Senator Feinstein calls for internet ban of Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire magazine
Following the arrest of two women in New York for allegedly conspiring to build a weapon of mass destruction, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) called for the banishment of a bomb-making book and an Al-Qaeda-published magazine from the internet.
Feinstein is currently Vice Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, but under her chairmanship of the committee, which ended last year, she was responsible for the release of the report on the CIA's use of torture against detainees during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. She released her request on Friday.
“I am particularly struck that the alleged bombers made use of online bomb making guides like the Anarchist Cookbook and Inspire Magazine. These documents are not, in my view, protected by the First Amendment and should be removed from the Internet,” said Feinstein in a statement.
The publication which Feinstein would like to ban are Inspire Magazine, published by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and The Anarchist Cookbook, a countercultural publication written during the 1970s which provides instructions on surveillance, making explosives, the destruction of bridges, ways to commit murder, making lethal gas, wiretapping, and the use of guns and knives.
“Under the weapons section on knives the notebook includes the following instruction. The heart is another fatal spot to be considered in your attack. A sharp thrust will usual slip off the rib cage and penetrate the heart. This type of thrust should end in an upward swing,” UPI quoted from the Cookbook in 1971.
This is not the first time that Feinstein has wanted to ban online bomb-making documents, but such a ban would violate the First Amendment. According to TechDirt, Feinstein tried to introduce legislation in 1997, but the Department of Justice said that “it would be appropriate and beneficial to adopt further legislation to address this problem directly, if that can be accomplished in a manner that does not impermissibly restrict the wholly legitimate publication and teaching of such information or otherwise violate the First Amendment.”
Feinstein's remarks came a day after the arrest of two women in Queens, New York. Their arrest followed a sting operation by an undercover officer who was wearing a wire during a joint operation between the FBI and the New York Police Department.
After searching the homes of the women, officers found three gas tanks, a pressure cooker, fertilizer, handwritten notes on receipts for bomb making, and jihadist literature. In the complaint, officials cited a poem written by Asia Siddiqui, 31, that appeared in Inspire. It declared there is “no excuse to sit back and wait - for the skies rain martyrdom.”
Investigators also said Noelle Velentzas, 28 called Osama bin Laden one of her heroes and said she and Siddiqui were “citizens of the Islamic State.” According to the complaint, the women “researched and acquired some of the components of a car bomb, like the one used in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing; a fertilizer bomb, like the one used in the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City; and a pressure cooker bomb, like the one used in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.”
According to TechDirt, the FBI's complaint against Velentzas and Siddiqui says it is their own undercover agent that introduced the two women to The Anarchist Cookbook. The agent reportedly printed out parts of the book that they would need, and the same agent provided them with a copy of Inspire. Neither of the women knew about the publications or downloaded the information from the internet.
“The arrests of two women … remind us that the threat of terrorism inside the United States endures. We must remain vigilant against these types of attacks and place a high priority on tracking and interdicting such plots,” said Feinstein in the statement. She commended the work of the FBI, the NYPD and the US attorney for Eastern District, Loretta Lynch. Lynch is President Obama’s nominee to be the next attorney general.
The accused women, who appeared briefly in court Thursday, did not enter a plea and are being held without bail until they are due back in court on May 4. If they are found guilty they could face life in prison.