On June 29, 2021, Al-Malahem, the media arm of the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), released the first issue of its Inspire magazine since 2017.
This issue of the magazine, titled “Praise and Guidance,” praised the Colorado shooter Ahmad Al-Aliwi Al-Issa, perpetrator of the March 22, 2021 mass shooting at a King Soopers supermarket in Boulder, Colorado in which 10 people were killed. It referred to Al-Issa as a mujahid – a jihad fighter – and went on to call on Muslims to target “the American enemy” inside and outside the U.S.
In the issue, AQAP stressed that waging jihad against the U.S. is a religious duty incumbent upon all Muslims “with strength and ability, until the U.S. stops its oppression against Muslims, stop supporting the occupier Jews who are oppressing our brothers in Palestine, and stop all its intervention in Muslim countries.”
After noting that all Muslims around the world, regardless of nationality, share responsibility for waging jihad against the U.S., AQAP congratulated the Muslim ummah and praised Al-Issa, mentioning that he was a Syrian national. It also called on Muslims in the U.S. and other countries to “follow his path in carrying out attacks against the American enemy, whether inside its homeland, which is preferred, or outside.”
AQAP then noted that Al-Issa had shared social media posts expressing concern for the plight of Muslims in Syria. It also mentioned that U.S. Congressman Madison Cawthorn stated in an interview on Fox News that Al- Issa carried out his attack to avenge U.S. airstrikes in Syria and that President Biden is to blame because of his policies in Syria.
AQAP also said that some of Al-Issa’s social media posts were “Islamic” and added that “he follows the ummah’s issues.” This includes a May 2019 post in Arabic in which he wrote: “So Mary wears a hijab and jesus doesn’t eat pork and prays on his knees and hands. There both Muslims it’s obvious.” In another post, Inspire claimed, Al-Issa wrote: “Muslims may not be perfect but Islam is.”
Detailing the attack, the magazine highlighted that the “mujahid” bought an AR-15 rifle legally and on March 22, headed to a crowded King Soopers in Boulder, Colorado at 3 p.m. The mujahid then killed three Americans outside the store and six others inside and wounded an officer who responded to the attack.
Summing up the results of the attack, the magazine stated that 10 “white Americans, including an officer” were killed and the supermarket was closed. It added that the attack “deepened the division among the American people, among right and left and among Republicans and their supporters and Democrats and their supporters.” Explaining this point, the magazine stated that the right used the attack as a pretext to criticize the left, since those targeted were “white and Anglo-Saxon,” as when the left used Asian Americans as a pretext to criticize the right. The magazine also highlighted that the right supports gun ownership and the attack revived debates about the spread of guns in America, prompting Biden to call for gun reform.
The magazine further noted that the operation had saddened Americans, highlighting Biden’s statement that “10 lives have been lost, and more families have been shattered by gun violence in the state of Colorado […] I just can’t imagine how the families are feeling – the victims whose futures were stolen from them, from their families, from their loved ones.” Addressing the U.S. president, the magazine stated: “We tell Biden that the feelings of the families of victims and their loved ones in America are the same feelings of the families of the victims of the American interventions represented in bombings and special operations in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, and other places. Now you can imagine such feelings too.”
Celebrating Al-Issa’s attack, the magazine noted that the situation in the U.S. today is similar to the situation in unstable areas in Muslim countries which have conflicts and killings, as the U.S. is witnessing daily shooting attacks. Moreover, the magazine stressed that Al-Issa’s operation increases anxiety and panic among Americans.
Inspire praised Al-Issa for his choice of weapon, location, and target and the “surprising” timing of his operation.
The issue also included a series of instructions for lone wolves to carry out an improved version of Al-Issa’s attack.
“Try to always choose a location where it is hard for those gathered to find shelter, hide, or escape. Do this to ensure that the largest number of people are killed,” said the magazine, before adding that a lone wolf preparing for the operation should be ready and determined to engage in clashes with the “police or the enemy” and to never surrender.
“For that, make sure that you have enough ammunition,” it recommended.
It went on to say: “Give your attack a destructive or explosive mark by manufacturing your own IEDs, using instructions listed in Inspire magazine, or preparing bottle bombs, known as Molotov cocktails. Take them [the explosives] with you to set a fire in the location of the attack. Take match boxes or a lighter and explosive material to burn the place. This will double the impact of the operation on the enemy economically, psychologically, and media-wise.”
“Fourth, take advantage of the availability of weapons and the ease of possession in America. Carry out a jihadi operation using them. It is very difficult and unlikely that weapons possession will be restricted in America. This would only require you to look online or in a weapons store about what it would take to obtain a legal license to acquire a weapon and to buy it. Choose rifles,” it added.
The magazine further suggested that if a lone wolf fails to purchase a weapon legally, he should look to the black market or assemble homemade firearms known as “ghost guns.” It explained that such weapons are less easily detected by authorities and therefore easier to obtain. It also noted that ghost guns have no serial numbers.