Earlier today, Mike Levine of ABC News tweeted the image above showing a blood-soaked page from Ahmad Khan Rahami’s notebook. The US government has accused Rahami of detonating a bomb in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan on Sept. 17 and planting three other explosive devices in New York and New Jersey.
The page above contains the same passages referenced in the Department of Justice’s complaint against Rahami, which was released yesterday.
Curiously, the complaint does not include any reference to the Islamic State.
The journal contains clear references to both “Sheikh Anwar” and “Brother Adnani.” The former is Anwar al Awlaki, an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) ideologue who was killed in an American drone strike in 2011. The latter is Abu Muhammad al Adnani, who served as the Islamic State’s top spokesman and oversaw the group’s anti-Western plotting until he met his demise in an airstrike in August.
The complaint specifically mentions Awlaki, but does not name Adnani. Here is a screen shot of the language from the complaint:
The complaint cites several lines, which are written in broken English and obscured by blood, including the phrase “back to sham [Syria].” It continues with additional fragments from the notebook: “But [unintelligible] this incident show the risk are [unintelligible] of getting caught under [unintelligible] I looked for guidance and…Guidance came from Sheikh Anwar…Said it clearly attack the Kuffar [non-believers] in their backyard.”
However, it appears that this “guidance” also came from Adnani. The complaint describes these passages as a “reference to the instructions of terrorist leaders that, if travel is infeasible, to attack nonbelievers where they live.”
As The Long War Journal reported when the complaint was published online, this has been a consistent theme in the Islamic State’s messaging. Adnani repeatedly told followers to attack in their home countries if they couldn’t travel to the lands of the so-called caliphate.
In May, for instance, Adnani told followers that if foreign governments “have shut the door of hijrah [migration] in your faces,” then they should “open the door of jihad in theirs,” meaning in the West. “Make your deed a source of their regret,” Adnani continued. “Truly, the smallest act you do in their lands is more beloved to us than the biggest act done here; it is more effective for us and more harmful to them.”
“If one of you wishes and strives to reach the lands of the Islamic State,” Adnani told his audience, “then each of us wishes to be in your place to make examples of the crusaders, day and night, scaring them and terrorizing them, until every neighbor fears his neighbor.”
Adnani told jihadists that they should “not make light of throwing a stone at a crusader in his land,” nor should they “underestimate any deed, as its consequences are great for the mujahideen and its effect is noxious to the disbelievers.”
Immediately underneath Adnani’s name in Rahami’s notebook appears the word “Dawla,” which is another reference to the Islamic State.
It is not clear why these obvious mentions of Adnani and the Islamic State were not included in the complaint, which did include citations to Rahami’s notes on other jihadi figures, such as Anwar al Awlaki and Osama bin Laden.
In June, the FBI released a partial transcript of one of Omar Mateen’s 911 calls. Mateen, who killed 49 people and wounded dozens more during a mass shooting at a LGBT nightclub in Orlando, Fla. on June 12, pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi during those calls. But the FBI’s transcript initially omitted any reference to Baghdadi or the Islamic State, even though Mateen had obviously sworn his fealty to Baghdadi. A subsequent transcript jointly released by the FBI and the Department of Justice filled those references back in. [See LWJ report, Orlando terrorist swore allegiance to Islamic State’s Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.]
The Islamic State quickly claimed that Mateen was its “fighter.” But the group has not issued a similar claim in Rahami’s case.
Thus far, no jihadi organization has claimed responsibility for the bombs in New York and New Jersey.