On January 16, 2011, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) media wing Al-Malahem released the fourth issue of the English-language jihadist magazine "Inspire."
On its cover, the 67-page issue, which is dated 1431/2010, features a photo of a man robed in black aiming a weapon at the viewer. The cover story, by Anwar Al-Awlaki, is titled "The Ruling of Dispossessing the Disbelievers['] Wealth in Dar Al-Harb"; the blurb reads, "Is it halal [i.e. permissible] to dispossess the wealth of the disbelievers in America and other Western countries?" Also noted on the cover are stories on "Ruling on Targeting Non-Muslim Civilians and Yemeni Soldiers" by Sheikh Al-Abbab, and an article on "Destroying Buildings" by an "AQ [i.e. Al-Qaeda] Chief."
Inside, the content is divided into new articles, including "The Central Issue" by American citizen Samir Khan, and formerly published content by members of the Al-Qaeda leadership, including Osama bin Laden and Adam Gadahn. Also in this issue are installments in serials from previous "Inspire" issues, among them "What to Expect in Jihad (3)" by Mukhtar Hassan, "The Jihadi Experiences: The Military Theory of Open Fronts" by Abu Mus'ab Al-Suri, and the first installment in a new series on weapons training, as well as a section on how to assist those waging online jihad.
An overarching theme throughout this issue of "Inspire" is outreach, as exemplified by the numerous offers and suggestions to readers in the West to contact Al-Qaeda - including the provision of direct email addresses. Also in this issue are many subtle and intimated threats, on multiple pages; they include threats against the White House and the Capitol building, as well as Time Square in New York, by means of machine guns and anthrax, and more.
The Lead Editorial
A letter from the editor, marked "Founder of Inspire" and titled "Rafidha Focus," explains that AQAP is currently targeting the Shi'a, which is legitimate as they form "the third side of the triangle of enemies for the Muslim ummah," along with the "Zionist-Crusader alliance" and the "apostate regimes." In the letter, AQAP takes credit for "the attack on the American Embassy in Sana'a," "attacks on Western tourists in Hadramout and Marib [Yemen]," "the Umar al Farouk operation [i.e. the 2009 Christmas Day airplane bombing attempt]," and "finally Operation Hemorrhage [i.e. the recent attempted parcel-bomb attack on Chicago synagogues]." The letter continues, "In this end of the year issue, we have included a few fatawa regarding the issue of targeting non-Muslim civilians and taking their wealth, both of which are issues that are hardly ever addressed across the mosques and Islamic institutions in the West. It is important for all Muslims to study these issues since the West labels your brothers as terrorists acting upon these rulings, even though they are well based in classical fiqh manuals. We plan on releasing more fatawa on these issues exploring them in greater depth, In Sha'Allah."
WikiLeaks, Attacks in London and Sweden - Good News for Al-Qaeda
Following a statement, "No. 29," titled "Operation for Defending Ahl As-Sunnah," the "NewsFlash" feature, which also appeared in previous editions, notes the following:
Â· WikiLeaks - which "shook the ground underneath America and her allies"
Â· Roshonara Choudhry - the young British woman who, inspired by watching YouTube clips of Anwar Al-Awlaki, stabbed a British MP. The magazine noted, "We ask Allah to free her and the brothers to conduct operations to force her release."
Â· Taimour Abdulwahhab al-Abdaly - who "conducted a martyrdom operation in Stockholm, Sweden, shaking up the entire EU. The iron fist of jihad is more apparent than ever in the midst of the Kuffar [infidels]."
