In new issues of their English-language propaganda magazines, both Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and ISIS reiterate calls for attacks against Western civilians. Although both magazines were released in the days after the election, they were likely compiled well in advance and do not address the U.S. presidential elections or results.
AQAP released the 16th issue of Inspire Magazine, its flagship English-language propaganda magazine, on November 12. The magazine devotes most of its space to praising bombs in New York and New Jersey on September 17 and 18 and an unrelated stabbing attack in a Minnesota mall on September 17. The magazine analyzes the manner in which those acts were carried out, providing critical information to enable readers to replicate the plots and increase their lethality. The magazine encourages readers to conduct similar attacks, and refers to instructions for building pressure cooker bombs featured in previous issues of Inspire magazine. “And to our brothers, the heroes of Lone Jihad,” the magazine states, “we urge you to target America.”
Subsequent articles praise the 9/11 attacks, articulate AQAP’s rationales for terrorism, and encourage lone wolf attacks. The magazine also includes an article attacking president Obama and suggesting that “The American Globalization is Falling.”
This issue of Inspire magazine is just 46 pages long, half the length of the 15th issue (released May 2016).
The third issue of ISIS’s Rumiyah (Rome) magazine, released on November 13, also encourages attacks against the U.S., with a particular focus on vehicular attacks. Rumiyah is a relatively new English-language propaganda magazine and its emphasis on individual attacks against the West means it has more in common with Inspire than ISIS’s other main English-language magazine, Dabiq. A Rumiyah article “Just Terror Tactics” praises recent attacks against the West, and provides instructions for carrying out successful attacks modeled after the July 14, 2016 truck attack in Nice, France, which killed at least 84 people. A list of “applicable targets” includes “large outdoor conventions and celebrations, pedestrian-congested streets…outdoor markets, festivals, parades, political rallies” and is printed next to a photograph of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.
Over the past year, ISIS propaganda has focused more on encouraging easy attacks against the West than on recruitment of individuals to join the group abroad -- the terror group’s primary pitch in 2014 and 2015.
Inspire is perhaps the most notorious Al Qaeda propaganda vehicle, and has played a role in the radicalization of multiple domestic extremists, including the Tsarnaev brothers of the Boston Marathon bombing, Jose Pimentel, who attempted a bombing in New York, and Abdel Daoud, who attempted a bombing in Chicago.
While it remains to be seen whether Rumiyah will have similar influence, ISIS propaganda has led to significant increases in radicalization and recruitment by that group in the last two years.