October 12, 2010 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 638

Second Issue of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's (AQAP) 'Inspire' Magazine: A General Review

October 12, 2010 | By Steven Stalinsky*
Yemen | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 638


Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the second issue of its English-language magazine Inspire on October 11, 2010. The following is a review of the new 72-page document, which first appeared on the Shumukh Al-Islam web forum.

The publication includes excerpts from a sermon by Osama bin Laden; a poem by Ayman al-Zawahiri; excerpts from a recent speech by American Al-Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn; an autobiographical account of AQAP commander and former Guantanamo prisoner 'Uthman Al-Ghamidi; an interview with deputy emir of AQAP and former Guantanamo prisoner Abu Sufyan (Said Al-Shihri); an explanation of Al-Qaeda's military strategy by Abu Mus'ab Al-Suri, including specific definitions of Open Front Jihad and Individual Terrorism Jihad; and many other articles, which will be discussed in this report.

It should be noted that within hours of its release, this edition of Inspire was posted on the major social media outlets YouTube and Facebook, and was made available for download to Amazon's Kindle and to Daisy and DjVu.

Following the magazine's release, the already well-known jihadi forum group, Al-Mojahden Electronic Network, posted the magazine on its Facebook page, and also created a Facebook page for the magazine itself. This is the first time a jihadi site has linked directly to Facebook on its front page. As of this writing, the two fan pages have already attracted 356 fans.

The release of Inspire's second issue may be timed to coincide with the start of two major terrorism court cases. First, the preliminary hearing of Maj. Nidal Hasan, of the November 5, 2009 Fort Hood shooting, begins today, October 12, 2010; he has been charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. His name and photo recurs throughout the magazine. Second, today is the beginning of the first trial of a Guantanamo detainee, Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. Ghailani is charged with conspiring with others, including Osama bin Laden, to blow up two U.S. embassies in Africa in August 1998.

Cover Story: "Photos from the Operation of Abyan"

This section includes pictures of the battle between Al-Qaeda and Yemen military, broken down under the following subsections: Check Point Attack; Base Ambush; Intense Explosions; Clearing the Street.

Letter from the Editor

This section is also devoted to the fighting inside Yemen between the Yemen army and Al-Qaeda in the southern city of Lawdar. The letter ends with a warning: "While the fighting in Lawdar was raging, the CIA issued its assessment of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The CIA is now claiming that the AQAP is the most dangerous of the Al-Qaeda branches. We say this is just the beginning. You haven't seen anything yet. The Arabian Peninsula is the heartland of Islam and its mujahidin have promised that they will not lay down their arms until they free this land from the tyrants and march on to Jerusalem. That is when America and its Jewish masters would realize the true danger of AQAP. Our slogan is: Here we start, and in Jerusalem we meet."

Hear the World

This section includes "a collection of quotes from friend and foe." Among those quoted are WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange; anti-war campaigner Richard Boyd Barrett; editor of the London daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Abd Al-Bari Atwan; U.S. President Barack Obama; and Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Taliban singer Mohammed Younis Jihad Mal is quoted as saying, "I wear clothes of explosives, I'm heading out to kill disbelievers. I'm a martyr, I'm an earthquake that shakes the palace built on pride."

News Flash

This section comprises multiple items on recent news concerning Muslims in the U.S. Among the more notable items are:

  • "The Inspire Distortion: The first issue of Inspire was struck with a virus that deleted 64 of its 67 pages. It is also reported that the FBI actively sought the deletion of the online magazine. Why are they so scared?"
  • "New York Cordoba Mosque Lessons: The New York Cordoba mosque issue reveals to us the religious discrimination that exists in America. The polls show that a majority are against the building of the mosque even though the sponsors of the project profess to be patriotic, loyal Americans. Isn't it time that American Muslims wake up to the fact that America is Islam's number one enemy?"
  • "The Hero Sharif Mobely [sic]: On January 26, Sharif Mobley was attacked by eight masked operatives from Yemen's secret police. He was tortured in prison despite being an American citizen because it was the Americans who made the request for his arrest. Details of his ordeal are beginning to surface."

Questions We Should Be Asking

This section includes seven questions, among them:

  • "If there were a nation today that deserved to be destroyed by a nuclear blast, which one should it be? Shouldn't it be the one that has used nuclear weapons on innocent and helpless people?"
  • "Not a single shred of evidence has been produced to incriminate Imam Anwar al-Awlaki; so why has the U.S. Government put him on their hit list?"
  • "From the war on terror to the war on al-Qaeda, isn't Obama calling every Muslim who follows the principles of Islam – which includes establishing the Global Islamic Caliphate through jihad – a supporter of Al-Qaeda?"

