The Austin bomber and our new age of open-source terrorism

How Mark Anthony Conditt likely benefited from Al Qaeda tutorials

The Austin bombings are a chilling reminder that all online bombmaking tutorials posted by terrorist groups are essentially shared community content, easily accessible for extremists of all stripes to consume and put into action.

Millennial serial bomber Mark Anthony Conditt took at least some of his motivations to his grave, and authorities are investigating how he acquired the knowledge to build his package and tripwire bombs. But for years, terrorist groups have ensured that anyone looking to bomb innocents can find sophisticated recipes and tips to wage explosive campaigns.

The cover of the May 2016 issue of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine showed a hooded figure lurking outside of a well-lit, idyllic family home, setting the eerie scene for their tutorial on constructing explosive devices for residential assassination operations.

Three bomb recipes were offered along with DIY photo instructions: the parcel bomb, the magnetic car bomb and the door-trap bomb.

The parcel bomb instructions showed how to construct a circuit triggered by opening the package or the contents within; Al Qaeda demonstrated the recipe by putting the bomb within a book in the package. “These are different types of packages you can chose from depending on the size of the bomb and weight of package,” the terror group said, showing everything from a gift box with an elegant bow to a simple shoebox. “Experiment many times until you are skilled enough with the circuitry aspect of them.”

In a 2015 issue of Inspire magazine, detailed step-by-step instructions showed how to make a homemade “hand grenade” — a shrapnel-packed pipe bomb with a 9-volt battery, wires and an altered green Christmas tree bulb to put a three-second delay on the circuit.

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