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Entries in Samir Khan (2)

Friday
Sep302011

American Jihadi Samir Khan Killed with Awlaki

Thinkstock/Comstock(SANA'A, Yemen) -- A young American who edited al Qaeda's English-language magazine, and had urged Muslims to mount deadly attacks on U.S. targets, was killed in the same CIA drone strike that eliminated Anwar Awlaki in Yemen Friday, U.S. officials said.

Khan, 25, was the Saudi-born, New York-raised editor behind Inspire magazine, the English language online publication of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP.  Khan had become a rising figure in jihadist propaganda and an "aspiring" Awlaki, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

But while Awlaki relied on sermons to recruit jihadis, Khan used sarcasm and idiomatic English in an attempt to appeal to Western youth.  As Khan himself has said, "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I [am] Al Qaeda to the core."  He titled a rebuke of toppled Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak "A Cold Diss."  Khan's ability to use American vernacular, like a graphic depicting graffiti that reads, "Jihad 4 Eva," had prompted concerns that young Muslims with an interest in jihad and al Qaeda would be drawn to a voice similar to their own.

"He does appear to be increasingly involved with operational activities [of Al Qaeda]", a U.S. official told ABC News in 2010.

British officials found copies of Inspire in the apartments of several suspects arrested and charged in connection to a bomb plot in the U.K.  Officials said the suspects were avid followers of both the magazine and Awlaki.

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a Somali-American college student charged with plotting an attack on a Christmas lighting event in Portland, Oregon, last year, was in contact with Khan, and wrote articles for him, authorities say.

Mohamud, who was arrested in an FBI sting, is accused of attempting to detonate what he believed to be a car bomb in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square via cellphone during the annual lighting of the Christmas tree, which had drawn a crowd of thousands. The FBI affidavit alleges that Mohamud told FBI agents that he had written four articles since 2009 for two different on-line jihadist magazines edited and distributed by Samir Khan.

Khan had edited seven separate issues of Inspire since launching the publication in 2010, penning such articles as "How To Build A Bomb In the Kitchen of Your Mom." Inspire carried sermons by Awlaki and other jihadi figures, boasted about the failed "printer bomb" cargo plane plot, and paid tribute to Osama bin Laden before and after his death. It outlined various techniques for jihadis to attack Americans within U.S. borders, including using pick-up trucks to mow down pedestrians, how to blow up buildings with natural gas, and how to use an AK-47 automatic rifle. The magazines grew in graphic sophistication with each issue, and Khan seemed to write, edit or design the majority of the content.

In the latest issue, which expressed frustration with Iran for spreading conspiracy theories about 9/11 instead of giving credit to al Qaeda, the editor-in-chief called himself "Yahya Ibrahim," but U.S. officials suspect that's just a pseudonym for Khan.

Khan was born in Saudi Arabia and raised from the age of seven in Queens, New York. He was a normal city teenager who listened to hip hop and wore baggy clothing.

Even before his family relocated to Charlotte, North Carolina in 2004, however, Khan had begun to take an interest in Islam. He ditched his baggy pants for jalabiyas, the long white robes traditionally favored by Saudis. He joined two Islamic groups, but neither espoused violence.

But with the move south, Khan took a turn towards radicalism. In 2004, after watching online videos of suicide bombers blowing themselves up at American military checkpoints in Iraq, Khan began to openly support Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and to express that support on-line.

In 2007, shortly after Osama bin Laden released a communiqué, The New York Times reported that Khan, who had launched a blog called "A Martyr, God Willing" in Arabic, praised the al Qaeda leader, and beseeching Americans to "take his message with great seriousness."

In one of his only interviews, Khan told The New York Times that his favorite online video showed a suicide bomber striking a US base in Iraq.

"It was something that brought great happiness to me," Khan said.

Khan spent years in his parents' Charlotte basement blogging, posting al Qaeda messages, and becoming increasingly radicalized by the war in Iraq. His blog's popularity rose as his rhetoric became more extreme.

