The End of the Inspire Era

May 4, 2012 2:06 pm 0 comments

Former Al-Qaeda member Anwar Awlaki. Photo: www.jeffersonsrebels.blogspot.com

Al-Qaida has released two new issues of its English-language magazine eight months after a drone strike eliminated the American jihadi leaders behind it. The latest editions of Inspire magazine reinforce al-Qaida’s promotion of lone wolf attacks, but each is aimed at a very different audience.

Inspire was known for cultivating English-language jihadis, contributing to more than a dozen plots against American and Western targets. The sophisticated magazine combined all the elements necessary to motivate would-be terrorists, from the justifying theology to detailed suggestions for new attacks in the West. It was also critical for al-Qaida’s shift from large, top down directed attacks to small, individualistic terror.

The newly-released eighth issue carrying the cover headline, “Targeting Dar al-Harb Populations,” promotes the lone wolf trend for non-Muslim lands in the same way as previous editions. It details plans for new attack methods in the “Open Source Jihad” section, and presents the culmination of American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki’s justification for killing American civilians.

But the ninth issue, “Winning on the Ground,” reads more like an address to Western audiences and the moderate Muslims that al-Qaida despises. It was written after Awlaki and Inspire editor Samir Khan – a fellow American – were killed in the September U.S. drone strike.

Although it contains suggestions to burn down Western forests and cities, it spends more time eulogizing fallen fighters like Awlaki and trying to explain al-Qaida’s ideology to outsiders. Its quality is noticeably worse without Khan, lacking the polished style and graphics of previous editions, and is further limited by contradictory articles and barely readable translations.

The difference between the two magazines is striking, and perhaps hints at the new direction for future al-Qaida English-language publications.

Issue 8′s update in the “Open Source Jihad” series reinforces Inspire’s hallmark methods of lone wolf terrorism by showing how to use small handguns and to build remote-controlled detonators for explosives. This effort clearly builds on articles from previous issues, like “How to Build a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom.”

Its ideological articles also mirror those in previous issues. In a lengthy feature article, “Targeting the Populations of Countries that Are at War with the Muslims,” Awlaki lays out his most sophisticated argument for killing American civilians.

Such arguments arguably are his most important contribution to al-Qaida’s ideological longevity. This role was so important that Osama bin Laden called him “qualified and capable of running the matter in Yemen,” according to documents captured from bin Laden’s compound after his assassination.

In “Targeting the Populations of Countries that Are at War with the Muslims,” Awlaki argued that Islam’s prohibition against killing civilians doesn’t hold up for modern-day Westerners.

“… In no way does it mean that Islam prohibits the fighting against the disbelievers if their men, women and children are intermingled. This understanding is very dangerous and detrimental to jihad and awareness on this issue is very important,” he wrote. “To stop the targeting of disbelievers who are at war with the Muslims just because there are women and children among them leads to constraints on today’s jihad that make it very difficult, and at times, impossible to fight and places the Muslims at a great disadvantage compared to their enemy.”

Although it was intended to be released last fall, most of the issue’s ideological material remains relevant and dangerous.

In “Blended Duality: Muslim and American?” Khan argued that being Muslim and American are inherent contradictions.

“To say one is proud of being American is not merely a cultural declaration but one of allegiance,” he wrote. Being American is “to undertake that which Allah detests,” and all attempts to create a “moderate” Islam are just “Muslims throwing the Qur’an behind their backs.”

Would-be warriors should help al-Qaida create a real Islamic state instead, and throw off the shackles of Western secularism, he argued.

Stark Contrast

The ninth issue looks and reads like a different publication, complete with notes explaining Islamic terminology to the uninitiated. It also presents contradictory arguments about what al-Qaida really wants and who it is willing to kill to get there.

Khan’s final testament is published in the issue. He initially portrays al-Qaida’s fight as a defensive battle against American hegemony, which will ultimately lead to a renewed Islamic Caliphate that will defend Muslims. “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,” Khan wrote.

But in the article, “This is How We Win and This is How You Lose,” Abu Hurairah as-Sana’ani states that al-Qaida’s fight is about offensive domination of non-Muslims. “So contemplate… perhaps you [will be] guided to Islam, recognizing it as sovereign over you and give the jizyah willingly while you are humbled,” he wrote, referring to the obligatory tax on non-Muslims living under Islamic supremacy.

While Khan and as-Sana’ani’s arguments are essentially two sides of the same coin, each promoting the victory of Islam and the defeat of the West, they clash in explaining why al-Qaida is fighting.

Similar contradictions exist in the issue’s approach to killing civilians.

In “They Killed Father, They Killed Son,” writer Um Ahmed takes issue with separate drone strikes killing Awlaki and his eldest son. “One should wonder what Obama will do, what Obama would feel if Muslims kill his daughters only for being his daughters? We are sure that not only the Americans but the whole world would condemn such murder,” she wrote. “But Muslims would never intentionally killed (sic) children, no matter who their parents are. No matter if they are the worst enemy of Islam, if they are children it is prohibited to target them intentionally.”

But 20 pages later, the article “Do the Mujahideen and Christian terrorist have similar goals?” celebrates a recent terror attack by an al-Qaida wannabe in France. In March, French terrorist Mohammed Merah viciously murdered three young Jewish children and a rabbi on their way to school, chasing them down and killing them execution-style.

The same article states that al-Qaida terrorists “do not deliberately target women and children,” but refers to the deliberate murder of all civilians as entirely justified revenge.

“If someone says that our bombings in London and Madrid, for example, are proof that we target women and children, then we say that we purposely target specialized institutions to not only send political messages, but to damage their economies, and [do] revenge for the Muslims they have massacred over the years by repeating the same to their own citizens so that they may taste what we taste on a near daily basis,” the author claimed.

