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Is al Qaeda’s new English-language magazine any good?

Is al Qaeda’s new English-language magazine any good?

Answer: no. It is terrible. But perhaps there are some idiots out there who will find it appealing.

According to the Daily Beast‘s Lloyd Grove, the U.S. government is apparently "deeply concerned" that the magazine, called Inspire, will spread al Qaeda’s message to susceptible audiences in the West. Grove quotes an anonymous counterterrorism official saying, "The packaging of this magazine may be slick, but the contents are as vile as the authors."

Actually, no — the packaging is not slick at all. It’s very "I played around with Microsoft Publisher for a few hours."

Marc Ambinder gots his paws on a copy of the first issue, and it’s as ridiculous as you might imagine. One article, by someone named "the AQ chef," is called "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom." There’s an essay by Yahya Ibrahim, a radical Canadian-born  preacher, entitled "The West Should Ban the Niqab Covering Its Real Face." There’s a "message to the people of Yemen" from al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri, a column by Yemeni-American sheikh Anwar al-Awlaki, an interview with the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Abu Basir al Wahishi, and various practical lessons on such topics as sending encrypted messages and what you can expect when you join the jihad. It also has a page for "contact us," which is intriguing — how does that work?

Granted, I’m not the target audience for this rag, and Brookings analyst Bruce Riedel makes a good point here: "From the standpoint of al Qaeda, it’s not intended to be a bestseller. They’re just looking for one guy who will be inspired by this to bomb Times Square, and this time maybe he will put together the bomb correctly.”

Still, I’d wager that the folks who are producing Inspire are going to get killed or captured before they inspire any such attacks. I also don’t think we’ll be seeing an al Qaeda iPad app anytime soon.

UPDATE:  You can download the full pdf file here at your own risk (it’s about 5 MB).

This post has been updated. Thanks to readers for pointing out my mistakes.