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June 15, 2016

Anti-Gay Rhetoric in English-Language ISIS and Al Qaeda Magazines

The claim by Orlando shooter Omar Mateen that he acted on behalf of ISIS in perpetrating a shooting at a gay club draws attention to the role of anti-gay sentiment in Islamic extremist ideology and propaganda.

ADL analyzed past issues of Dabiq, ISIS’s English language magazine, and Inspire magazine, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)’s English-language magazine, to determine the scope of anti-gay rhetoric and threat in those publications. While these publications are only a limited sample of the overall field of online English-language propaganda distributed by foreign terrorist organizations, they serve to demonstrate the issues and language that these organizations use when targeting English-speaking audiences.

Our analysis indicates that anti-gay rhetoric played a smaller role than may have been expected. Neither group preached hatred of the LGBT population nearly as much as it railed against other groups, such as Jews and the U.S., for example. However,  both magazines did feature examples of anti-gay rhetoric and used homosexuality as a synonym for sin and immorality.

Cover of the first issue of Dabiq, ISIS's English language magazine

Cover of the first issue of Dabiq magazine

Dabiq (ISIS)

Dabiq, ISIS’s English-language magazine, was first released in July 2014. Since then, there have been 13 issues, with the most recent released in April 2016.

Dabiq included anti-gay rhetoric with much more frequency than Inspire. In addition to using homosexuality as an example of sin and immorality, Dabiq also had at least three quotes in which homosexuality was associated with the death penalty. The increased number of references and the violent nature of the references are consonant with ISIS’s broader propaganda, which has been more overt than Al Qaeda propaganda in highlighting violence against individuals and groups ISIS has targeted. This has included images of ISIS members murdering men accused of being gay by throwing them off of buildings.

Examples of statements in Dabiq that link homosexuality with a punishment of death include:

  • “These sons fell into fāhishah (sodomy), leading them into espionage (as happened before in Sudan with others). Their treachery led to tens of airstrikes killing many brothers.” (Issue 6)
  • Likewise during his khilāfah, Abū Bakr…gathered a number of his advisors from amongst the Sahābah and consulted them about the case of a man found guilty of committing sodomy. The one who had the most severe position was ‘Alī … who said, “This is a sin that no nation had committed before except for one nation, and you know how Allah dealt with them. I view that we should burn him alive.” (Issue 7)
  •  “Knowing this and that he [a man ISIS is advocating should be assassinated] admires the secularist US Constitution and does not oppose sodomite marriage, it should be easy to grasp that he is nothing but another murtadd imām of kufr (apostate and leader of infidels).” (Issue 11)

Examples that include homosexuality as a general example of sin or immorality include:

  • “So the fornicators, the sodomites, the abandoners of jihād, the people of bid’ah (heresy), and the drunkards, these people and the mingling with them is harmful for the religion of Islam.” (Issue 3)
  • “’Liberal’ concepts that the kuffār (apostates) apply across the board for achieving evil, such as political pluralism, freedom of religion, and acceptance of sodomites. (Issue 3)
  • “If one’s children and grandchildren don’t fall into kufr (apostacy), they are under the constant threat of fornication, sodomy, drugs, and alcohol.” (Issue 3)
  • “They used their entertainment industry to mock and belittle those against the sexually deviant fringe, used their shirk (falsehood)-based parliaments to legalize sodomite marriage, used their education system to corrupt their children right from the kindergarten level by introducing books into the curriculum to combat “homophobia,” and used their churches and clergy to bless these sins via ‘revisionism.’ (Issue 7)
  • …All sinful acts are openly committed among you and for most of you they have become part of your nature. This includes committing shirk with Allah, fornication, and sodomy (Issue 10)
  • “If the majority [in a democracy] decide sodomy is legal, it is legalized even though it contradicts Allah’s Sharī’ah.” (Issue 11)
  • “Part of the pagan democratic religion is what has been labeled (sic) in this era as “human rights,” including the “right” to commit apostasy, devil-worship, sodomy, and for­nication.” (Issue 11)
  • “[The Muslim] is a stranger amongst Christians and liberals. He is a stranger amongst fornicators and sodomites.” (Issue 12)
  • “So the fornicators, the sodomites, the abandoners of jihād, the people of bid’ah (heresy), and the drunkards, these people and the mingling with them is harmful for the religion of Islam.” (Issue 13)
Cover of the first issue of Inspire, AQAP's English-language magazine

Cover of the first issue of Inspire magazine

Inspire (AQAP)

Inspire magazine was first released in July 2010. Since then, there have been 15 issues, with the most recent released in May 2016.

