The seventh issue of the English-language terrorist magazine, Inspire, released online by the media wing of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) on September 27, 2011, focuses on the ten-year anniversary of the September 11th attacks.
The issues was released just days before Samir Khan, an American citizen believed to be the principal author of Inspire, was reported killed in a drone strike in Yemen along with influential jihadist propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki, who was also a regular contributor to the magazine.
The cover story of the issue, titled "The Greatest Special Operation of all time," was written by Inspire's Editor-in-Chief, Yahya Ibrahim, a possible pseudonym taken by Khan. The story provides AQAP's perspective on the attacks and their aftermath, rationalizing the attacks by citing "decades of American aggression" and support for "authoritarian regimes," and claiming that "America desecrated the Arabian Peninsula, the land of Muhammad... and the two Holy Mosques with its soldiers."
The story cites the spread of the mujahideen "from Afghanistan to Pakistan, Yemen, Somali" as a sign of its continued strength, adding "…and God willing the list will grow and the proliferation of jihad will continue." It concludes with: "The question is not whether American will fall or not. America is already falling; it just didn't hit the ground yet."
The "Letter from the Editor" further justifies the 9/11 attacks as "fair payback for the pain, suffering and agony that America has brought to millions of Muslims around the world." It also notes that the war "between the Muslims and the West" is ongoing.
Samir Khan, who distributed terrorist propaganda from the U.S. for several years before leaving for Yemen, is identified as the author of the other feature-length article, titled "The Media Conflict." This article highlights the importance of media for the global jihadist movement, noting that "ideas are bulletproof and have an outstanding lifespan," and that therefore "the credible ideas that we bring is what intimidates them [the West] the most." He further claims that America loses Muslim support by letting its "hate mongering preachers and right wing groups loose on Islam," which he notes is "part and parcel of their democracy."
Khan's article takes on additional meaning in light of his apparent death. Khan, who along with al-Awlaki has left a significant blueprint for techniques in online radicalization, notes in the article, "ideas are bulletproof and have an outstanding lifespan."
Inspire 7 includes a photo essay called "A Decade in Pictures: From 9/11 till Today." The essay shows photographs of the 9/11 attacks, the bombings in London and Madrid and others images accompanied by quotes from Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Anwar al-Awlaki, Faisal Shahzad and others.
The other written materials in the issue are an excerpt from an old bin Laden message about the "small number of Islam's youth [who] were able… to establish... the ability of resisting and fighting what are called the Superpowers" and an opinion piece about the reasons why Iran maintains that the U.S. and not Al Qaeda was behind the 9/11 attacks. The author believes this is because Iran views Al Qaeda as a competitor, succeeding in attacking the United States where Iran, a sovereign state, could not, and that giving such credit "would expose their lip-service jihad."
The issue promises an upcoming message from Anwar al-Awlaki called "Targeting the Populations of Countries that Are at War with the Muslims," which is advertised against a background of New York City's Grand Central Terminal. It is unclear, however, if the message will appear in the next issue of Inspire, or if the magazine will continue to be published in light of Awlaki and Khan's deaths.