By Bridget Johnson, Originally published in Real Clear Politics
Sun Tzu said “all warfare is based on deception,” and that rings especially true for terrorists’ strategy.
Long before a proposal to temporarily yet indefinitely ban Muslims from entering the United States sparked support and scorn in a frenzied presidential campaign season, al-Qaeda and ISIS already had the workaround in place. Terror groups have been extremely frank in publicly available jihadi guides about how to evade religion-based suspicion, with directives that would surprise Americans who believe Islamist terrorists are required to wear “Allahu Akbar” on their sleeve.
The spring 2014 issue of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire magazine, which has served as a practical how-to handbook for “open-source jihadists” such as the Boston Marathon bombers, recommended striking non-landmark targets such as festivals and Christmas events. To strike most effectively, the magazine advised, dress up like jolly St. Nick, complete with a Santa beard, and join others celebrating the Christian holiday.