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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Inspire 13: 100 Percent Perspiration

Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula put out the 13th issue of its English-language magazine Inspire, with content and timing clearly meant to invoke the specter of its most-mocked attack, the 2009 Christmas Day bombing attempt in which a would-be terrorist wearing an underwear bomb did incredible damage to his own genitalia but failed to take down a plane.

Much of the issue is devoted to instructions for a "new" kind of "hidden" bomb that "America does not expect," a self-defeating announcement intended more to provoke an outburst of security theater than anything else. If this bomb design has any purpose at all, it is to sell full-body scanners to airports, as the instructions helpfully note that the bomb is vulnerable to such.

Image from Inspire 13

Beyond the extensive instructions on how to build this complicated and rather unwieldy device, Inspire 13 is in many ways more of the same -- much more, in this case, as the magazine clocks in at a whopping 112 page, almost all of which is devoted to singing the praises of "lone wolf" terrorist attacks. Unfortunately for AQAP, they don't have much to boast of in this category and the editors are forced to cite the successes of AQAP's hated rival, ISIS.

The list of lone wolf "successes" includes a number of highly marginal cases, which I wrote about in Foreign Policy this week. The entire issue reeks of desperation for relevance and headlines, including calls to assassinate Ben Bernanke, Bill Gates and Clark Ervin. It also includes lackluster responses from Anwar Awlaki to questions posed years ago by Inspire readers, reading lists and lengthy psuedo-intellectual justifications of jihadist action, of the sort ISIS has largely rendered obsolete in favor of a stripped down argument that can be summarized as "let's just kill a bunch of folks."

If genius is 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration, Inspire should consider a new name, because it is 100 percent perspiration, an extraordinary amount of effort spent on repackaging a lot of old ideas.

Buy J.M. Berger's book, Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the Name of Islam


Views expressed on INTELWIRE are those of the author alone.



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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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