Information Warfare: Inspiring Terrorists


June 14, 2012: On May 2nd, the 9th issue of Inspire Magazine appeared on the Internet. This publication was founded by al Qaeda propagandist and recruiter Anwar al Awlaqi, who was killed in Yemen by an American UAV last September. The same attack killed the editor of Inspire.

Al Awlaqi was noted mainly for being American born and an active recruiter of terrorists world-wide, especially in the West. Al Awlaqi was not in the senior leadership that actually ran the al Qaeda in Arabia organization. Awlaqi was mainly famous for founding the English language pro-terrorism magazine, Inspire, in 2010, as part of his efforts to recruit more terrorists from among Moslems who were already in the West. Awlaqi used the Internet heavily to recruit Moslems outside the Middle East, and especially in the West, to participate in "personal jihad" (terror attacks planned and carried out by one person or a few people). Inspire Magazine provided practical information, for those who could read English, on how to do that.

In the year before his death Awlaqi was under growing pressure from the Yemeni government and American missile armed UAVs hunting for him. Although Awlaqi only needed an Internet connection to gather material for Inspire Magazine, and to publish it (by posting the PDF file to pro-Islamic terror web sites), he was not able to keep publishing the magazine on a timely basis. His followers have now found a new editor and the latest issue is mostly filled with praise for Awlaqi and al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden. This was a "celebration" of the first anniversary of bin Laden at the hands of American commandoes.

While many terrorist wannabes have been caught with Inspire Magazine (possession of which is illegal in Great Britain), no successful terror attacks have been traced to it. That's probably because there are already a lot of Islamic terrorist "how to" documents out on the Internet, most of them written in Arabic or Urdu (the most common language in Pakistan). There has always been some material in English, if only because a lot has been written about terrorism in English. This has become the common language of knowledge in general, with technical material from many other languages translated into English. Until recently, few books were translated into Arabic (or even published in Arabic), so many Arabs interested in learning anything beyond religion learned English first.

What English speaking terrorist wannabes still lack is practical experience on how to go about being an Islamic terrorist. Those most attracted to this sort of thing tend to be the less successful socially and economically. Simple and direct instructions are needed, along with ideological justification for Islamic terrorism. Inspire Magazine provides both, although the propaganda tends to be rough going for the mentally slow moving. The advice on carrying out violence is easier to understand, and that's what makes Inspire Magazine dangerous.


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