Between 30 Jun. 2010 and 24 Dec. 2014, AQAP has published 13 issues of its English-language magazine, Inspire. In three of those issues, the 1st, 10th and 13th, thirteen individuals were named as targets for assassinations including Charlie Hebdo Editor-in-Chief Stephane Charbonnier. Of those 13 individuals, the nationality most targeted is US, accounting for 31% (4) followed by 23% (3) from Denmark, 15% (2) from the Netherlands and 8% (1) from France, the UK, Sweden and Egypt each. The profession most targeted is overwhelmingly journalists, accounting for 62% (8).
AQAP released the 1st issue of Inspire on 30 Jun. 2010, a little over a month after Molly Norris, a Seattle-based journalist, proclaimed 20 May 2010 was "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day". The issue focused on the controversy following the Sep. 2005 release of 12 cartoons mocking Islam and the prophet Mohammed. The cover story, “May Our Souls be Sacrificed For You” was written by US national and senior AQAP senior leader Anwar al-Awlaki. He referred to the cartoons as “Outrageous slander, blatant smearing of Mohammed desecration of the Koran, and the insulting of over a billion Muslims worldwide” which is “done under the pretext of ‘freedom of speech’.” Al-Awlaki identified Norris as a “a prime target of assassination along with others who participated in her campaign.” In reference to the media community involved with the cartoons al-Awlaki said, “The large number of participants makes it easier for us because there are more targets to choose from in addition to the difficulty of the government offering all of them special protection.” (ICD Threat ID #2227) Norris was also identified by name as a target in the 10th issue of Inspire, released on 1 Mar. 2013. She is the only individual to be named twice in two separate publications as an assassination target. She has since changed her name and gone into hiding.
The publication features a “Timeline of Events” beginning with the Sep. 2005 release of the 12 cartoons. The timeline includes a 24 Apr. 2006 statement from Osama bin Laden calling for the boycott of Danish products and punishing of the cartoonists and the 15 Sep. 2007 statement by Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) at the time, announcing a $100,000 bounty on the head of Swedish cartoonist Lars Viliks and Ulf Johansson, editor-in-chief of Swedish publication Nerikes Allehanda. (TC #2226)
The 10th issue of Inspire, “We are All Osama", was released on 1 Mar. 2013. One of the articles entitled, "Yes We Can: A Bullet A Day Keeps the Infidel Away, Defend Prophet Mohammed Peace Be Upon Him" displayed photos of nine men and names of two women under the heading "Wanted: Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam." (ICD Threat #2218)
The individuals are:
Carsten Luste, a Danish journalist
He was Editor-in-Chief of Danish publication Jyllands-Posten (from Jan. 2003 - Apr. 2008) when the publication released 12 cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed in Sep. 2005.
Terry Jones, US national, pastor of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida
He garnered worldwide attention in 2010 following his announcement of his plan to burn Korans on the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Kurt Westergaard, Danish cartoonist
He drew a cartoon depicting the prophet Mohammed wearing a bomb in his turban. It was considered the most controversial of the 12 cartoons released by Jyllands-Posten in Sep. 2005. On 12 Feb. 2008, Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) arrested two Tunisians and one Moroccan who were planning to assassinate Westergaard. On 1 Jan. 2010, a 28-year-old Somali Muslim, believed to be linked to al-Shabaab, entered Westergaard’s house with an ax and knife, he was shot and injured by police. Westergaard was in his panic room and unharmed.
Geert Wilders, Dutch politician, founder/leader of the Party for Freedom
He has campaigned to stop the “Islamization of the Netherlands” by ending immigration from Muslim companies. He supports banning construction of new mosques. He garnered worldwide attention following the release of his 2008 film, “Fitna” about his views on Islam which he summed up by saying "I don't hate Muslims, I hate Islam."
Lars Viliks, Swedish cartoonist
He released a series of controversial drawings in Jul. 2007 depicting the prophet Mohammed as a roundabout dog. Swedish publication Nerikes Allemande published one of them on 18 Aug. 2007. On 15 Sep 2007, an audio file released by man claiming to be Abu Omar al-Baghdadi from Islamic State of Iraq placing bounty of $100,000 on his head and $50,000 on head of Nerikes Allemande Editor-in-Chief Ulf Johansson. On 9 Mar. 2010, seven people were arrested in Ireland, suspected of planning to assassination of Viliks.
