The three botched terror attacks launched in Britain in the past 72 hours bear all the hallmarks of first-time British-born jihadis attempting to emulate al-Qaeda in Iraq.
Multiple car bombs designed to slaughter hundreds of civilians and strikes against critical infrastructure are daily events in Baghdad, and al-Qaeda in Iraq has decided to put its experience in mass murder on the internet for the benefit of its members around the world, in the form of an online training course on bomb attacks.
The bombing manual, available in Arabic on a jihadi website, contains a number of key pieces of advice for car bombers. It instructs terrorists not to park their vehicles illegally, and advises the car bomber to leave the scene quietly, if he plans to detonate the vehicle from a distance, in what al-Qaeda terms "non-martyrdom operations."
Fortunately, these guidelines were not adhered to by the two London car bombers, one of whom crashed his vehicle and fled the scene, arousing suspicion, while the other parked his vehicle illegally, resulting in the car being towed away from its intended target.
The manual details precise locations inside the vehicle where explosives should be placed, and recommends various targerts such as "cinemas" and "stadiums."
Other forms of explosives, the guide says, should be aimed at "groupings demonstrations, celebrations or festivals."
The guide calls on terrorists to "monitor and identify the route of the enemy, how they leave a cinema or a stadium at the end of a game," and also gives instructions on how to carry out suicide car bombings.
"Drive the car on the road passing the crowd. If a car passes near these places, it could draw the attention of the enemy, and the car could be inspected," the guide said. It went on to explain in detail how suicide car bombers can fool security guards, and suggests a correct speed to drive a vehicle packed with explosives into a target.
The placing of such a guide on the internet allows al-Qaeda members around the world to access this experience. In Britain, the target audience is a radical core of jihadis made up of thousands of young British Muslims who have sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda.
In Janury of 2005, six months before the July 7 bombings, their Syrian-born leader, (now exiled to Lebanon) Sheikh Omar Bakri, declared Britain to be a "land of War."
In Islamic terms, the Dar al-Harb, or land of War, is a territory in which jihad must be carried out, and is distinguished from the Dar al-Islam, or House of Islam. Up until 2005, UK jihadis were told by their leaders that they lived in Britain in a ceasefire condition, in what is known in Islamist terms as "the covenant of security."
According to that covenant, the UK could not be targeted for acts of jihad, so long as the British government did not interfere with UK-based jihadi organizations, who were then busy exporting soldiers and raising funds for jihad campaigns around the world.
During her visit to Israel at the start of June, Baroness Caroline Cox, former Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords, and a co-author of a book on the jihadi threat to the UK, expressed the view that the covenant of security may well have been unofficially agreed to by the UK government, in the hope that Britain would be spared from the jihad.
That hope proved misguided, and in an internet audio broadcast, Omar Bakri told dozens of followers that the covenant of security had ended. "I believe the whole of Britain has become Dar al-Harb," he declared. "The kuffar (non-Muslims) have no sanctity for their own life or property," he added. Since then, four suicide bombers murdered 52 Londoners, and security forces have scrambled to thwart further waves of attacks.
Due to the large number of British Muslims who are affiliated with al-Qaeda, some terror plots have not been picked up on the radar screens of UK security forces, including the botched car bombings in London on Friday, and the subsequent attack on Glasgow's airport on Saturday. Those attacks showed, however, that the cell which carried them out is unsophisticated, and that its members are in the 'kindergarten' stage of complex jihadi capabilities, despite the attempts of veteran al-Qaeda commanders to communicate their experience and tactics around the world.