We discovered at least three references to homosexuality in those 15 issues of Inspire.

In the third issue, released in November 2010, the magazine noted that a gay and lesbian synagogue had been among the locations targeted in AQAP’s 2010 cargo plane bomb plot, in which the group attempted to detonate explosives in packages with Chicago addresses in a cargo plane. Although the threat appeared to be directed against Jews more than against the LGBT community, it can be seen as a threat specifically to LGBT Jews as well.

  • “We in al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula will never forget Palestine,” it said, “…So we listed the address of the ‘Congregation Or Chadash,’ a Gay and Lesbian Syngaogue on one of our packages. The second package was sent to ‘Congregation B’nai Zion.’

In the magazine’s 8th and 10th issues, homosexuality is listed as an example of immorality.

  • A quote in the 8th issue stated, “Immorality and corruption have seeped deep into the roots of the Pakistani Army and it is not uncommon to find alcoholics, gamblers, adulterers, homosexuals and drug traffickers amongst its lower and higher ranks.”
  • A quote in the 10th issue contrasted “The freedom of living in peace with adequate resources” to “the freedom of adultery, homosexuality, interest and other impurities.”

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May 19, 2016

Latest Issue of Inspire Magazine Encourages Small Scale Attacks

Inspire 15 cover image

Inspire 15

The 15th issue of InspireAl Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zine, released on May 14, provides readers with instructions for murdering “the intelligentsia, economic and influential personalities of America.” Such attacks, claims the magazine, are “easy options that do not require huge efforts or man power, but the result is parallel to the big operations or even more.”

This incitement to kill individuals is the same attack strategy that was provided in the 14th issue of Inspire magazine (released in September 2015), but the 15th issue provides additional suggestions for making bombs to conduct the assassinations, including package bombs, small bombs under cars, and bombs that can be attached to a doorframe.

As in pre­vi­ous issues of Inspire, the mag­a­zine uses anti-Semitism and resentment of Israel to mobi­lize the anger and sup­port needed to encour­age indi­vid­u­als to sus­tain AQAP and per­pe­trate attacks. ADL pub­lished an updated report on anti-Semitism in Islamic extrem­ist propaganda in 2015.

This exploitation of anti-Semitic and anti-Israel sentiment was particularly evident in the article, “O Knife Revolution, Head Toward America.” In it, AQAP strives to export the current mode of Palestinian terror attacks in Israel to the U.S. by asking, “Where are the zealous Muslims in America, who clearly see their Muslim brothers in Palestine being tortured? It is because of this painful torture, that the blessed Knife Uprising has surfaced. Then way is it that you just sit and wait, with your hands tied up?”

That article further utilizes anti-Semitism to encourage attacks against the U.S. “It is no secret that the first guardian, supporter, and greatest inciter to the Jews are the Americans,” it states. It goes on to directly threaten Jews, asking “How many Jews are there in America, Europe and other kufr (apostate) countries? So take matters in hand and follow the advice of your Prophet, if any of you gets hold of a Jew anywhere, let him finish him off.”

An article in Inspire 15 Encourages Domestic Attacks

An article in Inspire 15 encourages knife attacks in the U.S. modeled after attacks undertaken by Palestinians in Israel.

Similarly, the article, “Let us Unite for Palestine,” clearly attempts to transfer anger against Israel to attacks against the U.S. by asserting “The liberation of Jerusalem…requires…two things: Firstly: Striking the West…. Secondly: Establishing a Muslim state in Egypt and the Levant.” AQAP is more interested in attacking the West and securing a foothold in Egypt and Syria than in attacking Israel, so the magazine tries to convince its supporters that these goals are inherently a part of destroying the State of Israel.

Yet another article, “Inside Obama’s Rationality,” suggests a conspiracy theory of Jewish influence in American politics: “everyone competes in pleasing the Jews, even the so-called rational Presidents compete with each other in proving who is the most biased, irrational, partisan president when it comes to supporting the Jews.”

Other articles directly promote any sort of lone wolf attacks against the U.S., while striving to ensure that Al Qaeda can receive credit for individual actions. The article “Jihad Upon Clear Insight” states “one can benefit from the publication of As-Sahab foundation (an Al Qaeda media foundation)…It explains the importance of lone jihad and its impact upon the enemy…. And he can also benefit from Inspire Magazine. A Lone Mujahid and others should know that this knowledge is not less important than the science of weaponry and how to use them, how to make explosives and charges.”

