At a Glance | August 21

Al-Qa’ida Publication Offers Strategies to Derail Trains in the United States and Europe

The latest edition of an online English-language terrorist magazine urged followers to attack US and European trains, and provided instructions on how to build a derailment device. The 18-page guide is found within the 17th edition of Inspire, published by al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP noted that a derailment operation does not require “martyrdom” and therefore “can be repeated.” The New York Police Department Counterterrorism Bureau responded on Twitter, “We’ve known about the content & threats presented in the current issue of AQAP’s Inspire 17 prior to its release.” The U.S. Transportation Security Administration “is not recommending any specific actions or countermeasures at this time,” but said, “The agency encourages rail operators to use this as an opportunity to remind their employees of the importance of being aware of their work environment and to exercise due caution with equipment and materials that could be used to obstruct or derail trains.”

Stabbings in Finland and Siberia Examined for ISIS Connections

Investigators in two nations are examining stabbing attacks for possible ISIS connections. The first happened August 18 in Turku, Finland, when a man stabbed two people to death and injured eight others before he was shot and arrested. Finnish authorities identified the suspect as an 18-year-old Moroccan citizen, and said they were treating the incident as terrorism. The second attack occurred August 19 in Siberia, when a knife-wielding man in his 20s slashed seven people on a street in Surgut, which is about 1,300 miles east of Moscow. ISIS claimed responsibility through its Amaq News Agency, claiming the attacker was “an Islamic State soldier.” This language has been used to describe militants inspired by ISIS, but not trained by the group. However, the Russian Interior Ministry said “the theory that the attack was an act of terrorism is not the main one.” Authorities said the attacker was a local resident born in 1994.

Al-Shabaab Co-Founder Surrenders and Urges Others to Quit the Somali Terror Group

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A co-founder of the Somali terror group al-Shabaab defected to government authorities and urged others to quit. Mukhtar Robow Ali surrendered on August 13, and made his statement two days later in Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Robow served as al-Shabaab spokesman but left in 2013 after a split with leader Ahmed Abdi Godane, who died the next year in a US drone strike. While al-Shabaab’s operations focused on Africa, dozens of US persons have been indicted in counterterrorism cases related to the group. Most were in Minneapolis, home to a large Somali diaspora, where at least 27 men left to join al-Shabaab.

For more information, please contact NJOHSP's Analysis Bureau at or 609-584-4000.