Inspire Magazine No. 11: Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Touts Its Influence

4 MINS READMay 31, 2013 | 12:00 GMT
A screenshot of the cover of Inspire Magazine's 11th edition.

The 11th edition of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine, subtitled "Who and Why," began to circulate the Internet on May 30. This issue of the English-language magazine focuses heavily on the April 15 Boston Marathon bombing and claims credit for influencing the two brothers responsible for the attack, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Overall, the edition underscores the persistent if low-level threats posed by grassroots jihadists, and the challenge governments face in eliminating lone-wolf attacks.

The purpose of the 11th edition appears to be twofold: First, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is seeking to trumpet Inspire's apparent role in motivating and guiding the Tsarnaev brothers. In an article entitled "Inspired by Inspire," Editor Yahya Ibrahim touted the widespread attention Inspire received after the Boston bombings, and the issue also included several media quotes connecting the Tsarnaev brothers to the magazine. Second, the Yemen-based jihadist group is seeking to encourage other Muslims living in the West to emulate the brothers. Thus, the "Who" in the edition's title refers to Muslims in the West. The "Why" refers to U.S. policy, which the issue discusses at length in the cover story.

In an article entitled "Message to the American People," Qasim al-Raymi, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's operations chief, writes:

Lastly, to the oppressed and subdued in America among the brothers of religion and creed. We encourage you to carry on with this way, be steadfast on this deen (faith). Carry out your obligations, defend your religion and follow in the footsteps of those who supported their religion and ummah whilst they are in their enemy's den.

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's mufti, or religious leader, a Saudi named Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, encourages readers to "have Tawakkul (reliance on Allah), surveil an enemy and pull the trigger, or detonate the 'kitchen stuff'. Indeed the sharpest of people are those who bury their acts in their trustworthy hearts." The involvement of al-Rubaish is significant because two previous theological commenters in Inspire — American-born Anwar al-Awlaki and Yemeni cleric Adel bin Abdullah al-Abab, the head of the group's Sharia Council — were killed by missile strikes.

In some ways, this edition of Inspire is reminiscent of the third and seventh editions of the magazine, which commemorated earlier attacks. In the third edition, published in November 2010, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula trumpeted the Oct. 29, 2010 attempt to attack targets in the United States — though the attack failed — using explosive devices hidden inside printer cartridges and shipped via air cargo. The seventh issue, published in September 2011, commemorated the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Like the third and seventh editions, which also bore "special issue" banners on their covers, this issue does not contain certain features that have appeared regularly in previous editions, such as the Open Source Jihad section, which aims to equip grassroots jihadists with the skills to conduct attacks in the West, or a question and answer section. However, the group recently published what it called The Lone Mujahid Pocketbook — a compilation of all the Open Source Jihad sections from previous editions.

The issue also contains a brief article by Mohammed al Sanani titled "An Eye for an Eye" that mentions the May 22 murder of British soldier Lee Rigby in London, complete with an iconic image of one of the alleged killers, Michael Adebolajo, with bloodied hands, a knife and a cleaver. Another brief article mentions the tornado that devastated Moore, Okla., on May 20. Ibrahim's ability to work these recent events into this edition demonstrates a nimbleness we have not seen in Inspire Magazine since the death of former editor Samir Khan in 2011. This indicates Ibrahim and his team are growing more comfortable with the publishing process.

The edition echoes a theme Stratfor has long discussed — the impossibility for Western governments of protecting every possible target from attack. In the cover story, an author called Abu Abdullah al-Moravid (likely a Moroccan based on his kunya, or honorific title) wrote:

It also seems that Obama will have to announce a new
type of Lone Jihad which is impossible to counter and stop, except when basic cooking ingredients and building material become illegal!

Yes, this is the only solution. A Lone Jihad operation like that of Boston Marathon requires nothing more than a few utensils, some matchsticks, a box of nails and a clock for timing. Another ingredient which I should mention is a group of American citizens gathered in a ceremony, sport event or just surprising time and place.

This focus underscores the importance of what we call grassroots defenders — citizens who detect and report suspicious behavior to the authorities. It also highlights the need to keep terrorism in perspective, bearing in mind its rarity as well as its inevitability to help deny the practitioners of terror such as al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and their grassroots followers the ability to magnify their reach and power.

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