Thursday, April 18, 2013

Chatter In Jihadi Forums On Boston Marathon Attacks: Jubilation Mixed With Calls For Restraint


Following the April 15, 2013 bombing near the finish line at the Boston Marathon, in which three died and over 170 were wounded, online jihadis who frequent top Al-Qaeda forums expressed their jubilation about the attack. However, these reactions have been mixed with calls for restraint until further details about the attack and its perpetrators emerge. Jihadis have previously expressed similar sentiments in response to disasters hitting the U.S.; for example, in October 2013, they celebrated the devastation wreaked by Hurricane Sandy.[1]

Stressing Connection To AQAP Inspire Magazine, Posting Graphic Images

With media attention increasingly focusing on a possible connection between the Boston attack and Inspire, the English-language online magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) – specifically on various articles with instructions on the home manufacture of IEDs in issues of the magazine – some jihadis also stressed such a connection. One wrote on the Shumoukh Al-Islam forum that even if it turns out that Al-Qaeda (i.e. AQAP) was not behind the attack, the mere possibility that someone out there might have used information from Inspire to carry it out the attack is itself an achievement for Al-Qaeda. He went on to consider what would happen if similar IEDs were to be placed in stadiums and movie theaters.[2]

Expressing Jubilation

Another jihadi on Shumoukh, "Turkestan1," posted graphic images of the aftermath of the Boston bombing, including one of a young man with both legs blown off being rushed from the scene; on this image, he commented, "Best image from Boston explosions."[3]
On the Ansar Al-Mujahideen English Forum (AMEF), jihadis welcomed the attack, calling it "great news," and prayed that it was "the result of planning from our Mujahideen and Ansaar [i.e. supporters]."[4]

Urging Restraint, Measuring The Success Of An Attack

On the other hand, some jihadis urged fellow jihadi forum members to show restraint and to refrain from disseminating their own theories as to the elements behind the attack until all details emerged. On Al-Fida', for example, one member using the name "Bahith2" said that even though no entity or individual had so far claimed responsibility, the attack is in line with Al-Qaeda's strategy of using smaller, frequent attacks against the U.S. This so-called "thousand wounds" strategy – a term which, he said, was mentioned in Inspire magazine – forces an ever-increasing financial burden on the U.S. as it attempts to prevent and detect future attacks. This burden, he said, will eventually lead to the U.S.'s collapse. 

Commenting on the attack's low casualty figures, Bahith2 said that such numbers should not be the measure of its success – but that success should be measured by the extent of the resulting fear spreading amongst the local populace, in addition to the aforementioned financial and economic ramifications. 

Bahith2 also urged forum members who support the Al-Qaeda "thousand wounds" strategy to watch Al-Qaeda's 2011 two-part video series emphasizing and encouraging lone-wolf attacks in the West.[5]
Concluding his post, Bahith2 asked jihadis not to attribute the Boston attack to any element for now, and to wait until all details of the attack are revealed.[6]

Bathit2's post on Al-Fida'



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