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May 2, 2012 0

Al Qaeda’s Inspire Magazine Resurrected!

Two new issues of Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Peninsula’s English-language Inspire mag­a­zine were released today. The release of the mag­a­zines demon­strates AQAP’s recog­ni­tion of the pro­pa­ganda value of the Inspire fran­chise and serves as a reminder of the group’s con­tin­ued effort to tar­get west­ern audiences. 

They are the first issues to be released 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, dated fall 2011, focuses on the legit­i­macy of “tar­get­ing pop­u­la­tions of the coun­tries that are at war with the Mus­lims.” The fea­ture arti­cle, writ­ten by al-Awlaki, appears to be a piece promised in a pre­vi­ous issue of Inspire. “The pop­u­la­tions of the nations that are at war with the Mus­lims and espe­cially those who are at the lead such as the U.S., Britain and France,” al-Awlaki wrote, “should be tar­geted by the mujahidin in oper­a­tions that employ explo­sives, poi­sons, firearms and all other meth­ods that lead to inflict­ing the great­est harm on them…”

Inspire 9, dated “win­ter,” focuses on AQAP’s suc­cess in build­ing a strong­hold in Yemen. The issue also fea­tures pieces eulo­giz­ing al-Awlaki and Khan. Both issues were edited by “Yahya Ibrahim,” which some observers pre­vi­ously sug­gested was a pos­si­ble pseu­do­nym taken by Khan.

Both new issues of Inspire solicit reader involve­ment, wel­com­ing “cor­re­spon­dence, con­tri­bu­tions, pho­tographs and illus­tra­tions” and pro­vide con­tact infor­ma­tion for read­ers to sub­mit mate­ri­als. Issue 9 also calls for dis­sem­i­nat­ing the mag­a­zines as broadly as pos­si­ble and spec­u­lates that the FBI “might be try­ing to bring down sites that host the magazine.”

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April 26, 2012 0

Jihadists Solicit Help Online to Craft Their Message

The Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), an umbrella orga­ni­za­tion that dis­trib­utes videos, lit­er­a­ture and other mes­sages for Al Qaeda and other ter­ror­ist groups, has appar­ently posted a sub­mis­sion form on Google’s blog ser­vice solic­it­ing “par­tic­i­pa­tion, com­ments or sug­ges­tions” for its propaganda.

The form includes instruc­tions in both Eng­lish and Ara­bic for con­tact­ing the group, with reminders not to “men­tion your real name, address..etc. [sic]” and to include an email address “so we can reply to you.” The page also includes instruc­tions for send­ing encrypted messages.

GIMF’s call for “par­tic­i­pa­tion” not only demon­strates the con­tin­u­ing effort by Jihadist pro­pa­gan­dists to exploit main­stream social media plat­forms to com­mu­ni­cate with poten­tial fol­low­ers (Al Shabaab, for exam­ple, started using Twit­ter in Decem­ber 2011), but also how Jihadist media enti­ties con­tinue to rely on the skills and efforts of indi­vid­ual fol­low­ers to help craft their message.

For exam­ple, Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Peninsula’s English-language mag­a­zine Inspire reg­u­larly encour­ages read­ers to con­tribute arti­cles, quotes and images. It has also pro­vided con­tact infor­ma­tion for read­ers “inter­ested in con­tribut­ing to this mag­a­zine with any skills – be it writ­ing, research, edit­ing or advice” and sug­gested that indi­vid­u­als use the same encryp­tion pro­gram ref­er­enced by GIMF “in order to avoid detec­tion from the intel­li­gence ser­vices [sic].”

Mohamed Osman Mohamud, accused of attempt­ing to det­o­nate a vehi­cle he believed was laden with explo­sives at an Ore­gon Christ­mas tree light­ing cer­e­mony in 2010, is an exam­ple of some­one who responded to such solic­i­ta­tions. Not only did he allegedly write and send an arti­cle to Inspire (which was not pub­lished), he also sub­mit­ted pieces that were pub­lished in Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions, the self-described “first Eng­lish Jihad mag­a­zine” released by a col­lab­o­ra­tion of online ter­ror­ist sym­pa­thiz­ers, includ­ing Samir Khan. Khan pro­duced Inspire up until he was killed by a U.S. drone strike in Sep­tem­ber 2011 in Yemen.