He concedes that, “Our war with America and the West may appear to some that we are out to kill for the sake of killing, since all we do to them is just that. The reason behind it is – as we’ve previously stated – because of the crimes these governments have perpetrated on our lands and continue to perpetrate.”

Other themes in the ninth issue contradict either prominent articles from previous issues or al-Qaida’s standard operating procedures.

“The Jihadi Experiences: The Most Important Enemy Targets Aimed at by the Individual Jihad,” calls for striking Jews but not synagogues or other places of worship. That goes against the entire third edition of Inspire, which promoted an attempted mail bombing attack on two Jewish houses of worship.

The article also warns against targeting civilians not involved in conflict with Muslims, and advises individual attackers to be sensitive to al-Qaida’s reputation. That point doesn’t jibe with the policy of al-Qaida’s North African and Yemeni branches, which have regularly kidnapped and executed foreign tourists.

The new Inspire issues represent different expressions of al-Qaida’s message, and alternative summaries of Inspire magazine’s legacy. Like past editions, they are likely to remain highly relevant to future plots, and may provide fertile ideological ground for the next generation of al-Qaida propaganda.

The Algemeiner is the fastest growing Jewish newspaper in America.  Your one stop source for all news, commentary and analysis from Israel and Jewish communities around the world. Be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    ‘Tears of Color’ Art Exhibit Shows Struggles of Israelis With Eating Disorders

    JNS.org – “This is how I want to be—without fear. Independent. I want to be like a bird. I want to spread my wings.” So reads part of the description beneath one of the 30 paintings on display until the end of May at the ZOA House in Tel Aviv. The collection represents the first-ever art exhibit of its kind: an exhibit created entirely by Israelis in treatment for eating disorders. Dubbed “Tears of Color,” based on one of the [...]

    Read more →
  • Beliefs and concepts Book Reviews Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    Overprotective or Loving? Daughters Reflect on Jewish Mothers in New Anthology

    JNS.org – Rachel Ament noticed that she and her friends often shared humorous anecdotes that were typically variations on a theme: overprotective, worrying Jewish moms who smothered them with love. That included Ament’s own mother. “My mom is probably every Jewish stereotype scrunched into one,” the Washington, DC, resident tells JNS.org. “At the root of all these stereotypical, worrying, overprotective moms, is love.” A social media writer for Capital One, as well as a freelance writer, Ament decided about three years [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Commentary ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    ‎Kosher Lust: Love is Not the Answer (REVIEW)

    Kosher Lust, by Shmuley Boteach (Gefen Publishing House, 2014). You really do want to find something positive to say about Shmuley Boteach. He is a phenomenon; very bright, an articulate bundle of energy and self-promotion. Anyone who has the chutzpah to describe himself as “America’s Rabbi” deserves ten out of ten for effort. I believe that along with most Chabad alumni, official and unofficial, he does a lot of good and is a sort of national treasure. In this world [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Theater Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    Hollywood’s Revisiting of Passover’s Exodus Story a Part of Throwback ‘Year of the Bible’

    JNS.org – In a throwback to the golden age of cinema, Hollywood has declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible.” From Ridley Scott’s Exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses, to Russell Crowe playing Noah, Hollywood is gambling on new innovations in technology and star power to revisit some of the most popular stories ever told. “It’s definitely a throwback to the 1950s and early ’60s,” Dr. Stephen J. Whitfield, an American Studies professor at Brandeis University, told JNS.org. Starting with The [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    ‘Jewish Giant’ Headlines New York Jewish Museum Exhibit

    Eddie Carmel, dubbed “The Jewish Giant” by American photographer Diane Arbus, is the centerpiece of a new exhibit opening April 11 at The Jewish Museum in New York. Arbus met Carmel, who was billed “The World’s Tallest Man,” at Hubert’s Dime Museum and Flea Circus in 1959 but waited until 1970 to photograph him at his parents’ home in the Bronx, according to the museum. The son of immigrants from Tel Aviv, Carmel posed for Arbus with his head bowed to [...]

    Read more →
  • Music US & Canada Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    Disney Hit ‘Frozen’ Gets Passover Themed Makeover With ‘Chozen’ (VIDEO)

    A Passover themed cover of hit songs Let It Go and Do You Want to Build a Snowman? from Disney’s Frozen has attracted tons of media buzz and a cool 65,ooo views on YouTube within days of going online. The work of Jewish a capella group Six13, the track is aptly named Chozen. We are celebrating “our freedom, our favorite festival, our fabulous fans, and aspiring Disney princesses everywhere” the group said. The Chozen music video tells the story of [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Retreat Gives Young Artists New Platform to Engage With Jewish Ideas

    Retreat Gives Young Artists New Platform to Engage With Jewish Ideas

    JNS.org – Many young Jewish artists struggle to define who they are personally, artistically, and religiously. Against the backdrop of that struggle, the recent Asylum Arts International Jewish Artists Retreat provided a space for some 70 young Jewish artists to explore Jewish ideas, to build community and a culture of reciprocity, and to learn skills to assist their career development. “We are trying to encourage and excite people to engage in Jewish themes,” says Rebecca Guber, director of Asylum Arts. [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Literature Darren Aronofsky Adds Psychological Depth, Little Else to ‘Noah’

    Darren Aronofsky Adds Psychological Depth, Little Else to ‘Noah’

    JNS.org – Has the era of large-scale biblical epics returned? Not since “The Ten Commandments” has there been so much torrential water on the big screen (not counting weather-related disaster films such as “The Impossible”) than in “Noah,” the latest blockbuster from writer and director Darren Aronofsky. “Noah” takes the traditional tale and splices it in an eco-friendly and psychologically driven plot. After Adam and Eve got booted out of the Garden of Eden and after Cain killed Abel, mankind [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.