'Inspired' Feedback

The following are some of the more notable responses to this issue of Inspire. This section also includes a response to the magazine's first edition:

  • Brother N.D.: "This is the first time that I read your (and our) 'Inspire' magazine. This is something that we young Muslims need on a monthly basis. This magazine inspired me to think more about akhirah [the afterlife] by devoting my entire life to doing good deeds."
  • Brother MS: "…Alhamdulillah we have received the first issue of the 'Inspired.' It has indeed been inspiring and opens an all new front of media warfare. When the kuffar continue their diatribe against the religion of Allah, it is indispensable that the voices of truth are also heard. InshaAllah we hope to see many more issues of the magazine and your valuable contribution in it. The caravan in the path of Allah is moving and a many of us crave to join in. For those in the process and living in Dar al-Kufr we ask for your advice. We also seek counsel on dealing with the different sects and the guidelines for da'wah."
  • Ahmad: "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."
  • David Gomez, FBI assistant special agent, referring to the "hit list" published in the magazine's first issue: "We understand the absolute seriousness of a threat from an Al Qaeda-inspired magazine and are attempting to do everything in our power to assist the individuals on that list to effectively protect themselves and change their behavior to make themselves less of a target."
  • Ted Meister, marketing communications manager: "At Tellabs, we publish a customer magazine, formerly known as Inspire. It's a big project every quarter, as we work closely with customers to convey how Tellabs mobile, optical, business and services solutions helped them succeed. It's always a bit nerve-wracking when we go to press, but this quarter almost knocked us off our feet. The week was winding down before the Fourth of July weekend when my boss called to ask where the magazine was. I proudly replied, 'It's on press!' thinking he would be pleased. To my surprise, he wasn't. In fact, I could tell by his voice that there was a big problem. What he said next stunned me for a moment. 'Al Qaeda just launched a magazine called Inspire!'"

Threats to America in an Article about "Obama's Ploy and the Peak of Islam" by Graduate of Al-Azhar

An article by Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Banna, who is identified as a graduate of religious studies at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, is addressed to the American people. In it, he warns that more attacks will occur on American soil, and that the events of 9/11 represent a "virtuous act." The article includes an invitation to Americans to read and accept the Koran in order to be saved from "the punishment of Allah on the day of Judgment."

A Postcard on 'What [Western Youth Should] Expect in Jihad' – But Author Adds, 'I Strongly Recommend All the Brothers and Sisters Coming From the West To Consider Attacking the West In Its Own Backyard'

"A Postcard on 'What [Western Youth Should] to Expect in Jihad'" is written by "Mukhtar Hassan." It is dated October 6, 2010, under a banner that reads "Jihad Times." He writes: "[A]ttacking the West helps the global cause." An image from Pakistan of a group receiving greetings from Hakimullah Mehsud, the Emir of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is included.

"Hassan" goes on to ask why the West should not be attacked, explaining: "If you're coming from the West, you might be asked by the mujahidin why you didn't partake in the jihad inside your country. If you tell them, 'to help the mujahidin,' many will tell you that attacking the enemy in their backyard is one of the best ways to help the jihad. Nevertheless, they'll been exceptionally happy to have you in their ranks. They certainly will not force you to go back home, but they will leave that opinion open for you in case you change your mind and decide to attack the enemy back home.

"Put yourself in the shoes of the leadership for a moment. They have with them an individual who is not wanted by the intelligence services and they could use that person to further the Islamic cause. That person is you. I strongly recommend all the brothers and sisters coming from the West to consider attacking the West in its own backyard. The effect is much greater, it always embarrasses the enemy, and these types of individual attacks are nearly impossible for them to contain…"

Hassan also gives details of life on jihadi bases, emphasizing life outdoors as well as the importance of secrecy: "One of the pillars of contemporary jihad is secrecy. If its members don't practice this amongst themselves, it is possible for the movement to fall apart. What is meant here by secrecy is hiding from the people your personal information except for those details that the Amir has allowed. This is because if a mujahid is captured, by the enemy and is interrogated through torture, he might give away your details. This may have far reaching consequences if you are not wanted. So for example, if I am British but of Indian descent, I tell the brothers I'm from Bangladesh. Or if you tell them 'amniyat' which means it's a secret and will avoid asking again. However, this doesn't mean you turn yourself into a complete robot and not respond to the brothers when they talk to you. All you need to do is be careful when talking or responding to a question."

Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki – The Star of 'Inspire'

This section includes a new eight-page article by Anwar Al-Awlaki, titled "The New Mardin Declaration – An Attempt at Justifying the New World Order," in which he categorically rejects the arguments and conclusions of the March 2010 New Mardin Declaration. A footnote in the article explained, "[T]his article was written as a refutation of the new Mardin declaration; [it is] by Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki and completed in April. However due to technical difficulties its publication was delayed."

