Vice President of Tactical Intelligence Scott Stewart analyzes the latest edition of al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language jihadist magazine.
Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.
Last week, al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula released the fifth edition of “Inspire,” their English-language magazine. We’re going to take a look at “Inspire” now to see what it says about the organization.
Like many of the other editions of “Inspire,” this one has a wide range of articles. Some of the content is original, but much of it is borrowed from elsewhere. For example, there are two articles that reproduce speeches that were given by al Qaeda No. 2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri who’s an Egyptian doctor. One of the recurring themes we’ve seen in this magazine has been the theme of jihadists being radicalized in the West by this magazine but then conducting attacks in the West. This theme like in past editions has been echoed over and over and in fact we see at least three repetitions of it in this magazine.
The magazine also seeks to encourage these jihadists to conduct lone wolf attacks. Lone wolf assailants are really the most difficult type for government intelligence and security agencies to gather intelligence about. Really to find a lone wolf assailant, you need to monitor his activities closely and understand what’s going on inside his head if he doesn’t communicate to other people. Because of this, the lone wolf really presents a challenge to Western security and intelligence agencies.
Now, like the other editions of “Inspire” magazine, this magazine also is very slick production-wise. It’s meant to be appealing especially to younger aspiring jihadis in the English-speaking world. Places like the U.S., the U.K., Canada, even countries like Pakistan and India. One of the hooks that Samir Khan uses in this magazine to kind of draw in his readers is the use of lampoons with these fake advertisements that he puts in the magazine. In this current edition we see ads put in ridiculing Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan leader, also the Yemeni president, Saleh.
“Inspire” magazine has a regular feature called “Open Source Jihad.” And this is the feature that is intended to train these lone wolves and small cells in the West to conduct attacks and to provide them with the tools necessary to do attacks. However, in this edition of the magazine, the only article that’s in the “Open Source Jihad” section is an article on field-stripping the AK-47. And obviously that’s not a particularly useful skill for someone in the West looking to conduct a terrorist attack.
To help place “Inspire” in context, it’s important to remember that Samir Khan was raised in the United States and he was living in his parents’ house in North Carolina, publishing jihadist literature from the U.S. for several years. After receiving pressure from the FBI he moved over to Yemen and began publishing “Inspire.” But it’s important remember that he is really more of a jihadist cheerleader and not a real seasoned and battle-hardened veteran.