By Greg Miller
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 12, 2010; 5:52 PM
Al-Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen urges followers to strike U.S. targets, including restaurants in Washington, in a new edition of an English-language publication that the group posts online.
In a section that suggests ideas for attacks inside the United States, the publication says that using firearms to carry out "a random hit at a crowded restaurant in Washington D.C. at lunch hour for example might end up knocking out a few government employees" and attracting widespread news media attention.
U.S. counterterrorism officials said they were taking the threat seriously. "When specific locations are mentioned as possible targets, that's always a concern," said a U.S. counterterrorism official. "This terrorist publication is filled with the kind of hatred you see in other extremist propaganda."
Militant groups have long used the Internet to distribute information on targets and methods of attack. But al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, as the Yemen-based offshoot is known, is a source of particular concern because of its ties to previous strikes on U.S. soil, including a deadly shooting at Fort Hood, Tex., and the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound airliner last year.
In the second edition of its publication, which it calls "Inspire," the al-Qaeda affiliate cautions American Muslims against traveling abroad to join jihadist groups and mentions the arrest of five Virginia residents in Pakistan last year.
"Therefore we strongly encourage our brothers to fight jihad on U.S. soil," said an article titled "Tips for our brothers in the United States" by an author identified as Yahya Ibrahim.
Another article, under the headline "The Ultimate Mowing Machine," proposes attaching a steel blade to the front of a four-wheel-drive truck and using the vehicle to strike pedestrians in a crowd.
The publication notes with evident pride that AQAP, as the group is known, has come to be seen by CIA analysts as the most potent of al-Qaeda's affiliates. A key reason is the involvement in the group of Anwar al-Aulaqi, a U.S.-born cleric who speaks fluent English and was tied to the Fort Hood and Christmas Day airline attacks.