July 1, 2010 in Nation/World

Website sells al-Qaida line in English

Propaganda page targets U.S., the U.K.
Matt Apuzzo Associated Press
 

Al-Awlaki
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – Al-Qaida launched its first online propaganda magazine in English on Tuesday, a move that could help the terror group recruit inside the U.S. and Europe.

The magazine, called Inspire, is being run by al-Qaida’s branch in Yemen, which has been linked to the failed Christmas Day bombing attempt of a U.S.-bound airliner.

The launch suggests that, as al-Qaida’s core has been weakened by CIA drone airstrikes, the group hopes to broaden its reach inside the U.S., where officials have seen a spate of homegrown terrorists.

“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,” Bruce Riedel, a Brookings Institution scholar and former CIA officer, said.

Tuesday’s launch did not go smoothly.

The magazine was 67 pages long, but all but the first three pages were just garbled computer code, according to SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist websites and obtained a copy of the magazine.

The table of contents included articles such as “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” which promised to be “a detailed yet short, easy-to-read manual on how to make a bomb using ingredients found in a kitchen.”

“We also call upon and encourage our readers to contribute by sending their articles, comments or suggestions to us,” the magazine’s introduction read.

At the heart of al-Qaida’s propaganda effort is Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical U.S.-born cleric now living in Yemen. Authorities say his online sermons, in English, have inspired several recent terrorist plots in the United States.

The magazine promotes an article by al-Awlaki titled “May Our Souls be Sacrificed for You.” But like most of the magazine, the article did not appear in the version circulated Tuesday.

Until now, al-Qaida has relied on Arabic websites to carry its message. Now it appears to be capitalizing on its recent success recruiting inside the U.S.

Using propaganda on the Internet, the terrorist group has been able to attract Americans such as Bryant Neal Vinas and Najibullah Zazi, two admitted al-Qaida terrorists.

Both were radicalized in New York and traveled to Pakistan to join the fight against the U.S.

In a recent terrorism case in New Jersey, prosecutors say two U.S. citizens watched al-Awlaki’s videos on their cell phones and took inspiration in his call for smaller, single acts of terrorism.

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