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Friday, March 1, 2013

Inspire 10: Still sucks

I guess I'm never going to get to write a self-congratulatory post about how I got a shout-out in Inspire, because I still don't have anything much good to say about it.

Issue No. 10 of the English-language vehicle for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula just came out, and while it's crawled back from the precipice of copy-editing collapse hinted at in its last issue, it's still a sad little effort that gets taken awfully seriously.

The "hit list" of targets named by Al Qaeda and friends repeatedly over the years is neither fresh nor surprising. The recycled content remains recycled, the original content remains uninspired. The flashy graphics remain flashy.

The part of the publication that most concerns U.S. counterterrorism officials is, of course, "Open-Source Jihad," AQAP's how-to guide for "lone wolf" terrorists. Regular readers will recall that this feature was self-parody from the beginning, and it's descended further into absurdity with this issue's advice that Western mujahideen should try to cause traffic accidents and carry out ninja-style assassinations. And no, I'm not joking, that's really their advice.

Certainly, one can kill people even using absurd methods, but Inspire's readers have so far been distinguished by a lack of competence using tactics of more reliable lethality than lubricating highways so cars will slide and crash (again, not joking).

Look, lone wolf terrorism is a legitimate concern, even if it's generally far less common and less effective than people would have you think. And sure, it would be better if there wasn't this magazine goading idiots into attempting violence. I'm in favor of talking about these things, and I have specific concerns about them. But let's also keep it real. Inspire is ridiculous, and hyping its potency (about halfway into the clip) only elevates its status. Inspire remains unoriginal and largely ineffective. By all means, let's talk about it, but let's not forget to keep it in context.

For more about American jihadists, check out J.M. Berger's new book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, on sale everywhere.

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INTELWIRE is a web site edited by J.M. Berger. a researcher, analyst and consultant covering extremism, with a special focus on extremist activities in the U.S. and extremist use of social media. He is a non-resident fellow with the Brookings Institution, Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, and author of the critically acclaimed Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam, the only definitive history of the U.S. jihadist movement, and co-author of ISIS: The State of Terror with Jessica Stern.


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