Political Analysis

Second Extremist “Inspire” Webzine Causes Controversy

The “Inspire” online English language magazine, purportedly issued by Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) recently issued its second edition, with much of its contents concerning events in Yemen, including the recent skirmishes in Abyan, as well as much of its literature dedicated to radicalisation.

The webzine was produced by “Al-Malahem Media”, the AQAP media and propaganda arm, and features a dateline of “Fall 1431 / 2010”, although reports first surfaced of its appearance on Tuesday 12th October – the 10th anniversary of the USS Cole bombing in the port of Aden.

Media reports since have picked up on the disturbing features of the webzine, such as advice on how to “mow down” enemies by fixing sharp objects to a pickup truck.

The first issue, released summer 2010, caused similar controversy, with basic guidelines on how to make makeshift explosives.

The first magazine was “clearly intended for the aspiring Jihadist in the US or UK who may be the next Fort Hood murderer,” said Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

Riedel was referring to the US Army Major, psychiatrist Nidal Hasan, who conducted a mass shooting against other US troops at Fort Hood. Hasan was later discovered to have had prior email correspondence with Anwar Al-Awlaki, a renegade US cleric now thought to be living in Yemen.

Anwar Al-Awlaki has purportedly contributed two articles to this edition of Inspire, and is currently reported to be on the US government’s “kill / capture” list.

Al-Awlaki’s listing on such a list has not only caused defensive resentment within certain religious circles in Yemen, but also embittered a Yemeni human rights group, the HOOD organization, out of principles.

Many, however, believe Al-Awlaki’s status to be exaggerated. Inspire has also met with equal criticism.

“There is nothing particularly new or uniquely worrying about the magazine’s content,” said Thomas Hegghammer, of the Norwegian Defence Research Establishment.

“Without signals intelligence it is extremely difficult to determine the precise nature of the link between the editors and the AQAP leadership. Judging from the amount of recycled materials in Inspire, I would be surprised if the AQAP connection is very strong,” he added, referring to the first issue.

This second issue, however, features intimate photography of the anti-government troops from the recent operations in Abyan, in the South of Yemen, including the corpses of some Yemeni security forces. Although it is unclear whether these photos were taken especially for the webzine or if they are simply circulating around Jihadist websites.

Experts assess that the main target audience, however, is not from within Yemen, but rather from English-speaking countries.

“The selection of political reportage and forensic linguistic markers suggest the magazine will appeal more to disaffected youths in the US, more than other countries,” an anonymous analyst said.

He explained, “You don’t find many pickup trucks in the UK. It largely discusses American foreign policy in the Islamic world, and US domestic policy. There’s even a screen-shot of an Apple Mac ‘Safari’ internet viewer which has an American flag where the webpage’s country and server location goes.”