Firearms Training For Jihad in America
The Violence Policy Center (VPC) has obtained a copy of the document, How Can I Train Myself for Jihad. The six-page document—which has reportedly been found in terrorist safe houses in Kabul, Afghanistan—advises that "military training is an obligation in Islam upon every sane, male, mature Muslim, whether rich or poor, whether studying or working and whether living in a Muslim or non-Muslim country."1 It offers tips on various ways to make "suitable preparations for battle," including physical training, martial arts, survival and outdoors training, firearms training, and military training. This report focuses on the firearms and military training aspects of the pamphlet.
Origins of the Pamphlet. The pamphlet appears to have been originally posted on Azzam.com, run by the British company Azzam Publications, and on qoqaz.net, an affiliate of Azzam.2 Azzam was founded in late 1996 and is named after Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, a mentor to Osama bin Laden.3 Azzam has operated a site dedicated to worldwide jihad, from which funds have been steered to the Taliban in Afghanistan and to guerillas fighting the Russians in Chechnya.4 Azzam sites reportedly published explicit photographs of laughing mujahedeen warriors brandishing the body parts of Russian soldiers,5 and praised suicide bombers as "martyrs."6 Some of those sites have been shut down, but archived sites contain duplicate information such as How Can I Train Myself for Jihad. The Violence Policy Center obtained its copy from one of those sites.
Links to Al Qaeda Terrorists. In addition to the general support for worldwide jihad described above, the training pamphlet was posted on one of the Azzam-affiliated web sites, www.qoqaz.de in Germany.7 After a hacker cracked the Azzam site, posted a list of subscribers to Azzam newsletters offered through the site, and turned the list over to authorities, it was discovered that Said Bahaji was apparently one of the subscribers.8 Authorities investigating the September 11, 2001, terror attacks on the United States have described Bahaji as the "brains" behind a key support cell that the investigation uncovered in Germany.9 German investigators say that Bahaji was responsible for logistics, including helping the suicide pilots who crashed jetliners into the World Trade Center obtain their visas to enter the United States.10
Firearms and Military Training Urged in Pamphlet. In addition to urging would-be holy warriors to prepare themselves for jihad physically and through martial arts, the pamphlet notes the advantages the United States offers for firearms training and advises readers on how to exploit them:
Related VPC Publications. The Violence Policy Center has published a number of reports describing specific dangers highlighted by terrorist exploitation of America's weak gun laws. These include, among others:
1) Anonymous pamphlet, How Can I Train Myself for Jihad, copy in files of Violence Policy Center.
2) "Extremist sites under heightened security," The Wall Street Journal Online, 8 October 2001.
3) "Extremist sites under heightened security," The Wall Street Journal Online, 8 October 2001; see also, Azzam Publications, "Biography of Abdulla Azzam," downloaded from MSA News, http://msanews.mynet.net/MSANEWS/1997303/19970317.6.html, on 20 November 2001.
4) "Terrorists Taking Up Cyberspace," The Los Angeles Times, 8 February 2001, p. A1.
5) "Local link to recruiting," Herald Sun (Australia), 20 November 2001, p. 13.
6) "Website Teaches Message of Hate; Make Your Kid a Terrorist for GBP 10," Daily Star, 20 September 2001, p. 6.
7) "Islamic militant groups turn to the Internet to promote their cause," Newsweek (Atlantic Edition), 15 October 2001, p. 48; "German police seek users of Islamic fundamentalist Web site visited by suspect," AP Worldstream, 19 September 2001.
8) "As German investigators cast wide net against terror, question emerges: Were we naive?" AP Worldstream, 19 September 2001; "Student believed to be key organizer in U.S. attacks, German police say," Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, 19 September 2001; "Militant terrorists used Internet communications in Germany," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 18 September 2001.
9) "Student believed to be key organizer in U.S. attacks, German police say," Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, 19 September 2001.
10) "A Nation Challenged: The Investigation; Retracing a Trail to Sept. 11 Plot," The New York Times, 18 November 2001, p. 1A; "Student believed to be key organizer in U.S. attacks, German police say," Knight Ridder Washington Bureau, 19 September 2001; "Militant terrorists used Internet communications in Germany," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 18 September 2001.
The Violence Policy Center is a national non-profit educational foundation that conducts research on violence in America and works to develop violence-reduction policies and proposals. The Center examines the role of firearms in America, conducts research on firearms violence, and explores new ways to decrease firearm-related death and injury.