Homeland Security

Pick Up Five AK-47 Bullets for a Buck, al-Qaeda Magazine Tells Jihadists

A new English-language al-Qaeda magazine urges would-be jihadists to take advantage of the low price of bullets while instructing them how to avoid detection online.

The fourth edition of al-Risalah, which is published by al-Qaeda in Syria, features a full-page graphic of a grenade composed of typewriter keys with the quote, “Half of jihad is media.”

That’s attributed to Abdullah Azzam, Osama bin Laden’s late mentor and the co-founder of al-Qaeda and Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan.

(Facebook screenshot)

(Facebook screenshot)

And like other al-Qaeda media, al-Risalah encourages jihadists with features on current jihadi operations and how-to guides. It was posted on al-Qaeda Telegram channels and on a Facebook page that appeared to have been created just for the magazine’s promotion.

The profile picture was of a smiling jihadist holding up an American passport: Moner Mohammad Abusalha, a Floridian who died as a suicide bomber in Syria in 2014. The Facebook profile has since been removed.

A full-page graphic in the middle of the 24-page glossy magazine states, “You can buy 5 bullets for an AK47 assault rifle for less than $1.” Underneath this is a quote attibuted to Muhammad: “Whoever spends in the path of Allah, it would be multiplied for them 700 times.”

An article on steps to correctly use the Tor browser, which keeps a user’s browsing history and location anonymous, is bylined Kybernetiq, the name of a cyberwar magazine for jihadists launched a year ago. A new Twitter account named Kybernetiq — with the hashtag #WeAreNotISIS in the bio, along with “made in Bavaria” — advertises the al-Qaeda magazine and tweets in German.

(Al-Risalah magazine)

(Al-Risalah magazine)

“The Tor browser bundle designed by the Tor project is one of the most important devices in our defensive weapons arsenal,” the article states. “It covers and anonymizes our origin and makes us nearly invisible from being monitored; bypasses the firewalls and serves as a gateway to an uncensored internet. However using it negligently can expose and leave you vulnerable to e-incursions by the intelligence agencies,” the article states.

Tips for jihadis include making sure their plugins are constantly up to date, “always use English as default language,” avoiding JavaScript when possible, and avoiding add-ons like Adobe Flash.

They’re also warned against opening PDFs — the format in which jihadist magazines are posted online — while connected to the internet and cautioned to separate their daily life online activities from their jihadi life on the dark web, including using different usernames and passwords for each environment.

A 2010 quote from bin Laden is included: “Computer science is not our science and we are not the ones who invented it. I think that depending on encryption in sending secrets is a great risk. Encryption systems work with ordinary people (non-specialists), but not against those who developed [electronic communiqués] and the Internet. All sensitive communications should be done through couriers.”

Bin Laden was killed the next year; the U.S. said soon afterward that tracking his courier led them to his Pakistan hideout.

The magazine also includes a Q&A with al-Qaeda affiliate Ansar al-Islam in Kurdistan, who talked about being there at the beginning of the Islamic State and trying “to advise them regarding where they were heading and about the wrong path that they were taking.”

“Jihad includes a lot of violence, fighting and killing and therefore it requires people with great Sharia knowledge to lead it and keep it straight. This is missing in the leadership of (ISIS), and the effects thereof are many and varied,” the terror group said, adding that one of ISIS’ “biggest problems” is using former Ba’athist officers from Saddam Hussein’s era as military leaders.

“Some are good and have honest intentions, but most of them use Jihad as mask to do what they wish. Unfortunately, even the good ones amongst them don’t have enough [Islamic] knowledge to become leaders in Jihadi groups, and they understand Islam according to their desires, not as it truly is,” Ansar al-Islam continued. “…They consider everyone to be against them who works in other avenues [in the field of Jihad] or do not give bay’ah [allegiance] to them.”