ATbar Digital Jihad: Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State - Dabiq vs. Inspire

Digital Jihad: Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State - Dabiq vs. Inspire

20/07/2015 | by Vallee, Charles  

On July 11th, 2010, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula released its first-ever English digital magazine, Inspire, designed to present issues facing the Islamic community as a result of western oppression. Its goal: as its name suggests, to inspire disenfranchised Muslims in western countries to carry out attacks against the West, most prominently the United States, in the hope of terrorizing America and its allies into retreating from the world stage. Although Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula was not the first to spearhead the publishing of an English jihadist magazine, Inspire’s quality, creativity, and most importantly, effectiveness, are unmatched by any of its predecessors. With advertisements, interactive sections, and a sharp layout equivalent to the world’s most famous publications, Inspire incites the impetus of the lone wolf to wreak havoc upon the United States. Currently, Al-Qaeda’s weakened central leadership wields far less capability to carry out 9/11-esque attacks, a fact that puts pressure on the group to regain its post-9/11 glory. Thus, instead of meticulously planning large-scale attacks from safe havens in Afghanistan’s tribal regions, Al-Qaeda’s prominence on the world stage largely depends on its ability to inspire individuals unknown to intelligence agencies—specifically in America, Britain, France, and Canada— to inflict maximum damage upon western societies. The magazine provides the religious justification, leadership advice, and most importantly, recipe, to succeed in this respect.

June 1, 2014, the focus shifted from Inspire to the emergence of a new magazine labeled The Islamic State Report, a publication fronted by the former Al-Qaeda splinter group that once carried its name. As time progressed, and Abu Bakr announced the creation of the Caliphate on the first day of Ramadan (June 28, 2014), ISIS presented a newer, sleeker, and more streamlined magazine in order to outline its goals, ideology, and appeal. Its name: Dabiq. Unlike Inspire, The Islamic State’s magazine comes in a variety of European languages— in addition to English—in the hope of galvanizing and radicalizing the largest support base possible. Its introductory photograph portrays two American soldiers carrying a wounded comrade surrounded by photo-shopped flames. Its title: Until the Crusader Army Burns in Dabiq.

The Islamic State’s digital magazine gets its name from a town in Syria that wields tremendous religious significance, as one of Mohammad’s ancient prophecies sites Dabiq as the location where Muslims will defeat the Crusaders in a battle that will erase the prolonged western oppression of the Ummah. The organization derives this interpretation from the Hadith[8], which describes Dabiq as the location of Armageddon between Christians and Muslims. The magazine is littered with high-quality photographs, perfect grammar, and articles by Muslim clerics to boast the legitimacy and appeal of immigrating to the Islamic State. However, Inspire and Dabiq present completely different narratives regarding their respective organizations.  Most prominently, Dabiq and Inspire present stark contrasts in five main groups: ideology, call to action, methods of motivation, views on the Arab spring, and lastly, views of each other.

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