The English-language magazine represents al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula's attempt to radicalize and recruit Western homegrown terrorists, experts say.
Amid the recent spate of incidents involving homegrown American terrorists, al Qaeda's Yemeni wing published its first English-language magazine this week in an effort to recruit more Westerners to join the jihad.
Its flashy title: "Inspire."
The magazine was published by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al Qaeda's most dangerous terrorist franchise. The group's profile has risen with its ties to New Mexico-born radical cleric Anwar al-Alwaki and its unsuccessful Christmas day attack on a Detroit-bound airliner.
The online magazine's launch on Tuesday, however, wasn't without its hiccups, reports Maryland-based SITE Intelligence , a jihadist tracking Web site who obtained a copy of it. Of the the magazine's 67 pages, all but three of them consisted of garbled computer code , reports the Associated Press.
The table of contents listed a how-to article titled "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" with the killer teaser "a detailed yet short, easy-to-read manual on how to make a bomb using ingredients found in a kitchen." The magazine also included articles purportedly by core al Qaeda's top two leaders—Osama bin Laden on "The Way to Save the Earth" and Ayman al-Zawahiri's "Message to the People of Yemen"—as well as an article by al-Awlaki, the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reports. (See the table of contents, here )
There's no mystery about the magazine's purpose, Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution scholar and former CIA officer, told the AP. "This new magazine is clearly intended for the aspiring jihadist in the U.S. or U.K. who may be the next Fort Hood murderer or Times Square bomber."
The production and dissemination of "Inspire" is one more piece of evidence that Awlaki is a growing "international symbol of defiance to U.S. power," as Newsweek's Michael Isikoff described him a month ago. The lslamist cleric has arguably become the movement's most valuable propagandist because of his American heritage and his fluency in Arabic and English.
In an address called "A Call to Jihad" released in March by WorldAnalysis.net , al-Awlaki called on U.S. Muslims to follow his lead and turn against their homeland.
"Muslims of the West, take heed and learn from the lessons of history there are and ominous clouds gathering in your horizon," he says. "Yesterday American was the land of slavery, segregation, lynching and Klu Klux Klan and tomorrow it will be a land of religious discrimination and concentration camps. Don't be deceived by the promises of preserving your rights from a government that is right now killing your own brothers and sisters."
U.S. intelligence also believes al-Awlaki has added a new skill to his resume: operational planner.
According to National Counterterrorism Center Director Michael Leiter yesterday at the Aspen Security Forum, the American Islamist is said to have played "a direct, operational role" in AQAP's botched attempt to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas. The cleric also had e-mail communications with suspected Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, who allegedly massacred 13 people in early November and is currently awaiting trial on 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted premeditated murder . Al-Awlaki has praised both men for their actions.
Leiter's statement yesterday is just the latest evidence that al-Awlaki has a gigantic target on his back. On Sunday, CIA Director Leon Panetta told ABC's Jack Tapper "Alwaki is a terrorist who has declared war on the United States. Everything he is doing now is to try and encourage others to attack this country."
Al-Awlaki's propaganda activities as well as his alleged operational role has earned him on a place on the White House's assassination list , as The New York Times reported in early April. Many critics assert such a designation is illegal because it deprives al-Awlaki of his due process rights as an American citizen , especially since he's believed to be in Yemen, a country the United States is not at war with.
Panetta, however, says no such list exists, regardless of media reports to the contrary.
"We don't have an assassination list, but I can tell you we have a terrorist list and he's on it," Panetta told Tapper.
♦ Photo of Anwar al-Awlaki by Muhammad ud-Deen/WikiMediaCommons