The publication, known as "the Vanity Fair of terrorism," lists major events and specific neighborhoods it wants targeted.
In the newest edition of its online magazine, Inspire, al Qaeda is calling on its followers within the United States to attack American cities with car bombs.
The publication, known as "the Vanity Fair of terrorism," lists major events and specific neighborhoods it wants targeted. Former CBS News senior correspondent John Miller, now New York City's deputy police commissioner for intelligence, said the edition is the "one-stop shopping issue for an amateur terrorist."
"What it talks about is targeting New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Chicago, specific places, specific targets, specific events, but it goes beyond that call, and it says, 'and by the way, here is a simple set of instructions for a car bomb that you can make with essentially, you know, a trip to a big box hardware store and a couple of chemicals,'" he said.
"It talks about well-known figures in terrorism," Miller continued. "It has some kind of hero worship for people who have either been captured or killed, but it also has these practical instructions ... and the most famous article was How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom. This became the recipe used by Jose Pimentel, who targeted military locations in New York City who pled guilty to those charges based on an Intelligence Bureau investigation a couple of weeks ago. It is also, notably, the place where they got the recipe for the pressure cooker bombs used in the Boston Marathon."
So what does the magazine's content say about al Qaeda and the people they're looking to recruit?
The issue can be read a couple of ways, according to Miller.
"One way, you can read Inspire magazine as some kind of sign of failure, which is al Qaeda central has now diminished to the point that it has to put out this wide net and say, 'Can anybody do anything because as an organization we're not effective that way,'" he said.
"Or you can flip that coin and say, they've now gone from being an effective terrorist organization to being a narrative that gets out to millions of people," Miller said. "The Boston Marathon bombers, Jose Pimentel - you can pick your person who has been picked up in one of these plots - usually never made contact with al Qaeda, but many of them got their plans and plots from Inspire magazine."
To combat threats, Miller said the NYPD and others use a number of programs aimed at their targets.
"We have the critical response vehicles, which we will use the intelligence to post at sensitive locations around the city, depending on what the intelligence stream is telling us that day," he said. "We have the Hercules teams, which are heavily armed groups, which we'll deploy at high-profile locations with no notice. It's the kind of thing that will keep somebody trying to make a plan off balance, but it also relies on the intelligence and a little bit of luck."