Internet Jihadis React to Alleged Nuclear Plot on the United States

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 3 Issue: 36

Recent reports indicating al-Qaeda’s preparations for a nuclear attack in the United States by al-Qaeda’s alleged nuclear expert, Adnan El-Shukrijumah, has prompted conflicting reactions among Islamists in the jihadi forums (Terrorism Focus, September 12; al-Arabiya, September 11). The jihadi forums described the possible nuclear attack, and they also discussed a separate plan by al-Qaeda to attack coalition forces in Afghanistan with 300 suicide bombers. This latter plan was labeled The Ramadan Invasion, a reference to Prophet Muhammad’s first war with infidels that was called the Badr invasion that took place in the month of Ramadan. With regard to the nuclear plot, the debate revolved around whether Islam justifies killing innocent people with weapons of mass destruction. Other forums hailed the news of the possible nuclear attack by saying that “this is a good omen for all lovers of jihad” [1].

Proponents of a nuclear attack on the United States reason that American civilians are not innocent bystanders. According to this view, American citizens are as guilty as the political and military leaders they freely elected who make the decisions to kill Muslims. The citizens are taxpayers, and the leaders use their tax money to implement anti-Muslim policies. They further justify mass killings by saying that “even though [American civilians] are not armed militants, they fund the militants and corroborate government actions.” Another forum participant, nicknamed Mohannad Net, says that “we are longing for such an attack to break the back of the American camel…I pray to God that this plan does exist and will be implemented” [2]. The strongest argument comes from a participant with the nickname Sendbad Elmassery who refutes the notion that nuclear weapons are banned, quoting a verse from the Holy Quran that reads, “If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted” [3].

The proponents who reason against a nuclear attack on the United States argue that Islam and the Prophet Muhammad forbade the killing of unarmed civilians, the elderly, women and children. They reiterate that the killing of innocent Muslims by the United States does not justify killing their civilians even if they are infidels, Jews or Christians. They add, “our religion calls for forgiveness and mercy, not random killing. Therefore, such an operation will distort Islam and true Jihad. We must not burden Islam with the guilt of using nuclear weapons. It is better to be martyrs than mass butchers” [4]. A participant, nicknamed Abdullah 28, refutes Sendbad Elmassery’s Quranic justification of a nuclear attack by posting the full verse that reads, “If ye punish, then punish with the like of that wherewith ye were afflicted. But if ye endure patiently, verily it is better for the patient” [5].

In between these two perspectives, there is a third party that believes that the nuclear attack is a conspiracy organized by Israel and directed by the United States [6]. They argue that the September 11 attacks were carried out without anyone uncovering the plot prior to perpetration. In this case, however, the nuclear plot has already been revealed, which would not have happened if it were a true plot organized by al-Qaeda.


1. t=180439.

2. Ibid.

3. Ibid.