic Maghreb. Intelligence experts also believe al-Qaeda cooperates on logistics and training with Hezbollah, a radical, Shiite, Iran-based terrorist group. Al-Qaeda training camps have been located in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Kenya and Sudan.
Terror attacks linked to Al-Qaeda include:
- August 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania (killed 301 and injured 5,000)
- October 2000 attack on the USS Cole (killed 17 and injured 39)
- September 11, 2001 attacks in NY, DC and Pennsylvania (killed 2,996 and injured over 6,000)
- April 2002 bombing in Tunisia (killed 19 and injured 22)
- October 2002 attack on French tanker, MV Limburg near Yemen (killed 1 and injured 4)
- October 2002 attack on U.S. military personnel in Kuwait (killed 1)
- October 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali, Indonesia that (killed 202 and injured 209)
- November 2002 hotel bombing in Mombasa, Kenya (killed 15 and injured 40)
- May 2003 bombing of compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (killed 36 and injured 160)
- May 2003 bombings in Casablanca, Morocco (killed 41 and injured 101)
- August 2003 bombing of the J.W. Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia (killed 17 and injured 137)
- November 2003 truck bombing of a Riyadh housing complex (killed 17 and injured 122)
- November 2003 bombings of two Turkish synagogues (killed 23 and injured 200)
- November 2003 Istanbul bombings of the British Consulate and HSBC Bank (killed 27 and 455 injured)
- March 2004 bomb attacks on Madrid commuter trains (killed 191 and injured 2050)
- July 2005 bombing in London (killed 56 and injured approximately 700)
- February 2006 attack on Abqaiq petroleum processing facility in Saudi Arabia (4 killed)
- December 2009 attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound Northwest Airlines flight
The al-Qaeda affiliate in the Arabian Peninsula reportedly is the group that publishes Inspire Magazine, an online English magazine used to spread al-Qaeda’s message and methods. The first issue appeared in July of 2010, and the latest issue released in May 2013 claims it was the inspiration for the Boston Marathon bombing.
In a 2012 issue of Inspire, Australia was named as a prime target for terrorism. The magazine contained instructions to build an “ember bomb” saying it was the best way to start destructive fires and detailed the best times of the year to begin fires in different parts of Australia.
Prior to the Boston Marathon bombings the “Lone Mujahid Pocketbook” was released online that said its contents were collected from Inspire Magazine Issues 1-10. Included in this publication were instructions on how to torch parked vehicles, cause road accidents, start forest fires, destroy buildings, and make bombs including using iron pipes, pressure cookers, fire extinguishers and empty propane canisters.
The Washington Post reported Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (Boston Marathon bombing) told investigators that he and his brother learned to make pressure cooker bombs from the online magazine. He also claims he was inspired by online sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki, editor of the magazine until he was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. The latest issue of the magazine also has an article about the beheading of British soldier, Lee Rigby calling the act “the dear price” of Western oppression, and a small article about the Oklahoma tornadoes calling them “divine wrath.”
In one of the most recent cases of an “al-Qaeda inspired” plot, two people were arrested in Canada for attempting to detonate three pressure-cooker bombs at a Canada Day event on July 1. Authorities do not believe they had any personal ties to al-Qaeda, however with the easy availability of Inspire Magazine, potential Jihadis are easily inspired and equipped by the organization through a virtual relationship.
Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have been directly responsible for nearly 4,000 deaths since 1998, however many attempts by terrorists have been stopped. Thank God for his protection over our nations. Pray that He will continue to expose the terrorist and their threats before they are able to carry through with their plans.
Pray for law enforcement around the world – that they will not grow weary in their quest to stop attacks, that they will be supported in their efforts and be properly trained to understand the ideology behind groups such as al-Qaeda.
Pray that Christians will remain ever vigilant in prayer even after seasons such as Ramadan and the Night of Power are over so that even if the authorities do not announce a “specific” and “serious” threat, the intercessors will be aware and ready to intercede.
Ask God to reach the hearts of the terrorists with His love and conviction and give them a desire for a different way of life through Christ.