How to make a bomb in your Mom’s kitchen

bomb in kitchen

Read time: 2 minutes

Yes, I know what you’re thinking.  That’s exactly what flashed through my brain when I read that title.  It was 2009 and the ranks of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (i.e. al-Qa’ida in Yemen and Saudi Arabia) had been infiltrated by extremists who had spent a lot of time in the United States.  These jerks had finally gotten the idea to translate terrorism not just into English, but into “American.”  I couldn’t believe it.  This was the most dangerous development I had seen in a long time—and that says a lot after serving in Iraq and other such garden spots.  They called this so called online magazine something that sounds so innocent that your stomach turns when you realize what it’s really about.  The terrorists had created and were working to disseminate, “Inspire Magazine.”

When hateful terrorist propaganda is translated into your own vernacular and you see it staring back at you—it sends shivers down your spine.  I thought, “Oh Lord, they’re speaking ‘extremism’ in my language.”  For years the terrorists had disseminated “how to” articles on web sites showing people how to construct IEDs, how to target innocents, how to slaughter infidels, etc.  Al-Qa’ida wasn’t saying anything new—they were just saying it differently to connect with a whole new generation of would-be jihadists—those who prefer not to travel to such luxury destinations as Afghanistan or Yemen.  They were saying the very things they had been saying for YEARS, but now, they were saying it like they had grown up playing dodge-ball with me and my little friends in the trailer park.  Yikes.  This was not good.


Two weeks ago, al-Qa’ida disseminated another disturbing message under its Inspire banner encouraging Muslims in the United States and Europe to build car bombs (“absolutely simple” they tell readers) and then target the following cities:  New York, DC, Los Angeles, Chicago, and several European cities.  They instructed their followers to hit us where it really hurts and to inflict the greatest number of casualties possible:  at malls during Christmas, at sports events during major games, at New Years festivities, election campaign events … you get the picture.

Al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) inspired several people who successfully carried out attacks against us over the last few years, and I doubt these will be the last people to try.  Two of the most well-known attempts were carried out by Nigerian national Umar ‘Abd al-Mutallib, the underwear bomber (The IED didn’t go off properly and he did not go down in a blaze of glory like he had hoped, suffering humiliation and massive burns to sensitive man-parts); and The Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan who killed 13 and injured 30.  (Note: There were warning signs for both attackers, but we’ll reserve that discussion for a future post.)

While 9/11 is a distant memory for most of us, the war against terror continues.  I salute all the men and women of the FBI, CIA and Armed Forces who work every day to protect our country from the continuing threat.  They battle their own severely dysfunctional bureaucracies and plunging morale to get out of bed each day and carry out their counterterrorism mission.  They work hard to identify those who are being encouraged by al-Qa’ida, not just to build a bomb in their Mom’s kitchen, but to build a car bomb in their American garage.  It’s not an easy fight, but it’s an honorable one.

Michele Rigby Assad

About Michele Rigby Assad

After obtaining a masters degree in Arab Studies at Georgetown University, Michele applied—along with hundreds of others from the university--to work for the CIA. After a long and grueling hiring process and a year of intensive training, she became an intelligence officer for the National Clandestine Service, the covert (operational) arm of the Agency. Serving for a decade as a counterterrorism officer, Michele worked in all of the awful places you hope you’ll never visit, including Iraq during the height of the war. To date, Michele has traveled to 45 countries, lived in six of those, and has a lot of crazy stories to tell about life overseas. While working for the CIA, Michele initially decried the traits that made her different from senior male officers, but later realized that these traits were what made her a great intelligence officer (empathy, intuition, strong interpersonal skills). Now she’s on a mission to show women that they have the elements to be a Femme Fatale—the incredibly intelligent and operationally astute woman that gets stuff done. After years of service to her country, Michele has left the undercover life behind and now works as an international management consultant focused on Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. She has a more “normal” life now and a lot more time to do the things she loves: writing, cooking, traveling for pleasure, walking on the beach—and most of all, inspiring others!

One thought on “How to make a bomb in your Mom’s kitchen

  1. 4Guns

    A sobering reminder of the dangers that still face America. I was surprised, pleasantly, to read about this topic in this forum. As a former Federal Government agent, I too am disturbed by how most Americans have already forgotten about 9/11. You need to get these articles syndicated and posted on main stream media outlets. This is too good and needs wide distro. Well done to the forum and author.