The New Mardin Declaration was issued at the end of a conference held in late March 2010 by Islamic scholars from all over the world, in the city of Mardin, Turkey, to discuss and reinterpret a seminal fatwa given by the prominent 14th-century scholar ibn Taymiyya. In reinterpreting this fatwa, the scholars challenged many of the fundamental principles cited by extremist Muslims to justify jihad and takfir (accusations of heresy against fellow Muslims). The New Mardin Declaration, issued at the end of the conference, set out the following principles, among others:

· The traditional Muslim division of the world into the "Abode of Islam" and the "Abode of War" is no longer valid, because all of mankind is now bound by international treaties and civil laws that guarantee security, peace and religious, ethnic and national rights for all. Therefore, the entire world must be declared "a place of tolerance and peaceful coexistence between all religions, groups and factions."

· Ibn Taymiyya's fatwa cannot be cited as grounds for leveling the charge of kufr (heresy) against fellow Muslims, for rebelling against rulers, or for terrorizing and killing Muslims or non-Muslims.

· Authorizing and carrying out armed jihad is the exclusive right of heads of state, not of individual Muslims or Muslim groups.

· Religious differences and a desire for booty are not legitimate grounds for war.

· Only highly qualified religious scholars are authorized to issue fatwas.

· It is the responsibility of Muslim religious scholars to condemn violence and extremism clearly and explicitly.

In his response to this declaration, Al-Awlaki makes the following points:

  • Answering the New Mardin Declaration's statement that the Muslims are bound by international treaties and civil laws that guarantee security and rights for all, he states that international treaties are not binding on the Muslims, because they were drafted by the global superpowers without consulting the Muslims and with the aim of consolidating a world order that excludes them.
  • Moreover, he stresses that a Muslim cannot be said to enjoy freedom of worship as long as he is bound by the laws of the state rather than the laws of the shari'a, and as long as he must abide by the rulings of civil courts that do not enforce the laws of Allah. Thus, he says, "the modern civil state of the West does not guarantee Islamic rights."

(For more on Al-Awlaki's document, see MEMRI Special Dispatch 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, 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)

Samir Khan – "I Am Proud To Be a Traitor to America"

The second edition of Inspire also includes an article by 24-year-old former North Carolina and New York City resident Samir Khan titled "I Am Proud To Be a Traitor to America." The cover page of the article states that it is "the story of the Muslim American jihadi Samir Khan." It reads, "After working a few years in the jihad media sector in America, he packed his bags and left for Yemen to help the mujahidin. This is an account of how he happily became a traitor to America and why he chose to make such a decision."

The following are notable excerpts from Samir Khan's story: "I am a traitor to America because my religion requires me to be." He talked about traveling to Yemen and mocked the FBI for "spying on him" in North Carolina, and allowing him to escape the U.S. He called himself "Al-Qaeda to the core" and praised Osama bin Laden, calling him "leader of this global fight" against the West. He discussed what it felt like "to officially become a traitor" and stated he is "prepared to make sacrifices," and adds, "I am actively aware that body parts have to be torn apart, skulls have to be crushed and blood has to be spilled." Samir Khan also quoted WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, calling on the U.S. to change its policies if it wants to prevent more attacks inside its border. He ends by "pledging" to "wage Jihad" until "we implement Islam all over the world or meet our Lord as bears of Islam."

'Open Source Jihad' Section: 'America's Worst Nightmare – Allows American Muslims to Train at Home'

This section includes tips for Muslims in the United "Snakes" of America. It begins with a definition of "open source jihad": "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. Informal: A disaster for the repressive imperialistic nations: The open source jihad is America's worst nightmare. 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."

Featured Article In 'Open Source Jihad' Section: 'The Ultimate Mowing Machine' and Attacks On Washington D.C.

The Open Source Jihad section includes a "featured" article by Yahya Ibrahim, with an image of a Ford pickup truck. The author explains he is providing "reader suggestions, on how to wage their individual jihad," including "the willingness to give one's life for Allah." Excerpts include, "The idea is to use a pickup truck as a mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah. You would need a 4WD pickup truck. The stronger the better. You would then need to weld on steel blades on the front end of the truck. These could be a set of butcher blades or thick sheets of steel. They do not need to be extra sharp because with the speed of the truck at the time of impact, even a blunter edge would slice through bone very easily. You may raise the level of the blades as high as the headlights. That would make the blades strike your targets at the torso level or higher. Pick your location and timing carefully.

"Go for the most crowded locations. Narrower spots are also better because it gives less chance for the people to run away. Avoid locations where other vehicles may intercept you. A random hit at a crowded restaurant in the Washington DC at lunch hour for example might end up knocking out a few government employees. Targeting such employees is paramount and the location would also give the operation additional media attention. To achieve maximum carnage, you need to pick up as much speed as you can while still retaining good control of your vehicle in order to maximize your inertia and be able to strike as many people as possible in your first run. Keep in mind that as soon as people realize what you are up to, they would scatter and run in every direction looking for cover. They would look for areas where the vehicle cannot reach them.

