By: Y. Carmon and H. Migron*
The second issue of Inspire, the English-language magazine of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), published October 10, 2010, provides further evidence of a striking new development: Al-Qaeda is striving to place the responsibility for jihad in America upon the Muslim community in the U.S. This is instead of having mujahideen come from other parts of the world to attack the U.S., and instead of recruiting American Muslims to fight on other jihadi fronts worldwide.
Following is an analysis of this new trend.
Jihad in America – The Responsibility of Its Muslim Community
Al-Qaeda’s effort to recruit Americans for action in the U.S. takes place on two levels, and is directed at two distinct audiences.
A) The ideological level:
On this level, Al-Qaeda ideologues address the more educated circles in the American Muslim community, and attempt to undermine the efforts of moderate Islamic scholars to challenge jihadist and extremist notions. For example, the second issue of Inspireincludes an article by Sheikh Anwar Al-Awlaki, the charismatic American-born jihadi leader and scholar who was the inspiration behind several terrorist attacks in America. The article is a detailed denunciation of the New Mardin Declaration – a fatwa published by a group of moderate Muslim scholars from around the world in attempt to delegitimize extremism and violent jihad and promote values of tolerance and coexistence between Muslims and non-Muslims.
B) The practical level:
On this level, Al-Qaeda appeals to the less educated elements of the Muslim community, with an eye to recruiting them for hostile action inside the U.S. Several articles in the second issue of Inspire provide practical suggestions for attacks that do not require advanced weapons or special training abroad, such as driving a vehicle into a large crowd in an American city, shooting up a crowded restaurant in Washington, DC, or using “a pickup truck as a mowing machine, not to mow grass but mow down the enemies of Allah.” The first issue of Inspire included similar advice, such as “how to make a bomb in the kitchen of your mom.” The magazine also encouraged Muslims in the U.S. to emulate the actions of Nidal Hasan, suspected of perpetrating the shooting at Fort Hood, and Faisal Shahzad of the attempted Times Square bombing.
The new trend of addressing Americans is reflected in the call made on Islamist websites to circulate the Inspire magazine on various English-language websites – not only on jihadist sites but on general ones, such as sports sites. The trend is also reflected in the statement that “the target audience” of Inspire magazine is “non-Arab Muslims” (meaning English-speaking Muslims of all nationalities).
This new development is not relevant to the U.S. alone, since English-speaking Muslim communities are found in many parts of the world. Moreover, in our assessment, magazines like Inspire will be published in additional Western languages, targeting Muslim communities in other countries.
*Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI; H. Migron is a research fellow at MEMRI.
 For detailed information on the second issue of Inspire, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 638, “Second Issue of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) ‘Inspire’ Magazine: A General Review,” October 13, 2010,http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/4670.htm.
For information on the magazine’s first issue, see MEMRI JTTM report: “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Re-Releases Inspire Magazine – Al-Awlaki Calls for Bombings and Assassinations in U.S.,” July 11, 2010, http://www.memrijttm.org/content/en/report.htm?report=4440¶m=JT.
 The declaration was issued at the “Mardin: Abode of Peace” conference, held in Turkey on March 27-28, 2010, which was an attempt by Islamic scholars from a number of countries to rule terrorism and aggression illegitimate. The conference centered on a fatwa by the medieval Islamic scholar Taqi Al-Din Ibn Taymiyya regarding the city of Mardin in southeast Turkey, which in his days had fallen to the Mongols. When asked whether Mardin was dar al-harb (the Abode of War) or dar al-islam (the Abode of Islam), Ibn Taymiyya had replied that Mardin was a composite abode. The main argument of the scholars participating in the conference was that just as Ibn Taymiyya had not strictly adhered to the classical division of the world into dar al-harb and dar al-islam, so modern Islamic scholars need to take changing conditions into account when dealing with these concepts. In particular, they argued that the international system today achieves the ends sought by Islam – peace, sovereignty, freedom of worship, etc. – and thus the concepts of the “Abode of War” and jihad against it are no longer operative.
The conference was accompanied by a concerted public relations effort. The organizers employed the services of a consulting firm and set up an English-language website (http://www.mardin-fatwa.com) that included information on the proceedings, the conference’s closing declaration, and press clippings. It was clear that in addition to addressing the technical jurisprudential arguments, the conference participants were equally interested in presenting their message to a Western audience.
The Mardin conference raised the ire of many jihadists and hardline Wahhabis. This was primarily because the conference had chosen to base itself on a fatwa by Ibn Taymiyya for the express purpose of arguing that this scholar, who is the jihadists’ and Wahhabis’ preferred medieval authority, is today being misinterpreted. (Some of the scholars who participated in the conference, such as the Grand Mufti of Bosnia Dr. Mustafa Ceric, are actually from schools of Islam that have historically been at odds with many of Ibn Taymiyya’s positions; the decision to focus on him as an authority was thus primarily a means of undermining the jihadists’ own arguments.) Prior to Anwar Al-Awlaki’s article in Inspire, denunciations of the conference had already been penned by Sheikh Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, Sheikh Hamid Al-‘Ali of Kuwait, the Saudi Wahhabi Sheikh ‘Abd Al-‘Aziz Bin Muhammad Aal ‘Abd Al-Latif, the pseudonymous jihadist sheikhs Hussein Bin Mahmud and Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari, and others.