World News

Factbox: Qaeda unveils "strategy of a thousand cuts"

DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda’s Yemen-based wing vowed to “bleed” U.S. resources with inexpensive, small-scale attacks that cost militants just thousands of dollars to mount but billions for the West to guard against.

In the third edition of its online Inspire magazine, released on militant websites, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) said it had cost just $4,200 to mail two parcel bombs from Yemen to the United States last month.

The bombs were intercepted in Britain and Dubai, sparking a worldwide security alert.

Here are the main points from the edition, a special issue intended to explain the plot and the thinking behind it.


* Bleed the enemy - “This strategy of attacking the enemy with smaller but more frequent operations is what some may refer to as the strategy of a thousand cuts. The aim is to bleed the enemy to death.”

* Low risk, low cost - “It is such a good bargain for us to spread fear amongst the enemy and keep him on his toes in exchange of a few months of work and a few thousand bucks.”

* Security worries - “In such an environment of security phobia that is sweeping America it is more feasible to stage smaller attacks that involve less players and less time to launch and thus we may circumvent the security barriers American worked so hard to erect.”


Equipment - “Two Nokia mobiles, $150 each, two HP printers, $300 each, plus shipping, transportation and other miscellaneous expenses add up to a total bill of $4,200.”

Time - “It took us three months to plan and execute the operation from beginning to end.”

People - “A team of less than six.”


* More to come -- “We will continue with similar operations and we do not mind at all in this stage if they are intercepted.”

* Next phase - “The next phase would be to disseminate the technical details of our device to the mujahidin around the world to use from their respective countries.

“...Do you think that our research will only be used by al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and won’t be shared with other mujahideen (holy warriors)?

* Subsequent phase - “The following phase would be for us to use our connections to mail such packages from countries that are ‘below the radar’ and to use similar devices on civilian aircrafts in Western countries.”


Aviation is the target - “Our objective is not maximum kill but to cause (damage) in the aviation industry, an industry that is so vital for trade and transportation between the U.S. and Europe.”

* Economic losses sought - “We knew that cargo planes are staffed by only a pilot and a co-pilot so our objective was not to cause maximum casualties but to cause maximum losses to the American economy.”

* The goal is to “force upon the West two choices: You either spend billions of dollars to inspect each and every package in the world or you do nothing and we keep trying again.”