The terrorist group Al Qaeda is once again in the news. This time, it’s not for some terrorist attack, it’s for attempting to create an online magazine in the English language. The magazine, named “Inspire,” was first announced in a full-page ad in the Atlantic Monthly. Apparently, it didn’t work, as the New York Daily News reports that only three pages of the magazine are loading successfully, with the rest being a garbled mess of computer coding.
Though this magazine seems to be the first of its type, its message seems to be the same as other forms of online communications spread by terrorist groups in the past. Its message seems to be to spread terror, with articles such as “How to build a bomb in your mom’s kitchen” being an effective way to start.
This is nothing new. The Council on Foreign Relations reported, back in 2006, that, although the government has been afraid of cyber-attacks on its security, the real threat of terrorist groups online is that they are “organizing, recruiting, and fundraising.” It goes on to say that, “Their Online activities offer a window onto their methods, ideas, and plans.” This is exactly what this magazine is reported to be geared toward, if its launch is even successful.
Information Today, Inc. presents another compelling and in-depth look at terrorist activity on the web, citing several examples of what is openly available to anyone, with just a little research.
Although technically not presented as such, The Terrorist’s Handbook is one such example of the same message. These types of things are freely available throughout the web, and, as stated at the beginning of the book, the information it contains is even found through public libraries. This book is not intended for the use of its practices; in other words, do not do the things stated within. These things are extremely dangerous. However, its name aptly implies who its intended audience has been accepted to be. This is only one example of outdated yet simple methods that terrorists will still use online.
So, as it appears, it seems the Al Qaeda magazine, “Inspire,” is just another attempt to do the same thing that terrorists have been doing all along. It offers the same things that have been deemed to be the danger of terrorists on the web for a number of years, only in a more modern, English-language form. In a sense, it could be seen as a form of cyber-recycling. Even so, at this point, it is still another failed attempt.
Al Qaeda does know what failure is. It also knows what publicity does.
Katie Nelson, Al Qaeda launches first English language glossy magazine, Inspire, with article by Osama bin Laden, New York Daily News
Evan F. Kohlmann, The Real Online Terrorist Threat, Foreign Affairs
Paul Piper, Reference Librarian, Western Libraries, Western Washington University, Nets of Terror, Terrorist Activity on the Internet, Information Today, Inc.
Unknown author, The Terrorist’s Handbook