The Fifth issue of the English-language terrorist magazine Inspire, released online by the media wing of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on March 29, 2011, focuses mostly on the uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa.
The cover story, titled "The Tsunami of Change," is written by the American-born Muslim cleric and regular contributor, Anwar al-Awlaki. In the article, Awlaki seeks to refute the perception that the uprisings are a sign that Al Qaeda's is no longer relevant. "The revolution broke the barriers of fear in the hearts and minds that the tyrants couldn't be removed," Awlaki writes. "Whatever the outcome is, our mujahidin brothers in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and the rest of the Muslim world will get a chance to breathe again after three decades of suffocation."
In the "letter from the editor," Yahya Ibrahim, whose writings have been feature in previous issues of Inspire, says Al Qaeda is "not against regime changes through protests but it is against the idea that the change should be only through peaceful means to the exclusion of the use of force." The uprisings, he writes, are "good for the mujahidin and bad for the imperialists of the West and their henchmen in the Muslim world."
Among the reader questions included in the Spring 2011 issue of Inspire is one from an individual identified as living in the West who inquires about how to travel to Afghanistan or Yemen to join the mujahidin. The response, from "Your brothers" in AQAP, recommends that the questioner "focus on planning out attacks in the West… the mujahidin leadership are today asking the brothers in the West specifically to attack Western interests in the West instead of coming here to Yemen...."
The response also provides examples of local targets, including "an army recruiting center, nightclub, highway or busy shopping mall." The response notes that most of those arrested in the West were arrested in groups or as a result of a sting operation and that "…operations done by lone individuals has proven to be much more successful."
An interview with Shaykh Abu Hurairah, identified as the military commander of AQAP, similarly instructs readers to carry out attacks on U.S. soil instead of traveling overseas. Hurairah says that Inspire "works toward preparing great ideas" for those interested in "executing operations on the ground" in the West. He adds that soon "there will be a military section [in Inspire] explaining what the Muslim should do in that field."
One recurring section of the magazine titled "Open Source Jihad" features an image of New York City and the Chrysler building. The section, which serves as a manual for "Muslims to train at home instead of risking dangerous travel abroad," provides tips on how to assemble and use an AK machine gun. A previous "Open Source Jihad" section in the October 2010 issue included a picture of the Chicago skyline, apparently foreshadowing the terror plot against Chicago-area synagogues on October 29.
While encouraging readers to attack in the West, the Spring 2011 issue also includes a "What to Expect in Jihad" section that describes "practical issues that will most likely appear" when one attends a training camp. Both mental and physical training are necessary, according to this section. "…it is not a requirement for brothers to have the body of strength of a line-backer or baseball player." Such colloquial references designed to appeal to American audiences are common in the pages of Inspire.
AQAP's goal of eliminating Israel also finds voice in the fifth issue of Inspire. In the "letter from the editor," Yahya Ibrahim discussed how the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa will help focus attention on Israel. "Now that the friends of American and Israel are being mopped out one after the other," he writes, "our aspirations are great that the path between us and Al-Aqsa is clearing up." Ibrahim also says that "the issue of Palestine is central to the Muslim Ummah and now that the masses have spoken, there is no doubt that it will be back to the forefront." The last page of Inspire is an image of a crowd of men with a caption that reads, "Al-Aqsa: The March is on."
Federal authorities have identified Samir Khan as the principal author of Inspire. His featured article in the Spring 2011 is titled "The Egyptian." In it, Khan calls on the Egyptian people to establishment on Islamic State. "You have to decide what your identity is" and "your loyalty should be to Allah and His Messenger."
Like past issues, the Spring 2011 issue contains various pieces by several Al Qaeda leaders, including Abu Yahya Al-Libi and by Ayman al-Zawahiri.