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March 4, 2013

New Inspire Magazine Hits Digital Newsstands

The tenth issue of Inspire magazine, released by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula last Thursday, offers its readers an array of ideas and advice for supporting the global jihadist movement.

In the issue, lone wolf attacks are specifically encouraged: “Praises [to] the Knights of Lone Jihad…You are Lethal! You are Devastating!” Would-be lone wolves are advised to engage in attacks on the road by causing traffic accidents and torching parked vehicles, as well as assassinating political leaders and former political leaders who may be less protected (American, British and French former political operatives and diplomats are mentioned by name).

Following Thursday’s release of Inspire, AQAP also released a compilation of the advice it has published for carrying out attacks as the “Lone Mujahid Pocketbook.”

Inspire also contains an interview with the American spokesman for Al Qaeda, Adam Gadahn. If the interview proves to be authentic, it is the first English-language message from Gadahn since a June 2011 video in which he called on American Muslims to launch lone wolf attacks on U.S. soil.  He has, however, more recently appeared in Arabic-language videos discussing the Arab Spring and Al Qaeda’s role in it.

Gadahn, who was a pioneer in the field of so-called “jihadi media,” reiterates its purported importance in the interview, calling on his fellow propagandists to “make every effort to reach out to Muslims both through new media like Facebook and Twitter as well as the traditional broadcast and print media.” 

In an apparent call for violence, Gadahn instructs “mujahideen around the world” to focus their efforts on “direct engagement at home and abroad with America and its NATO partners, particularly France and Britain.” 

Another article from the magazine, called “We Are All Usama,” which focuses on the need for Muslim unity in the face of insults by the West, was used by jihadist hackers to replace several university websites on Friday and over the weekend. 

The magazine continues to focus on the September 2011 deaths of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric who became a leading ideologue and commander of AQAP; and Samir Khan, who was believed to be responsible for producing the first issues of Inspire. Al-Awlaki and Khan, as well as a third individual named Abu Yazeed al-Qatari, are featured in a “letter to the editor” that praises the men for their commitment to jihad.

This issue is the first major media effort by AQAP in English since May 2012, when it released the last two issues of Inspire, a recruiting pamphlet, and a collection of Osama bin Laden statements

Although Inspire continues to solicit contributions from its readers, digital copies of the magazine appear to be secured which doesn’t allow for the magazine to be printed. This may be an effort to prevent its use as evidence in terrorism cases; the magazine has often been found in the possession of terrorism suspects as both a source of radicalizing material and for its easy-to-follow instructions for carrying out attacks. 

In a further move to raise the level of security, AQAP also issued a statement on jihadist forums over the weekend indicating that it would no longer communicate with individual supporters planning attacks via email and urged those already in contact to stop immediately.

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May 16, 2012

AQAP Releases Advice for Western Recruits

A recently released English-language booklet that both describes life in Yemen as an Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) fighter and encourages westerners to carry out attacks inside their home countries is the latest in a series of AQAP publications demonstrating its commitment to reaching western audiences with its violent message.

The publication, “Expectations Full,” was purportedly written by Samir Khan, the American terror propagandist who was killed in a September 2011 drone strike in Yemen. The booklet encourages “brothers in the West to wage jihad inside their countries” because the effect is “much greater, it always embarrasses the enemy, and these type [sic] of individual decision-making attacks are nearly impossible for them to contain.”

The phrase “individual decision-making attacks” is an apparent reference to the “Lone Wolf” phenomenon, where individuals self-radicalize, often online, without any face-to-face interactions with established terrorist groups.

Despite advocating for individuals to carry out attacks in the West, the booklet is mostly devoted to giving “fellow Muslims a sense of the live [sic] of a mujahid,” including issues such as cleanliness, living on base, secrecy, injuries, training and family life.

“Now that you know what to expect [abroad],” the booklet concludes, “you can compare that with doing jihad in the west, weigh the pros and cons, and make your decision.”

Over the last several years, English-language terrorist propaganda has given conflicting messages about where it is most preferable to carry out attacks. AQAP’s English-language terrorist magazine, Inspire, believed to be produced by Khan until his death, repeatedly encouraged its readers to carry out attacks wherever they reside. Al Qaeda spokesperson Adam Gadahn similarly encouraged Americans to attack within the U.S. in a June 2011 message. At the same time, Omar Hammami, an American spokesperson for Al Shabaab, has called on his listeners to come “to the lands of jihad as soon as possible.”

Although AQAP claims that Khan is the author of “Expectations Full,” the document itself bears no indications or hallmarks of his writing. In fact, in one of the sections the author discusses living on bases without access to any electronics, which would be ironic for someone who is best known for creating online propaganda. AQAP may be trying to leverage Khan’s reputation as an American who made “it to the front lines of jihad” in an effort to reach out to Western audiences and spread its call to fight, preferably while staying at home.

The release of the publication closely follows the release of two new issues of the terrorist magazine Inspire and a tribute to Osama bin Laden, also in English, earlier this month. The rapid succession of English-language propaganda comes after a lull of several months and is an indication of renewed attempts by AQAP to reach and recruit a Western audience.

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