Stephane Charbonnier, French cartoonist and Editor-in-Chief of Charlie Hebdo
Charbonnier was killed during the attack on 7 Jan. 2015. He oversaw the publication of a Nov. 2011 spoof issue renamed "Charia Hebdo" that was “guest edited” by prophet Muhammad with the caption "100 lashes if you don't die of laughter." Following the release of the issue the publication's website was hacked and office damaged by a firebomb on 2 Nov. 2011. On 19 Sep. 2012, he ignored the French government’s warnings and went forward publishing cartoons showing naked prophet Mohammed. On 20 Sep. 2012, French embassies, consulates, cultural centers and schools in 20 countries were closed as a precautionary measure.
Flemming Rose, Danish journalist, cultural editor at Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten
He commissioned the series of 12 cartoons mocking the prophet Mohammed published in Jyllands-Posten on 30 Sep. 2005 that marked the beginning of the anti-Islam cartoon controversy.
Morris Swadiq, Egyptian-born Coptic Christian who now resides in the US, self-described human rights activist and President of National American Coptic Assembly
He garnered worldwide attention for promoting the video “Innocence of Muslims” that was released on 11 Sep. 2012. It depicted the prophet Mohammed as a vulgar, violent womanizer in the desert with a gang of thugs. The video has been blamed by some for sparking the violence that led to the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on 12 Sep. 2012.
Salman Rushdie, dual UK-Indian national, author
His 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” caused immediate controversy in Islamic world, seen as irreverent depiction of prophet Mohammed. On 14 Feb. 1989, Ayatollah Khomeini declared “fatwa” for Rushdie’s execution and violence was sparked worldwide including bombing of bookstores. On 3 Aug. 1989, Mustafa Mahmoud Mazeh from the Lebanese terror group, Organization of the Mujahideen of Islam, died when the book bomb he was preparing to target Rushdie with prematurely detonated at a hotel in Paddington, central London.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali born dual Somali-Dutch national, outspoken defender of women’s rights in Islamic societies, immigrated to Netherlands in 1992 and served as member of Dutch parliament from 2003 - 2006
She collaborated on the film, Submission, with Theo van Gogh, about oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures. Van Gogh was assassinated by Islamic extremists following the release of the movie.
Molly Norris, US national, Seattle-based journalist
She garnered worldwide attention when she proclaimed 20 May 2010 was "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." She was identified by name as a target for assassination in Inspire's first issue released in Jun. 2010. She has since changed her name and gone into hiding.
The 13th issue of Inspire, "Neurotmesis: Cutting the Nerves & Isolating the Head," was released on 24 Dec. 2014. The issue details AQAP's new strategy for targeting the US which centers around targeting civil aviation and "American Economy High Profile Targets". The article “Field Tactics: External Operations Reconnaissance Team” identifies two types of “American Economy High Profile Targets." The first is “Economic Personalities” which it says “are people who run the American economy. They are considered to be the great economic minds. It is not necessary for them to have a large capital.” It specifically cites Chairman of the US Federal Reserve, Ben Shalom Bernanke, as one of these targets, stating he is “one of the most important influential personalities in the stock markets and world economy.” The second target is “Wealthy Entrepreneurs or Company Owners” which it says “have the largest capitals, the greatest investors in America.” It specifically cites Chairman of Microsoft, William Henry “Bill” Gates saying “he has a great influence in the American economy.” It outlines three “Preparation Steps of the Operation":
1) Identify your target. Collect information about him and methods of meeting him, including occasions with the least security measures.
2) Move as close to him as possible, at least one metre from the target. Try to carry out the operation together with a hand shake or a hug.
3) If you are able to target him with a gun for example, then do not depend on the bomb. Because the circumstances behind using this bomb is tight security.
In the wake of the success of the Charlie Hebdo attack and murder of Stephane Charbonnier, there is a high threat of assassination attempts targeting these or similar individuals.
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