Inspire 14: Assassination Operations and Dabiq 11: The War of Coalitions
Well it has been some time since I cared enough to actually look at the media being put out by Da’esh (Al-Hayat) never mind the ever present Inspire magazine put out by AQAP and Al-Malahem. Things however have reached a point where I am going to speak up again on what is going on with the GWOT as it is called. Yesterday there was a report put out about fifty intelligence analysts who officially complained about their analysis products being cherry picked or edited to suit the administrations needs and this in tandem with the drops of both magazines at nearly the same time had my interest piqued. It feels like once again history is repeating itself with intel being managed or changed to suit the needs of the politicians who are the consumers of that intel. Does anyone really remember the run up to the Iraq invasion and the machinations of the WHIG at all today? I guess in the vast sea of what is claimed to be journalism, the truth of matters is often lost but if you pay attention sometimes you can get some clarity.
The biggest part of the revelations by the intelligence community analysts is that they say we are losing ground with Da’esh in reality, not as the administration would like us all to think. Personally for me I have been of the opinion that drone strikes and a propaganda war has done absolutely nothing for the greater good and that we are in fact stagnant in ideas or means to stop the Middle East from becoming a sectarian bastion. The “Land War in Asia” thing aside, we have no real good plan for helping the moderates because we keep propping up the despots as bulwarks or as necessary evils in the game of Middle East Go. Since I am not a politician, nor am I anyone with any real pull I am stuck here just watching the conflagration while the rest of the world accepts media word-smithing ‘refugee’ to ‘migrant’ with bile rising in my throat.
Back to the magazines and their coincidental dropping at the same time on the same day. In looking at them they are both quite different in tone and direction. While the Inspire is the usual ideologue format it has some scary content in that it is giving directed ideas to the would be jihobbyists with their OSJ (Open Source Jihad) sections ranging from how to make a hand grenade to a call for the ‘Lone Wolf Caravan’ to carry out assassination operations. This call for the assassination ops has been one of the more focused notional magazines that I have seen out of AQAP and as such, with the successful attacks in recent past by lone wolves or small groups of actors without direct training by AQ/AQAP/Da’esh is concerning. Given the media savvy approach of the magazine with Inspire and then the alternative wind up of slick media on youtube by Da’esh, I have to think the synergy would create some new converts. Honestly folks, watching all this play out is much like watching the evolution of Batman and Joker.
Here are some highlights from the Inspire 14 issue:
Yet another IED but this time they want to have hand grenades much like the attack in Mumbai. The plans are simple and effective. One only hopes that some of these guys make a mistake and lose a limb in process
Dabiq though, is another story altogether. It seems that the boys at Al Hayat are very very wordy. In their mag we have much more pedantic text concerning the millenarian ideal that Da’esh is purported to have. Though really only one section of the magazine has a direct line to that ideology at all. The rest is text, lots and lots of it, that may as well just be great swaths of the Qu’ran for all I care. I guess overall though I have to equate the Dabiq to everything I have seen out of Ayman Zawahiri on the depth and breadth of pedantic arguments. Ayman and others like to spout all kinds of erudite scripture while the AQAP guys are ‘BLOW SOME SHIT UP!” which is odd given the nature of the media campaign we see on Twitter and YouTube by Da’esh. There is some disconnect here in the Dabiq magazine with all the text but they do try to intersperse some blood and guts type of things as well to keep the reader interested.
Frankly, I think Da’esh are still trying to figure out the magazine business…
Highlights from Dabiq 11
In an ideological war such as we are seeing played out by vying Islamist parties like Da’esh and AQAP the clear winner in trying to evince a more stable and likely successful attack by a jihobbyist would be what you see in Inspire. This has been the modus operandi of AQAP for some time anyway so there is nothing new. Meanwhile if you watch the news and look at the article written by Mike Scheuer Da’esh has been not only making noise online but also able to take key areas of the region physically. There is a propaganda war being played out but how much of that is really germane to the GWOT as a whole? With the death of Junaid Hussein for being a propaganda mouthpiece for Da’esh and the fallout since calling into question the extra-judicial nature of the killing one can see how much more prescient in the news cycle the propaganda war seems to be while the actual physical boots on the ground war is seemingly absent.
So yes, these two magazines show the varying ideals of how they want to prosecute the jihad. Da’esh seems to be very focused on the grounds for their beliefs to bolster their claim of a Caliphate while AQAP is actually prosecuting the war against the West hoping that players in the West will act. Given the nature of Inspire I can see this happening much more possibly than anyone sitting down for a good read of Dabiq. Frankly Dabiq is much like it’s cleric, shadowy, full of rhetoric, and in the end likely to be empty of any real Muslim ardour for religions sake. Either Abu Bakr is an Islamist Jim Jones cum Joker or he is a wannabe Ernst Stavro Blofeld in my mind.
My primary concern now is that Inspire has laid out some new ideas that the jihobbyists will take up and use. These are not super secret methods but things that with the advent of the internet are even easier to carry off (i.e. OSINT, planning, connecting etc) to carry off an assassination. It is also more a matter of action than it is discourse or belief in the Qur’an the way that the AQAP guys present the material. Sure the underpinnings are all about being a good Muslim and ridding the ummah of the West’s boot on their collective throat (perceived) but they are second to the slick pictures and notions of being a James Bond figure.
Finally, when Da’esh reaches the same point with their magazine I will worry more that a flotilla of fanboys will latch onto their crazy with much more information and perhaps pull off an assassination. Until then, I will just watch the propaganda war play out as we really do not much of anything in the field to really root out the problem in the first place. The games must end and this tit for tat drone war is not going to do it for us.
As an interesting aside to the more technical out there. When getting the new issues of the magazines it came to light that someone has been playing with the supply chain again. The August 31 drop of the alleged Dabiq 11 issue not only on archive.org but also on a slew of shortened addresses (t.co) were actually malware.
In this case the malware seems to have been a keylogger. I have seen other files come out the same way and one has to wonder if it is the IC or if it the guys playing the home game. In any case, when you download these things be sure you run them through some tests. That is unless you don’t care about being pwn3d by a nation state.