This is an ICSR Insight by Senior Research Fellow, Shiraz Maher
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released the seventh edition of its English language magazine, Inspire.
• This edition is dedicated to commemorating and celebrating the ten year anniversary of 9/11. It hails the terrorist attacks as ‘the greatest special operation of all time’.
• Grand Central Terminal in New York is pictured along with a statement from Anwar al-Awlaki warning ‘Targeting the populations of countries that are at war with the Muslims’.
• An ‘exclusive interview’ with the American citizen Adam Gadahn is promised in forthcoming editions.
• Edition seven is among the shortest versions of Inspire produced by AQAP and is missing many of the features found in previous editions. For example, there is no ‘Open Source Jihad’ section offering bomb making advice. There are also very few articles in this edition, with the majority of it being devoted to a picture essay of 9/11 and its aftermath.
• September 11 is remembered throughout the magazine. It features in the editorial, a dedicated article, and a picture essay carrying images of not just the 9/11 attacks, but also of terrorist atrocities in Madrid and London.
• Inspire’s editor-in-chief, Yahya Ibrahim, writes:
Shaykh Usama might be dead but his deeds are not. 9/11 has left a permanent scar on the American psyche and will live long after in the hearts of every American. The pain, suffering and agony that Shaykh Usama brought to America is fair payback for the pain, suffering and agony that America has brought to millions of Muslims around the world, in Palestine, in Iraq, in Afghanistan and elsewhere. America got part of what it deserves… 9/11 was neither the beginning of the war between the Muslims and the West nor was it the end. It was merely an episode in a long, protracted war…
• The attacks are framed as retaliation for American foreign policy in the Middle East, specifically mentioning its support for Israel, the sanctions on Iraq which followed the first Gulf War, and the presence of American servicemen in the Arabian Peninsula.
• In what has become a recurrent theme in AQAP output, attention is also given to the economic cost of the conflict. Ibrahim suggests that 30-40% of the U.S. deficit stems from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He argues:
This means that the damage isn’t over as it would be with a war that was already paid for; rather, it would carry on as long as America is still in debt. It is a likely scenario that the U.S. has got itself so deep in trouble because of the war on al Qaeda that it would bring its demise, first economically and then militarily.
For us it’s just a matter of time. The question is not whether America will fall or not. America is already falling; it just didn’t hit the ground yet.
• Ibrahim is clearly aware of the ongoing controversy in America surrounding the Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) enhanced screening procedures. He argues that this is the manifestation of Osama bin Laden’s statement that America and its allies should not dream of security while Muslims do not enjoy the same. He writes:
To see the old American woman narrate her suffering at the hands of security officials and the mother at what she saw as a molestation of her child by the new enhanced pat down measures is to see the fulfillment of Shaykh Usama’s oath.
• The magazine condemns Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for doubting al-Qaeda was behind 9/11.
The Media Conflict
• American citizen Samir Khan writes a short article about ‘the media conflict’ in which he observes, ‘a powerful media production is as hard hitting as an operation in America’. It also accuses America of being unable to respond to this aspect of jihadist activity.
• Khan states that al-Qaeda’s media strategy is to focus on ‘quality productions’ while pursuing a ‘media dissemination strategy’. He boasts:
Thousands of productions were produced and dispersed to both the net and real world. Something that was produced thousands of feet above in the mountains of Afghanistan was found distributed in the streets of London and California. Ideas that disseminated from the lips of the mujahidin’s leaders were carried out in Madrid and Times Square.