Letters to the Editor
The letters to the editor section, titled "Inspire Feedback," provides "a chance for the world to respond" to the magazine. The following are excerpts from two letters:
"The release of your majestic magazine brought tears to my eyes, brothers. I cannot convey how excited I am to see such wonderful words pour from the page like the blood from a kafir [infidel]. The words are blessed by Allah, and will give much strength to the brothers here among the Americans." [Hamza]
"I am a follower of your efforts online and am impressed with all of the work you do for the sake of Allah. Like many others, I have been following the news and learned it was initially difficult for you to deliver the message. Alhamdulillah the infidels were not able to stop us and the magazine was published, and Insha'Allah they will not be able to stop us in the future so long as we continue to persist. My noble brothers, you have proven how determined you are to deliver the message and information that other brothers may find useful in conducting their operations. Not only that, I find your magazine to be a wealth of knowledge, however, it also serves as a motivational tool whereas it will make the brothers wait impatiently for the upcoming issues, Insha'Allah. Our beloved Inspire magazine has been making waves across the internet and brothers across the globe have received your message, praise be to Allah. I ask Allah to protect you and make you successful in continuing to deliver the message." [Ahmed]
Article by American Citizen Samir Khan: "The Central Issue"
One of the feature articles, "The Central Issue," is by an American, Samir Khan, whom U.S. intelligence officials believe to be the principal author of "Inspire." It is noteworthy that no photo of Khan accompanies the article. The article, which is five pages long, explains that "the central issue - what actually makes a jihadi into what he is" is not the Israeli "mass slaughter" of the Palestinians or "the atrocious actions of America towards the Muslim world," but "that jihad is individually obligatory (farÄ‘ 'ayn) on all Muslims from East to West until all of our lands are freed." He then praises "'the godfather of jihad,' the Islamic scholar Abdullah Yusuf Azzam," and his book "Defense of the Muslim Lands: The First Obligation After Faith."
Re-Printed Content by Osama bin Laden and Adam Gadahn
Other issues of "Inspire" have included previously released addresses and articles by Al-Qaeda leaders, and this issue is no exception. Content reprinted here includes Osama bin Laden's 2004 address to the American people and a address by Al-Qaeda's American spokesman Adam Gadahn from October 10, 2010 titled "Know that Jihad is Your Duty." This last article is identified as being taken from a previous Al-Sahab release, "The Arabs and Muslims: Between the Conferences of Desertion... and the Individual Duty of Jihad."
Interview with Senior AQAP Member
Like previous issues, this issue also includes an interview with a senior AQAP member. This edition's interview, with Sheikh Adil Al-Abbab, is titled "Q&A with Sheikh Adil Al-Abbab on Targeting Non-Muslim Civilians and Yemeni Soldiers"; in it, Al-Abbab also explains Al-Qaeda's rationale regarding jihad against Christians and Jews. To the last question, "What is your advice to the Muslims in the West?" Al-Abbab answers, "[T]o support the mujahideen in any front of jihad with your wealth and selves."
New Terrorists As Inspiration for Al-Qaeda Followers in the West
The next article, "Roshonara & Taimour: Followers of the Borderless Loyalty," by Muhammad Al-Sana'ani, is headed by an image of an open knife. Focusing on the perpetrator of the December 2010 Stockholm suicide bombing, Talmour Abdulwahab al-Abdaly, and Roshonara Choudhry, the young British woman who in May 2010 attempted to assassinate a British MP, the article states that jihadists need not travel far for jihad, as they can wage it easily at home in the West. The article ends by stating: "We say to the kuffar [infidels]... no matter the security precautions you may take, you cannot kill a borderless idea."
Also included in this issue of the magazine are articles on "Inspiration," such as "Which Is Better: Martyrdom or Victory?" and stories on jihad, such as "The Jihad in Abyan" by Abu Zakaria Al-Eritri. This story includes an eyewitness account of U.S. drones missing their targets, and reports on Yemeni soldiers misinforming the U.S. military about Al-Qaeda.
Another installment in "The Jihadi Experiences" series by Al-Qaeda military theorist Abu Mus'ab Al-Suri, titled "Military Theory of Open Fronts," is also featured in the magazine; the author states that the article is from a series of lectures given in 2000. In this installment, Al-Suri sets out the "necessary preconditions for success in open-front jihad," enumerating geographical preconditions, population factors, and political factors. The article mentions the next installment, in the upcoming fifth issue of "Inspire," which is to be an in-depth study on individual jihad.
Open Source Jihad
The next section of the magazine is "Open Source Jihad," showing the U.S. Capitol building. In previous issues, this section featured articles on bomb-making in "your mother's kitchen" and on carrying out lone wolf attacks, giving ideas such as driving trucks into crowded areas.
A definition of the "Open Source Jihad" section is given as:
"A resource manual for those who loathe the tyrants; includes bomb making techniques, security measures, guerrilla tactics, weapons training and all other jihad related activities.
Â· "Informal - a disaster for the repressive imperialistic nations: The open source jihad is America's worst nightmare.
Â· "It allows Muslims to train at home instead of risking a dangerous travel abroad: Look no further, the open source jihad is now at hands reach."
"Destroying Buildings" is the title of the next page; this item discusses building demolition and explosions. It also focuses on "implementation," "procedures," and "security aspects."