As noted, the cover article, “Professional Assassinations,” provides instructions for surveilling influential individuals and then building bombs to murder them.

Inspire is per­haps the most noto­ri­ous Al Qaeda pro­pa­ganda vehi­cle. It has played a role in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of mul­ti­ple domes­tic extrem­ists, includ­ing the Tsar­naev broth­ers of the Boston Marathon bomb­ing), Jose Pimentel, who attempted a bomb­ing in New York, and Abdel Daoud, who attempted a bomb­ing in Chicago.


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September 21, 2015

New AQAP Inspire Magazine Encourages Lone Wolf Attacks

Issue 14 of AQAP's Inspire Magazine

Issue 14 of AQAP’s Inspire Magazine

The 14th issue of InspireAl Qaeda in the Ara­bian Penin­sula (AQAP)’s Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zine, released on September 9 to coincide with the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, incites Americans and others living in the West to perpetrate lone-wolf attacks.“We at Inspire, and in the cause of the events of 9/11 encourage the Muslims in the West to join the Lone Jihad caravan,” reads the Editor’s Letter at the start of the magazine, “the caravan that has and always will continue to trouble and bring nightmares to the west (sic).”

As in previous issues of Inspire, the magazine uses anti-Semitism to mobilize the anger and support needed to encourage individuals to sustain AQAP and perpetrate attacks. ADL recently published a new report on anti-Semitism in Islamic extremist propaganda.

One article in the new issue states that the 9/11 attack “in context [was] a general defense on our Ummah [Muslim community], that has been assaulted by the Jews and supported by America.” Similarly, another article stated that terrorism “give[s] joy and happiness to…all those hurt by America, bearer of evil, oppression and the protector of the Jews.”

A third article, titled “The Corner,” focused on anti-Israel sentiments as a means to rile anger against the U.S. The article began by stating that, “Tracking AIPAC annual events, one gets a sense of a spiritual bond between America and Israel.” It went on to claim that “In all AIPAC meetings, America’s tone towards Israel has been of blind support. Reassuring the Jews that whatever it takes or whatever crime they commit, America will always back them.”

Rehashing claims made in an August AQAP video that called for attacks on the U.S., one article says that “There is no stronger evidence than the issue of the Holocaust in which there is no room for freedom of expression or ideas,” implying that if Western free speech allows for criticism of Islam, the West must also encourage delegitimization of the Holocaust to avoid hypocrisy.

This issue of Inspire also attempted to harness popular anger about injustices against African Americans in the U.S., equating “American oppression towards the Blacks today” to “oppression…exercised against the Muslims today.” The article calls on African Americans to “review your actions and to take a stand against these crimes” by condemning the actions of the U.S. and the State of Israel and then suggests that they, too, commit acts of terrorism as described in the magazine: “we at Inspire bring to you military consultation, one may refer back to the previous issues to find appropriate military ideas.”

During the protests in Ferguson, Missouri, terror supporters (and particularly supporters of ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) regularly shared statements online attempting to capitalize on the unrest and promote their version of Islam as better than and more equality than American democracy. There is no reason to believe that members of the African American community or others sympathetic to the injustices in the U.S. criminal system took those messages seriously, as there is no reason to believe they will take these messages from AQAP seriously.

Other articles and graphics in the magazine praise the 9/11 attacks, the Boston Marathon bombing and the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Inspire has been particularly notorious for its provision of bomb-making instructions. The 14th   issue provides directions for building homemade pipe-bombs to be used in assassination attempts. Specifically, the magazine advises targeting economically influential Americans including Ben Shalom Barnanek (sic), Robert James Shiller, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Larry Joseph, Charlie and David Koch, Sam Walton, Sheldon Adelson, and Michael Bloomberg. As if issuing a ransom note, the article suggests that “whosoever wants to secure himself and wealth” should remove their money from U.S. banks, invest their wealth outside U.S. soil and “declare via media that they are far from American policies towards Muslim (sic) and America’s support for Israel.

Inspire is perhaps the most notorious Al Qaeda propaganda vehicle. It has played a role in the rad­i­cal­iza­tion of mul­ti­ple domes­tic extrem­ists, includ­ing the Tsar­naev broth­ers of the Boston Marathon bombing), Jose Pimentel, who attempted a bombing in New York, and Abdel Daoud, who attempted a bombing in Chicago.

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