In June 2010, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) published the first issue of an English-language magazine. Although this was not the first magazine published by the organization's media branch, Sada Al-Malahem, or by other Al-Qaeda affiliates, this was the first magazine written entirely in the English language and aimed at both Muslims and non-Muslims living in the West. The magazine was named Inspire, with the intention of inspiring its readers to join the cause of global jihad. Although the magazine was intended to be shared over the Internet, it was designed in a graphic manner not so different from that of “normal” Western media publications.
Inspire magazine is part of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s media foundation, which was established to promote the ideology of the organization. This it accomplishes through various media outlets, including Web-based magazines. The initial staff of Inspire included both local Yemeni Muslims and American Muslims, specifically Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan, who through their experience and knowledge of the West, edited the magazine to appeal to a Western audience.
This paper will provide an analysis of the seven issues of the magazine published to date, in light of the agenda of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (hereinafter, AQAP). This will be done by examining the background of AQAP’s media establishment and the inception of Inspire itself, as well as by taking a more thorough look at five different elements presented in the magazine, among them AQAP’s ideology; various strategies and themes; methods of operation; and knowledge.
The most important of these elements, however, are ideology, strategy and themes. The distinction among the three is thus: while ideology is the most stable within the organization, strategy is the way the organization executes that ideology, and themes change, usually according to circumstances, as they correspond to strategy. The chapter on ideology will explain Salafi-jihadist ideology as it relates to the ideology of AQAP, as demonstrated in examples from different issues of the magazine, which contain articles supportive of the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, and of conducting jihad in general. The strategy chapter will be based on both previously-published research and articles from the magazine, and will revolve around the global fight against the US with the intention of freeing all occupied Muslim land, the fight against the Yemeni government, and the fight against the Shiites. The chapter discussing the themes presented in Inspire will draw on those covered by the seven issues of the magazine analyzed, among them the need for individual jihad, as presented by Abu Mus’ab al-Suri, and the myth of the martyr. As noted, these themes, unlike strategies, changed according to events in Yemen as well as trends in global jihad.
All seven issues of Inspire magazine published interviews and speeches of Al-Qaeda’s leaders. While some were exclusive interviews with prominent leaders, others were reprints of previous publications, some even several years old.This paper will show how the content provided by AQAP’s leaders was used to fit Inspire’s themes and current events.
This paper will also show how the authors and editors of the magazine have been providing its readers with the specific knowledge and modus operandi for carrying out the strategies of AQAP. The analysis will focus on terrorist operations as described and explained in the issues of the magazine. An in-depth review of operating manuals, ways of joining jihad, and Do-It-Yourself bomb-making instructions will serve as the final chapter of this paper.