Next is "Open Source Jihad Gun School," with an installment in a series on "Training with the AK." The article begins, "Whichever land of jihad you decide to travel to today, the AK will be the standard weapon of choice amongst the mujahidin. Thus it is imperative to know how to use the weapon. In this series, we will prepare you on the basics of the AK, the weapons capabilities, how to open the weapon and clean it, shooting positions, the types of bullets and the add-ons." Author Abu Salih suggests that readers further research the subject if they are unsure as to which weapon suits them best. The article concludes: "In the next edition of Training with the AK, we will take a look at how to open the weapon for cleaning and put it back together."
Next comes "Advice for Those Who Want to Help Al-Malahem Media," best described as a recruitment effort. The section tells how to contact AQAP, and readers are encouraged to send emails. The writer explains that "due to security reason, we do not log onto the net frequently." Also provided are submission guidelines and a request for Arabic translators. Readers are warned to "take care of security and cover all your tracks when staying in touch with us."
Writing For "Inspire" - "Humor Is a Plus"
Under the subtitle "Reaching Out to Al-Qaeda is Possible Through the Following Simple Rules," the magazine explains what kind of articles the publication is looking for: "We are looking for quotes related to major political events that are related to the mujahideen for our 'Hear the World' section of Inspire - 'humor is a plus."
An example of Al-Qaeda humor can be found on page 51. A photo of U.S. President Barack Obama with his eyes closed is captioned, "Lemme Guess, You're UPS'd?" The page notes, "This ad is brought to you by a Cold Diss."
"Why Did I Choose Al-Qaeda"
The magazine also includes an installment in the "Why Did I Choose Al-Qaeda" series, excerpted from a book by Sheikh Abu Mus'ab Al-Awlaki. This article includes 46 reasons why he joined the organization.
"What to Expect in Jihad"
This installment in the Mukhtar Hassan's "What to Expect in Jihad" series is datelined Sana'a, Yemen, January 10, 2011. The article addresses issues such as "Facing Aerial Bombardment in Jihad," and "Dealing with Injury," and includes a to-do list: "buy handguns, make bombs, blow up Times Square, and pull off Mumbai[-]style attack on the White House till martyrdom." Also included is an image of an envelope marked "anthrax."
Feature Article: Al-Awlaki on Targeting the U.S. Economy
The five-page feature article, by Yemeni-American jihadist cleric Anwar Al-Awlaki, is titled: "The Ruling on Dispossessing the Disbelievers wealth in Dar al-Harb." In it, Al-Awlaki encourages jihadists living in the West to assist the financing of jihadist activities through any means possible, including theft, embezzlement, and seizure of property. The U.S. government and U.S. citizens are singled out as prime targets for these acts. Following are main points and excerpts from the article:
In an attempt to deal with the cash shortage that jihadist groups are facing, Al-Awlaki gives religious justification to any actions used by jihadists to obtain money. He rules that Western countries are considered dar al-harb, i.e. the territory of war - meaning that they are countries to which the rules of war apply. Since this is the case, Al-Awlaki says, Muslims living in the West are not bound by any laws or contracts that prohibit them from harming their countries of residence: "It is the consensus of our scholars that the property of the disbelievers in dar al-harb is halal [permissible] for the Muslims and is a legitimate target for the mujahidin," he states.
According to Al-Awlaki, jihadists living in the West are in a unique situation: they are fighting across enemy lines, in guerilla fashion, and therefore any money or property that they obtain belongs to them and can be disbursed as they see fit. Al-Awlaki states that "all of our scholars agree on the permissibility of taking away the wealth of the disbelievers in dar al-harb whether by means of force or by means of theft or deception. Our scholars differ on how wealth taken by means of theft and deception should be divided..."
Al-Awlaki also urges Muslims in the West to avoid paying taxes: "Every Muslim who lives in dar al-harb should avoid paying any of his wealth to the disbelievers, whether it be in the form of taxes, duties, or fines. If a Muslim is allowed to deceive the disbelievers to appropriate their wealth then he is also allowed to deceive them to avoid paying them his wealth." Al-Awlaki advises the jihadists in most Western countries to carefully select the institutions and individuals that they steal from, for public relations reasons. However, he considers the U.S. government and all its citizens to be legitimate and desirable targets: "Even though it is allowed to seize the property of individuals in dar al-harb, we suggest that Muslims avoid targeting citizens of countries where the public opinion is supportive of some of the Muslim causes. We therefore suggest that the following should be targeted: Government owned property; Banks; Global corporations; Wealth belonging to disbelievers with known animosity towards Muslims."
