President Barack Obama appears with a bull’s-eye on his head in a new English-language magazine published online apparently by Islamist militants, who also urge Muslims around the world to try to hack and manipulate American drones.
“Wanted Dead Only. Barack Obama Mass Murderer. Reward: in the Hereafter,” reads the full page poster that depicts a darkened image Obama as a target.
Elsewhere in the 80-page tome, the magazine calls upon the “Ummah,” the community of Muslims all over the world, to hack and manipulate U.S. drones, identifying drone attacks as “one of the utmost important issues that the Ummah must unite to come up with an answer to.”
“This is a call to anyone in the Islamic Ummah with knowledge, expertise and theories regarding anti-drone technology. […] These drones can be hacked and manipulated as evidenced by the efforts of the Iraq Mujahideen” says the article, possibly in reference to the reported interception of video feeds from U.S. predator drones by Iraqi militants in 2009.
While the magazine doesn’t explicitly say what the jihadi hackers should to with the drone, there is a significant difference between accessing unencrypted videos captured by a drone and actually commandeering a drone, according to Richard Clarke, former counter-terrorism advisor to the White House and current ABC News consultant.
“Taking over the controls of a drone is beyond the capabilities of members of such militant organizations,” said Clarke. “For that to happen they need to hack into the private encrypted network of the Pentagon or physically overpower the links between the drone and GPS with airplanes, which these organization do not have.”
In February, The Associated Press found an al Qaeda guide with 22 tips on avoiding drones, which was left behind by militants driven out of the Malian city of Timbuktu. The tip sheet referenced similar software reportedly used by the Iraqi militants in 2009 to intercept the drone’s surveillance images.
The new color magazine is entitled “Azan – A Call to Jihad” and was discovered online on May 5, though the issue itself is dated March 2013.
Azan, call to prayer in Arabic, holds a striking resemblance to Inspire, the English-language magazine published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), though no militant organization has claimed responsibility for the publication yet.
Nevertheless, the magazine’s header reads “Taliban in Kuhrasan” an indication that it might be published by islamists in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kuharasan is an ancient term for the region spanning Afghanistan, Northwest Pakistan, parts of Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
An American intelligence official told ABC News that the intelligence community was aware of the publication and that analysts are currently “evaluating Azan as they would any jihadist publication advocating international terrorism.”