Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's release of issues eight and nine of its English-language terrorist magazine, Inspire, serves as a reminder of the group's continued effort to target western audiences.
These issues, released on May 2, 2012, are the first since Samir Khan, believed to be the principal author of the magazine, was killed in a September 2011 drone strike along with popular jihadist ideologue and magazine contributor Anwar al-Awlaki. At the time, their deaths led to speculation of the media franchise's demise.
Inspire 8 is dated fall 2011 and does not address the eight-month delay of its publication. The feature article, written by al-Awlaki, offers religious justifications for attacking civilian populations. The article was written in response to reader-submitted questions, the most prevalent of which apparently concerned the religious authorization for attacks on civilians.
Awlaki condones and encourages the use of explosives, firearms, poisons, and chemical and biological weapons. The only limitation he apparently places is a prohibition on "the execution of women or children when the target is clear."
An article by Samir Khan condemns "the 'moderate' Muslims in America," calling such a lifestyle inherently inconsistent.
The issue includes a recurring feature titled "Open Source Jihad," which provides instruction on using handguns and tips for building remote detonators for bombs. Other content in issue 8 includes profiles of martyrs, book reviews and translations of messages from Al Qaeda ideologues and leaders such as Abu Mus'ab al-Suri, Abu Yahya al-Libi and Osama bin Laden.
As in the past, the magazine requests reader assistance, particularly for creating permanent links for the magazine for help writing "on women-related issues," and with "research and translation." Highlighting the role of reader contributions, one article about Pakistan's role in aiding the West "in the Crusades" was noted as being a reader submission by a former Pakistani soldier.
Inspire 9, dated "winter," differs slightly from past issues in visual quality, but more significantly in the quality of its written materials. One article, purportedly written by Awlaki himself, presents "his side of the story." However, the tone and style of the piece are not consistent with Awlaki's previous messages.
Another indication that Inspire 9 was created, in part, by a new team of propagandists is the spelling conventions. For instance, the doctrine of propagating the faith is transliterated as "da`wah" in previous issues, is spelled "da`awah" in issue nine.
The overall tone of the magazine is still clearly trying to target Western audiences with continued references to American culture. For example, issue 9 includes an advertisement encourages assassinations with the Obama campaign slogan, "Yes We Can."
The theme of martyrdom is prevalent throughout the magazine, with a particular emphasis on the deaths of al-Awlaki and Khan. Al-Awlaki is eulogized as a traditional scholar and great orator.
While issue 9 does not include any featured articles by Khan, it does include a eulogy and what purports to be his "last will which was found in his hard-drive." In the will, he warns that "for Muslims it is dangerous to live in America, it is dangerous since America and the Western world are lands of war, giving Muslims the ability to freely attack them in whatever methods they choose… as long as they continue to kill our people, occupy our lands, support Israel, fund the tyrannical puppets in the Muslim lands and try to re-interpret Islam, we will punish them and their nation severely."
A special "Letter from the Editor" harps on this theme, noting that since "the martyrdom of Shaykh Anwar and brother Samir… we have been inundated with emails and requests by young inspired Muslims who are persistently offering their help, not just intellectually but with whatever the mujahideen need in the West." The letter describes Inspire as "America's worst nightmare" because it is "an effective tool" "to call for and inspire to jihad in the English speaking world and… to deliver to every inspire Muslim anywhere around the world the operational know-how of carrying out attacks from within the West."