He continues, "In the case of the United States, both the government and private citizens should be targeted. America and Americans are the [leaders of heresy] in this day and age. The American people who vote for war mongering governments are intent on no good. Anyone who inflicts harm on them in any form is doing a favor to the ummah..."
Al-Awlaki concludes by underlining the major role Western jihadists can play in dealing with the jihadi groups' pressing shortage of funds: "Since jihad around the world is in dire need of financial support, we urge our brothers in the West to take it upon themselves to give this issue a priority in their plans. Rather than the Muslims financing their jihad from their own pockets, they should finance it from the pockets of their enemies..."
"Jihad Today - Jannah Tomorrow"
Following Al-Awlaki's article is an image titled "Jihad Today - Jannah Tomorrow" that includes weapons, ammunition, and grenades. The caption states: "The following is a COME TO JIHAD ad production. It seeks to inspire the believers to leave their homeland and join the global jihad effort."
An Updated List of Prisoners in the West Whose Freedom Al-Qaeda Demands
As in previous editions, a section is devoted to "Free the Muslim Prisoners." Roshonara Choudhry is added to the list of 33 notable names, including Colleen LaRose, John Walker Lindh, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, Nidal Hassan, Faisal Shahzad, and Adam Chesser.
AQAP Again Urges Western Readers to Contact It
There can be no doubt that "Inspire" is a means for Al-Qaeda to reach potential Western recruits, as shown by the section titled "Reaching out to Al-Qaeda." The magazine ends with a section on "How to Communicate With Us," which was also included in previous issues. Provided are several email addresses, on Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, and Fastmail, with codes to block hacking. The magazine states: "If you are interested in contributing to this magazine with any skills - be it writing, research, editing, or advice - or have any questions for us, you can contact us at any of the email addresses below. We strongly encourage everyone to use the Asrar al-Mujahideen program to get in touch with us as we explained in the first issue. Please take special precautions when using the program in order to avoid detection from the intelligence services. Our public key can be obtained below..."
For more on Inspire, See
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 638 - Second Issue of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) 'Inspire' Magazine: A General Review, October 12, 2010 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4670.htm
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 639 - New Trend in Al-Qaeda's Recruitment Efforts: American Muslims Should Carry the Burden of Jihad in U.S. , October 19, 2010 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4685.htm
Special Dispatches No. 3075 - Release of Al-Qaeda's New English-Language Magazine Ends in Jihadi Web Disaster, July 01, 2010 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4423.htm
Special Dispatches No. 3089 - Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Re-Releases Inspire Magazine - Al-Awlaki Calls for Bombings and Assassinations in U.S., July 11, 2010 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4440.htm
Special Dispatches No. 3287 - AQAP Releases Second Issue of 'Inspire' Magazine, October 11, 2010 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4663.htm
Special Dispatches No. 3290 - In Second Issue of Jihadi 'Inspire' Magazine, American Muslim Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki Publishes Response to 'New Mardin Declaration,' In Which He Rejects Muslim Call for Moderateness and Coexistence, and Supports Jihad and Takfir, October 12, 2010 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4666.htm
Special Dispatches No. 3291 - AQAP 'Inspire' Magazine's 'Open Source Jihad' Section: 'Use a Pickup Truck... [to] Mow Down the Enemies of Allah'; 'A Random [Lunch Hour Shooting] at a Crowded [Washington DC] Restaurant... Might End Up Knocking Out, October 12, 2010 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4667.htm
Special Dispatches No. 3391 - AQAP Releases Special Issue of 'Inspire' Magazine 'Operation Hemorrhage' - Dedicated Entirely To Explosive Parcels Plot, November 20, 2010 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4780.htm
Special Dispatches No. 3514 - In New Issue of Inspire, AQAP Encourages Muslims in the West to Attack Western Civilians, January 16, 2011 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4919.htm
Special Dispatches No. 3517 - U.S. Jihadist Samir Khan: Muslims Join Jihad Not in Response to Actions by Israel and the U.S., But Because Jihad Is an Individual Duty, January 17, 2011 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4922.htm
Special Dispatches No. 3518 - AQAP's English-Language Inspire Magazine Hails Swedish Bomber Taimour Al-Abdaly and British Attacker Roshonara Choudhry, Calls Their Actions Examples of 'Borderless Loyalty' To Islam, January 17, 2011 https://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4923.htm
*Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute.