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Al-Qaida Magazine Aims To 'Inspire' Western Jihadis

A page from <em>Inspire</em>, the new al-Qaida magazine aimed at Western audiences.
A page from Inspire, the new al-Qaida magazine aimed at Western audiences.

Scans of a new glossy magazine started popping up online this week. Inspire features slick graphics, high-quality production and stories like "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom." The first page also promises an editorial from Osama bin Laden himself, although due to technical issues, only three pages of the magazine are currently available.

Inspire is being published by a Yemen-based branch of al-Qaida, and it's aimed at radicalizing an English-speaking audience. Al-Qaida has a well-established propaganda arm, but, as analyst Juan Zarate tells host Guy Raz, Inspire marks its first major effort to reach out to English speakers.

Zarate is a former deputy national security adviser in the Bush administration and is currently a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He says that despite concerns about the authenticity of Inspire, he believes it genuinely does come from al-Qaida.


"I think it demonstrates al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the al-Qaida brand in Yemen, their attempt to actually consolidate their presence online with a Western publication," Zarate says.

Zarate adds that it's significant that Inspire is coming from the Yemeni branch of al-Qaida and not its core in Afghanistan. Yemen is home to the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who's reportedly been targeted for assassination by the Obama administration.

"Anwar al-Awlaki has moved from a mere firebrand to a more operational role," he says. "One of the interesting things about this publication is that, in some ways, it's yet another extension of his attempts to reach Western audiences."

And while al-Awlaki is probably the driving force behind Inspire, Zarate says al-Qaida in Afghanistan is almost certainly supportive of the effort.

"The people who are running the group in Yemen have long-standing ties to al-Qaida," he says. "I doubt highly that bin Laden sat down to pen something original for this inaugural edition, but he is certainly aware of what's happening with the movement and certainly aware that he needs to be a voice in it."


But what does al-Qaida hope to accomplish with Inspire? Zarate says the magazine aims to spread a message of discontent and radicalism among English-speaking audiences.

"I think what they're hoping with this particular journal is to build on that message, to build on that momentum," he says, "to try to attract as many people to take up the violent cause and to commit some act of violence in the U.S. and in the West."

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