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AQAP release ‘Inspire Guide – Nice Operation, France

al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have produced an Inspire Guide of the Nice terrorist attack with analysis. The following are the key points from our examination of the article:

The author justifies the attack because âthe Islamic and Arab world is still living up the crisis of the oppressive division and colonisation by France and Britain over the treaty of Sykes the British and Picot the French. And the Muslims still, up to this day, continue to suffer from the indirect French colonial intervention in many of the Muslim countries, particularly the Islamic Maghreb and other African nationsâ.The author then describes the events of the attack stating that Muhammad al Huwayj rented a large refrigerator truck five days before the attack and the âoperation took place at 10:10 pm, French timeâ. COMMENT: This does not match the current reported series of events, which states the truck was rented on 11th July, three days before the attack on the 14th July. Also al Huwayj began the attack at 2245hrs, not 2210hrs as the Inspire Guide states, however, it could be referring to when he arrived in the area on his bicycle and gets behind the wheel of the truck. COMMENT ENDS In the guideâs analysis of the operation, it discusses the selection of Nice as a target. It states, âthe Mujahid selected the city of Nice. Known for its racist views and right wing extremism. A city famous for its enmity towards Islam such as banning Muslims from building mosques and any aspects of Islam. Hence the selection of the venue was appropriate in sending a clear messageâ. COMMENT: Al Huwayrj was Tunisian, although had been living in Nice since 2005, therefore the selection of Nice as a target was likely just due to his own proximity, circumstances and what he knew, not as part of a high level strategic decision. Living in Nice for 11 years, he likely attended the Bastille celebrations at some point and recognised it would be a soft target and because of the Promenade des Anglais being a long stretch of road, it would allow him to accelerate to a high speed in order to inflict multiple casualties. COMMENT ENDSThe guide also states that âthe city of Nice is among the most important tourist cities in France, this means that the operation had a great economic impact.â COMMENT: According to International Monetary Fund (IMF) researchers Barry Johnston and Oana Nedelescu in their 2005 paper âThe Impact of Terrorism on Financial Markets,â acts of terrorism inflict direct and indirect economic costs. The direct economic costs are shorter-term in nature and include the destruction of life and property, responses from emergency services providers, restoration of systems and infrastructure, and the provision of temporary living assistance. The indirect costs of terrorism can be significantly larger as they affect the economy in the medium term by undermining consumer and investor confidence, and in this case, likely tourism to Nice. COMMENT ENDSThe guide states that, âsecurity agencies focus on tracking primary materials in designing explosives. Focusing their precautionary measures and plans on the expected type of means use in previous operations then came the Mujahid Muhammad with a new weapon, a weapon originally used by civilians. This enabled him not to attract any attention when acquiring it, moving with it or even during execution.â The guide goes on to state that al Huwayj had a weapon as back up in case there was an issue with the truck, or if the truck was immobilised he could continue the attack until he was killed.The article states that, âthe Mujahid placed fake explosives and weapons in the truck, according to my (the Inspire Guide authors) point of view; the reason was that he wanted to delay the security forces, this is in a scenario where he successfully retreats from the place of the operation. The fake weapon will confuse the security forces in dealing with him, thus giving him more time to retreat safely. And this may explain the presence of a motorcycle in the same truck, which gives an insight into the Mujahid that he may had an escape planâ. COMMENT: Police discovered a magazine, a pistol, an empty grenade, and replica Kalashnikov and M16 rifles in the truck and current reporting states al Huwayj rode a bicycle to the location of the parked truck, before loading it into the truck. It seems highly unlikely that al Huwayj felt that he could run down multiple people at a national event and open fire, before somehow escaping from police on a motorcycle, or actually a bicycle as reporting suggests. This was therefore more likely only a suicide mission, without an escape plan. COMMENT ENDS

The guide then discusses the messages of the operation. The three messages are:

Because the French military and government are conducting operations against Muslim nations, therefore the French people should be attacked so that they demand these operations cease.Tourism in France from now on will never be safe.By striking on Bastille Day, a symbol of French freedom, this attack was to signify the oppression of Muslims by France and that Muslims demand freedom as well.

The guide states that al Huwayj conducted the attack perfectly, and that Inspire Magazine had discussed the use of vehicles to run over large gatherings of kuffar in issue 2. The author states that the attack could have been improved by disguising a blade at the front of the vehicle in order to increase lethality. The guide also states that al Huwayj should have somehow claimed the attack so he could have explained his motives.

Assessment: Some of the details of the attack appear to be inaccurate and there is nothing to suggest that the people who produced the guide had any links to al Huwayj. Propaganda is key for Islamists, who continually talk about claiming attacks for propaganda purposes. This document is likely part of an unconnected wider Islamist propaganda support network, who are attempting to squeeze out all propaganda value from this attack, as well as suggest a higher level of strategic planning than that of a lone wolf attacker targeting people in the city where he lived. What is disturbing though is that these networks of Islamists are conducting post attack reviews in order to ensure future attacks are more successful and lethal.
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