Oth­ers have taken it upon them­selves to cre­ate jihadist pro­pa­ganda with­out nec­es­sar­ily uti­liz­ing estab­lished ter­ror­ist media out­lets, rely­ing on inter­net forums and other social media for dis­tri­b­u­tion of their mate­ri­als. For exam­ple, an April 2012 image of the New York sky­line with the mes­sage “Al Qaeda Com­ing Soon Again in New York” attracted wide­spread media atten­tion and prompted enhanced law enforce­ment vig­i­lance. The image, appar­ently cre­ated by an indi­vid­ual mem­ber of a jihadist forum, demon­strated the pro­pa­ganda value that can be cre­ated by indi­vid­u­als using com­mer­cially avail­able software.

While these mes­sages may lack the cachet of a “brand name” pro­pa­ganda dis­trib­uted by GIMF and sim­i­lar ter­ror­ist media pro­duc­ers, the mate­ri­als still attract atten­tion, cre­ate fear and encour­age oth­ers to play an active role in the cre­ation of pro­pa­ganda in sup­port of terror.

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February 9, 2012 0

Younes Abdullah Muhammad Pleads Guilty to Threatening “South Park” Creators

Update: On June 22, 2012, Muham­mad was sen­tenced to 11.5 years in prison.

Younes Abdul­lah Muham­mad, co-founder of the fringe extrem­ist Mus­lim orga­ni­za­tion Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim, pleaded guilty on Thurs­day for his role in threat­en­ing the cre­ators of the car­toon “South Park.” 

Muham­mad (a.k.a. Jesse Cur­tis Mor­ton) was arrested by Moroc­can author­i­ties in May 2011 after being charged in the U.S. with com­mu­ni­cat­ing online threats. His threats tar­geted Matt Stone and Trey Parker for their satir­i­cal depic­tion of the Prophet Muham­mad in an episode of their car­toon. In Octo­ber he was placed into Amer­i­can cus­tody and brought before a fed­eral judge in Vir­ginia to face charges.
Muham­mad helped Zachary Chesser, who was sen­tenced to 25 years in prison on a sim­i­lar charge, draft a state­ment con­tain­ing lan­guage jus­ti­fy­ing “the death of those who insult Islam or defame its prophet…” The state­ment was issued on behalf of Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim in response to the national atten­tion gar­nered by Chesser after he threat­ened the “South Park” cre­ators on a num­ber of online platforms.
Under Muhammad’s lead­er­ship, Rev­o­lu­tion Mus­lim dis­trib­uted anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist pro­pa­ganda at its street protests and online, which often included implicit and explicit threats of vio­lence. The group was active mostly in New York until the end of 2010, when Muham­mad moved to Morocco. Cur­rently, it oper­ates under the name Islam Pol­icy.
Muham­mad, who has a long his­tory of jus­ti­fy­ing vio­lence against any­one he views as an enemy of Islam, served as Rev­o­lu­tion Muslim’s most pro­lific writer. In addi­tion to his var­i­ous posts on the group’s web­site, he con­tributed to Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions, an online Eng­lish lan­guage mag­a­zine cre­ated by Samir Khan. Khan, who is bet­ter known for edit­ing Al Qaeda in the Ara­bian Peninsula’s (AQAP) English-language mag­a­zine, Inspire, was killed by a U.S. drone strike on Sep­tem­ber 30, 2011, two years after he moved to Yemen to align him­self with Al Qaeda.
In the inau­gural issue of Jihad Rec­ol­lec­tions, released in April 2009, Muham­mad expressed sup­port for Al Qaeda, writ­ing that the Sep­tem­ber 11 ter­ror­ist attacks “…were, for the most part, pos­i­tive and the results even bet­ter than expected.” He also called on like-minded Mus­lims to “exploit these results and advance the jihad… It is time to begin to think about the nec­es­sary next steps that must pred­i­cate the con­quer­ing of Rome.”

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