"Therefore, it is important to study your path of operation before hand. The ideal location is a place where there are a maximum number of pedestrians and the least number of vehicles. In fact if you can get through to 'pedestrian only' locations that exist in some downtown (city center) areas, that would be fabulous. There are some places that are closed down for vehicles at certain times due to the swarms of people. If you have access to firearms, carry them with you so that you may use them to finish off your work if your vehicle gets grounded during the attack. After such an attack, we believe it would be very difficult to get away safely and without being recognized. Hence, it should be considered a martyrdom operation. It's a one-way road. You keep on fighting until you achieve martyrdom. You start out your day in this world, and by the end of it, you are with Allah…"

(For more, see MEMRI Special Dispatch 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 a Few Government Employees... Targeting Such Employees Is Paramount,'" October 12, 2010, 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 a Few Government Employees... Targeting Such Employees Is Paramount')

"Tips for Our Brothers in the U.S." – Such as Making Bombs in Mom's Kitchen

Yahya Ibrahim ended his article with a series of "Tips for Our Brothers in the U.S.": Beware of informants; learn lessons; do not attempt to travel overseas; take precautions when using electronic media. Ibrahim then suggests those who do not have access to a truck for a terrorist attack could "make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom" – a reference to the first edition of Inspire (For the first issue of Inspire, see MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, "Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Re-Releases Inspire Magazine – Al-Awlaki Calls for Bombings and Assassinations in U.S., July 11, 2010)

A Suggestion to Develop Weapons of Mass Destruction and to Terrorize America

Yahya Ibrahim also suggests other ways on the "terrorizing element," to attacks and provides suggestions and refers to upcoming editions of Inspire: "These are some of our suggestions [to our brothers in the U.S.]. The best operation however is the one where you come up with an innovative idea that the authorities have not yet turned their attention to, and that leads to maximum casualties or – equally important – maximum economic losses. Also those brothers of ours who have specialized expertise, and those who work in sensitive locations that would offer them unique opportunities to wreak havoc on the enemies of Allah, should take advantage of their skills. For those mujahid brothers with degrees in microbiology or chemistry lays the greatest opportunity and responsibility. For such brothers, we encourage them to develop a weapon of mass destruction, i.e. an effective poison with the proper method of delivery. Poisonous gases such as nerve gas are not out of reach for the chemist and require simple equipment. A microbiologist would be capable of developing the most effective strains of Clostridium botulinum and thus develop the most lethal toxin of all: botulin. An effective botulin attack administered properly could lead to hundreds if not thousands of casualties. For such brothers we would ask them to take the utmost security precautions and take their time even if that means years [of preparation]. Such an operation is worth the wait. Brothers with less experience in the fields of microbiology or chemistry, as long as they possess basic scientific knowledge, would be able to develop other poisons such as Ricin or Cyanide. Due to the extreme importance of moving the war with America over to the next stage, the stage of weapons of mass destruction, we will, insha'llah, cover such topics in more detail in our upcoming issues. Until then may Allah protect you all and guide you to what is best for you in this life and the afterlife."

Asrar Al-Mujuhidin Extras 2.0

This section is for tech-savvy jihadists in the West on encrypting communications, including illustrations on communicating and then "shredding files." The illustrations are from the Ekhlass Network.

Anwar Al-Awlaki and CIA Khost Bomber Abu Dujanah Al-Khurasani

The concluding articles include previously released speeches by Anwar Al-Awlaki – "The Prize Awaiting the Shahid" from his Mashari al-Ashwaq CD, and Abu Dujanah al-Khurasani's "O-Hesitant One: It's an Obligation," an Al-Sahab release.

A Call to Free the Muslim Prisoners – Including Americans

This section lists 26 Muslim prisoners in U.S. prisons, including many America converts convicted on terrorism charges including: Aafia Siddiqui, Colleen LaRose (aka Jihad Jane), John Walker Lindh, Sharif Mobley, Faisal Shahzad, Walter Barry Bajul, Zachary Adam Chesser, Omar Khadr, and others.

The 'Inspire' Recruiting Section

At the end of the second edition of Inspire is a section titled "How to Communicate With Us." It states: "If you are interested in contributing to this magazine with any skills – be it writing, research, editing or advice – 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. Pease take special precaution when using the program in order to avoid detection from the intelligence services. Our public key can be obtained below."

Inspire also provides email addresses for direct contact.

Note to media and government: For the full copy of the second edition of Inspire, send an email with "Inspire 2" in the subject line to

*Steven Stalinsky is the Executive Director of The Middle East Media Research Institute

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