The second issue of Al Qaeda's English-language magazine encourages terror attacks on U.S. soil and features two Americans aligned with Al Qaeda in Yemen.
The media wing of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen and Saudi Arabia, released the second issue of Inspire via the internet on October 11, 2010. The October release of the publication – the second installment of Al Qaeda's first-ever English-language magazine – coincides with the anniversary of Al Qaeda's 2000 USS Cole bombing in Yemen that killed 17 American soldiers.
One of Inspire's featured stories, entitled "I Am Proud to be a Traitor to America," is written by Samir Khan, an American blogger who distributed terrorist propaganda material from the U.S. for several years before leaving for Yemen in October 2009. Federal authorities have claimed that Khan is the magazine's principal author, and the graphics, design and overall packaging of Inspire resemble those on Khan's various blogs and in Jihad Recollections, the self-described "first English Jihad magazine" in which Khan was a contributor.
"It didn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that I was Al Qaeda to the core," Khan writes about his years spent in the U.S. distributing terror propaganda. He proceeds to deride American federal authorities for allowing him to persist in spreading Al Qaeda's ideology and criticizes the U.S. government and its military incursions in the Middle East and South Asia.
Khan then explains that he traveled to Yemen to "implant Islam all over the world" without being confined within the American legal system. According to Khan, fomenting "Islam's claim to power in the modern world" entails fighting the U.S. and its allies. "I am acutely aware that body parts have to be torn apart, skulls have to be crushed and blood has to be spilled," Khan writes. "I would think that it's about time Muslims came together to tear down the obstacles. The most important of these obstacles today is obviously America."
The 74-page magazine also features several statements from another American who has ascended to the top of the ranks of AQAP. In one article, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric living in Yemen who encourages American Muslims to attack non-Muslims and has been designated by the U.S. as a "key leader" of AQAP, criticizes a group of Muslim scholars who previously convened in Turkey to challenge a fatwa that justified jihad. "According to these scholars, we the Muslims are not allowed to terrorize the Israelis, or the Americans, or the British." Al-Awlaki writes. "No. We do not agree with that… We will terrorize them and we will do what we can to strip them of their safety and security as long as they do us the same."
In addition to original articles written for the magazine, Inspire also includes excerpts from sermons and statements previously released by various Al Qaeda leaders, including Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahiri and American Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn. The issue also features excerpts from a previously released statement by Humam Khalil Abu Mulal al-Balawi (also known as Abu Dujanah al-Korasani), the Jordanian physician who carried out a December 30, 2009, suicide bombing at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan in which seven Americans were killed.
Also featured in Inspire is an interview with Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, AQAP's second-in-command, in which al-Shahri advises Muslims in the West to "either immigrate or fight Jihad in the West by individual Jihad or by communicating with their brothers in the lands of Jihad." Images of AQAP battles against the Yemeni military are also displayed in the magazine.
The second issue of Inspire comes three months after Al Qaeda released its inaugural issue, marking the first time the international terrorist network published a magazine in English. Following its release, the Department of Homeland Security stated that "the sophisticated, colloquial English-language magazine could appeal to certain Western individuals and inspire them to conduct attacks in the United States in the future."
Various articles throughout the second issue of Inspire caution followers in the U.S. and in other Western countries against traveling abroad to join foreign terrorist organizations. Instead, readers in the West are encouraged to carry out terrorist attacks in their home countries.
"I strongly recommend all the brothers and sisters coming from the West to consider attacking the West in its own backyard," Mukhtar Hassan writes. "The effect is much greater, it always embarrasses the enemy, and these types of individual attacks are nearly impossible for them to contain."
One section in Inspire, entitled, "Open Source Jihad" and written by Yahya Ibrahim, provides a resource manual that allows "Muslims to train at home instead of risking a dangerous travel abroad" and proposes several ways to wage "individual jihad" that inflicts mass casualties and economic losses. "We strongly encourage our brothers to fight jihad on U.S. soil," Ibrahim writes, "to kill a snake, strike its head." The article includes a picture of the Chicago skyline, apparently foreshadowing the terror plot against Chicago-area synagogues on October 29. AQAP claimed responsibility for this attack on November 5, 2010.
Throughout the section, Ibrahim encourages simple and direct methods of killing in place of elaborate plots that can be stopped in advance by law enforcement. One method Ibrahim suggests is to "use a pickup truck as a mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah." To ensure mass casualties, Ibrahim recommends targeting a narrow location with heavy pedestrian traffic, thereby giving bystanders little chance to run away and escape. He also suggests welding steel blades to the front of the truck to pierce through pedestrians and carrying firearms "so that you may use them to finish off your work if your vehicle gets grounded during the attack."
In another article, Ibrahim suggests a method detailed in the inaugural issue of Inspire, which provided step-by-step instructions on making an explosive device using household ingredients such as sugar, match heads, Christmas lights, batteries and a clock. Ibrahim also encourages followers with advanced degrees or specializations in microbiology or chemistry "to develop a weapon of mass destruction, i.e., an effective poison with the proper method of delivery."
Another method encourages readers to carry out attacks using firearms. Ibrahim notes that such an attack, similar to the November 2009 shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas and the June 2009 shooting at the military recruiting center in Arkansas, requires little preparation and is difficult for authorities to detect. Ibrahim proposes that a "random hit at a crowded restaurant in Washington DC [sic] at lunch hour might end up knocking out a few government employees. Targeting such employees is paramount and the location would also give the operation additional media attention."
Suspected Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan is again depicted as a hero in an interview with Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shahri, AQAP's second-in-command, who calls on Muslims in the West to follow in the footsteps of Hasan and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian man who attempted to detonate a bomb on a transatlantic flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009. "The operations of our brothers, Nidal Hassan [sic] and Umar al-Farouk [sic] are great heroic acts," al-Shahri asserts, "so whoever may add himself to this great list should do so and we ask Allah to grant them success."
For those who opt to engage in terrorist activities in the U.S., Inspire provides several tactics that should be employed to evade detection by law enforcement. In particular, followers should be wary of informants and avoid contact with like-minded individuals, visiting extremist Web sites and storing any "suspicious" material.
Anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and Al Qaeda's agenda of eliminating Israel are propagated throughout the second issue of Inspire.
In the first pages of the magazine, the editor warns the U.S. that Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) will "not lay down their arms until they free this land from the tyrants and march on to Jerusalem. That is when America and its Jewish masters would realize the true danger of AQAP." The editor also notes the group's slogan: "Here we start, and in Jerusalem we meet."
Inspire also uses Helen Thomas's retirement as a White House columnist to further promulgate claims that Israel and the Jews control America. "If a long time journalist and reporter like Helen Thomas was thrown out for truthful words on the Israeli occupation," Inspire asks, "doesn't that hint to everyone who's really in control of America?"
Also featured in Inspire are several statements from Al Qaeda leaders threatening the existence of Israel and urging readers to launch attacks against the Jewish state. In one such statement, Osama bin Laden avers that he and his followers will not recognize "any state for the Jews" or "respect the international charters which recognize the Zionist entity on the soil of Palestine." Instead, bin Laden endeavors to "liberate all of Palestine from the river to the sea."
American-born radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki also reiterates Al Qaeda's anti-Israel and anti-American ideology in the pages of Inspire. "Israeli and American aggression cannot be met with pigeons and olive branches but must be met with bullets and bombs," al-Awlaki writes. "It is through the heroic acts of the Palestinian martyrs that Israel had forsaken its dream of a great Israel and retracted upon itself behind walls and barriers."