Al-Qaeda Military Strategist Abu Mus’ab Al-Suri’s Teachings on Fourth-Generation Warfare (4GW), Individual Jihad and the Future of Al-Qaeda

By: Steven Stalinsky*

June 22, 2011

Table of Contents

  •  Introduction
  •  Abu Mus’ab Al-Suri – General Background
  • Al-Suri – A Model for Followers of Al-Qaeda in the West
  • Al-Suri’s Blueprint for the Next Generation of Al-Qaeda
  • Teaching Lessons On Jihad to Young Al-Qaeda Followers In the Classroom
  • Abu Mus’ab Al-Suri on YouTube
  • An Al-Qaeda Recruitment Guide Based On Al-Suri’s Teachings
  • Al-Qaeda Embraces 4GW: *Al-Suri in Issue No. 1 of Inspire – “The Schools of Jihad” *Al-Suri in Issue No. 2 of Inspire – “The Open Fronts & The Individual Initiative” *Al-Suri in Issue No. 4 of Inspire – “The Military Theory of Open Fronts” *Al-Suri in Issue No. 5 of Inspire – “Individual Terrorism Jihad and the Global Islamic Resistance Units” *Al-Suri in the Upcoming Issue No. 6 of Inspire – “Practical Steps for Partaking in Individual Jihad”
  • Al-Suri’s Teachings: The Source of Al-Qaeda’s 4GW Teachings
  • The Impact of Al-Suri’s Strategic Theory on Al-Qaeda’s Future
  • Appendix I: Four Articles by Al-Suri from Inspire
  • Appendix II: Articles by Al-Suri To Be Expected in Future Issues of Inspire
  • Appendix III: Al-Suri on YouTube


On July 1, 2010, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the first edition of its English-language online magazine Inspire. The magazine, a slickly produced propaganda document, represents an effort to engage the English-language world and to recruit English-speaking Muslims to join the cause of jihad.

Inspire’s primary message to its readers is that they too can be part of Al-Qaeda and its mission, but from the comfort of their own home. Instead of traveling thousands of miles to join the jihad, the reader need only turn on their computer and visit websites to receive training – i.e. viewing videos and listening to sermons of their favorite leaders, and learning to handle weapons, explosives and even planning attacks. For example, a Q&A section in the most recent edition of Inspire includes an unnamed Muslim living in the West asking for guidance regarding the best way to join jihad and reach the jihad fronts. The magazine’s answer to him, and to all readers, is: “[B]ased on your ability, you choose the target [in your home area]. Your pool of targets is large, so make sure to think of all of the available options. An example of something local, easy, and effective is attacking an army recruiting center, nightclub, highway, or busy shopping mall.”

Five issues of Inspire have now been released. They include multiple article series focusing on different aspects of jihad of vital interest to Al-Qaeda recruits and potentials recruits. One series, “The Jihad Experience,” by Abu Mus’ab Al-Suri, has appeared in four of the magazine’s issues, and Inspire No. 5 offers a preview of the next chapter, to be published in the upcoming Inspire No. 6.

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