“Assemble your bomb,” orders al-Qaeda on a photo of a San Francisco Airport tram

‘Inspire,’ the English language al-Qaeda magazine containing a photo of a people-mover tram at San Francisco International Airport along with a caption urging readers to “assemble your bomb” has set off alarms on Capitol Hill as the one year anniversary of the Boston Marathon Islamic bombings approaches.


SF Gate  Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, told a homeland security hearing Wednesday that he was “disturbed” by the English-language spring edition of the al Qaeda publication Inspire, which features a darkened photo of a lone young man aboard what the congressman said had been identified as “a tram in San Francisco’s international airport.”

Printed with the photo, Swalwell noted, was a caption reading, “For how long will you live in tension? Instead of just sitting, having no solution, simply stand up. Pack your tools of destruction. Assemble your bomb, ready for detonation.”


Swalwell, a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said he was especially concerned because “this is one of the largest international airports in the world, certainly one of the largest on the West Coast, and thousands of passengers a day use the tram to connect from BART to the airport.”

Brian Michael Jenkins of the Mineta Transportation Institute in San Jose said authorities closely monitor Inspire, which “embraces a strategy of do-it-yourself terrorism … to inspire local jihadists to carry out actions – whatever they can do, wherever they are.”


Jenkins, director of the institute’s National Transportation Security Center and a counterterrorism expert at RAND Corp., said terrorists have targeted public-transportation systems in London, Madrid and elsewhere because they are generally “not looking to take on defended targets. They’re looking for easy targets with a high body count … to create a major disruptive publicity event.”

He said of the photo in Inspire, “It is not so much that al Qaeda is making a strategic decision about where to open the next front.” More likely, “it is simply underscoring kinds of targets … and attempting to get the brothers to push back from the monitor and actually do something.”