As exposed by Reuters, al Qaeda recently called on followers to carry out attacks in (and on) the West. In its online magazine Sada al-Malahem the terrorist group specifically encouraged Islamists to create homemade bombs with materials that already exist in their "mother's kitchen." The magazine article suggests that the bombs should be detonated "in airports in Crusader Western countries, which take part in the war against Muslims, or on their aircraft, housing complexes or their subways…"
Additionally, the article encourages violence against public figures such as "a government minister" and "media figures, and writers who insult the religion."
Al Qaeda's open invitation to anyone to commit violent acts on Western soil is an indication that so-called "lone wolf" attackers, may not be so alone after all. While individuals plotting attacks may not hold a leadership position or even have interacted with anyone directly tied to the organization, those who carry out actions in line with al Qaeda's message may be considered a part of the loosely organized outer fringe of the terrorist group.
Al Qaeda's violent instructions should be taken seriously considering that many here in the U.S. already relate to the terrorist organization's grievances and that others pledge allegiance to al Qaeda itself.
Just this year the U.S. has seen an instance of an individual who was structurally disconnected from al Qaeda cite allegiance to al Qaeda's message as a reason for planning attacks. Hosam Smadi, a Jordanian citizen, was charged with attempting to blow up a Dallas skyscraper in September 2009. Smadi said that his intention in committing this act was to serve as a soldier for Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda. FBI agents posing undercover as members of an al Qaeda sleeper cell were introduced to Smadi at which time he told them that he came to the U.S. for the specific purpose of committing "jihad for the sake of God."
In other cases, radicalized people did commit violent acts on U.S. soil without linking themselves to al Qaeda. However, the grievances they mentioned to authorities are exactly those grievances al Qaeda lists as reasons for those in Western countries to detonate bombs - in particular that the U.S. is at war in Muslim countries.
One Muslim convert, Abdulhakem Muhammad, shot two soldiers outside an Army recruiting center in Arkansas in June 2009. Muhammad told investigating detectives that he was mad at the U.S. military because of what they had done to Muslims in the past.
James Cromitie (a.k.a. Abdul Rahman) was arrested for plotting to detonate explosives near a synagogue in the Riverdale section of the Bronx and to shoot military planes located at the New York Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY. Cromitie told an FBI informant that he was upset about the war in Afghanistan and that many Muslims had been killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by the U.S. Military.
Similarly in the case of Michael Finton (a.k.a. Talib Islam), accused of plotting to use a truck bomb to blow up the federal building in Springfield, Illinois, Finton discussed targeting locations in the United States and made videos in which he rationalized the attacks and accused the U.S. of being at war with Islam.