In 2009, he started a precursor to Inspire called Jihad Recollections, saying, "We have decided to take it upon ourselves to produce the first jihadi magazine in English." In the third issue, amidst calls for jihad and attacks against non-Muslims, Khan devoted space to a gushing review of a product dear to the hearts of American jihadis and infidels alike, Apple's iPhone 3. According to Khan, iPhone was "quickly becoming a standard as opposed to just another phone. With over 35,000 applications available, it becomes a joke when we hear about the so-called 'iPhone killers'."

According to Oren Segal, a researcher at the Anti-Defamation League who has followed Khan's online rhetoric since 2004, Khan left the U.S. for Yemen in October 2009, which is around the time the fourth and final issue of Jihad Recollections appeared. In Yemen, he launched Inspire, and after his arrival in Yemen, say U.S. authorities, his online efforts had been in conjunction with AQAP.

Inspire's second edition, which was published before the October 2010 printer bomb attempt and included Khan's claim to be "Al Qaeda to the core," featured a photo of the Chicago skyline, which U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials think was a tip-off of the terror group's intention to address the bombs to Jewish targets in Chicago.

"He's a model of what Americans can do in the propaganda sphere," said Segal.  "He's what's next.  His message resonates and appeals to Western audiences."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct112010

U.S. Citizen and Creator of Al Qaeda English-Language Magazine Proud to be a Traitor

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula has released a second issue of their online English-language magazine called Inspire, which U.S. officials say is designed to incite and recruit Western extremists to undertake terrorist activity and attacks.  The magazine’s second issue includes an article from Samir Khan, an American citizen from North Carolina who left for Yemen last year and is believed by U.S. officials to be the creator of the magazine, which is a collection of articles on conducting attacks and messages from terrorist leaders. 

The latest issue includes articles allegedly penned by Osama Bin Laden and radical Yemeni-American cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, who has become a prominent member of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group that has claimed responsibility for the failed Christmas Day bombing of Northwest flight 253.

Khan was born in Saudi Arabia but grew up in New York and eventually moved to North Carolina, where he was known for operating a handful of websites from his parents' basement, including one that had praised Osama Bin Laden and showed footage of attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.  Khan’s websites had been shut down at times. 

In an article titled “I Am Proud To Be a Traitor to America," Khan writes about becoming a traitor and leaving the U.S. He writes, “I praise Allah and laugh at the intelligence agencies that were watching me for all those years. Back in North Carolina, the FBI dispatched a spy on me who pretended to convert to Islam.” Khan notes that he is “Al Qaeda to the core…[and] could no longer reside in America as a compliant citizen."

Copies of the second issue of Inspire were first reported and found by researchers with the Washington D.C.- based Middle East Media Research Institute.

The online magazine is another telling example of the vast amount of terrorism-related propaganda that is floating around on the Internet.  Last year, the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence estimated that there were as many as 15,000 websites and Web forums that were supportive of terrorist activities, and that about 80 percent of those sites existed on U.S.-based computer servers.  U.S. counterterrorism and intelligence analysts remain concerned about the spread of Internet propaganda and its ability to possibly incite violence.

Last month, FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before Congress, “The Internet has expanded as a platform for spreading extremist propaganda, a tool for online recruiting and a medium for social networking with like-minded extremists.  And this has contributed to the threat from homegrown radicalization in the United States.”

The magazine has several news items on the controversy over the placement of an Islamic Center near Ground Zero as well as the controversial Pastor Terry Jones, whose plan to burn Korans on September 11th prompted widespread outrage both in the U.S. and in the Muslim world before he ultimately decided against it. The magazine says the issue of the Islamic center “reveals to us the religious discrimination that exists in America.” Regarding the Jones controversy, the magazine notes, “The Qur’an burning event led by Terry Jones teaches us the crookedness of U.S. laws, specifically the first amendment on the freedom of speech.  It reveals that its law is a crime to billions of people who share the same planet.”

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI issued an intelligence note after the first issue of Inspire was published online.  DHS and the FBI noted they were concerned “that the sophisticated, colloquial English-language magazine could appeal to certain Western individuals and inspire them to conduct attacks in the United States in the future.”

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

“I Am Proud To Be a Traitor to America.”






ABC News Radio