Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Latest issue of Inspire highlights al Qaeda succession


The cover of the latest edition of Inspire. Image from the SITE Intelligence Group.
Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has released the sixth edition of its Inspire magazine. The magazine commemorates Osama bin Laden on its cover and on multiple pages. The editor of Inspire also asks Allah to protect al Qaeda's new emir, Ayman al Zawahiri.
In a "letter from the editor," Yahya Ibrahim writes that it was fitting for bin Laden's life to end in martyrdom because he had supposedly given up so much for the jihadist cause. "Now Shaykh Ayman carries the banner," Ibrahim writes, according to the latest copy of Inspire, provided by the SITE Intelligence Group. "He has been at the forefront of Islamic work and now will lead the organization he helped found. We ask Allah to assist Shaykh Ayman in this great task."
In a separate "news flash" item, Inspire's editors say that the mujahedeen will keep fighting under Zawahiri's leadership.
"After the martyrdom of Shaykh Usama, the al Qaeda central leadership selected Shaykh Ayman al-Zawahiri, may Allah preserve him, as the new Amir," a caption under a picture of Zawahiri reads. Inspire's editors continue: "America is aware that with his invaluable experience and impressive wisdom, the mujahedin continue to fight and lay down their lives for the truth until there remains none to be worshiped except Allah, The Exalted."
AQAP is the latest al Qaeda affiliate to praise the selection of Ayman al Zawahiri as al Qaeda's emir. Although Inspire does not contain an outright pledge of bayat (or oath of allegiance) to Zawahiri, it is clear that AQAP considers him to be the terror network's overall leader.
Other al Qaeda affiliates have already pledged allegiance to Zawahiri.
On June 19, Shabaab, the al Qaeda-linked organization in Somalia, pledged its allegiance to Zawahiri. "Ayman al Zawahiri is the suitable person to replace [Osama bin Laden] on account of his skills and experience," Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage said in a statement, according to a translation by Flashpoint Partners. Sheikh Rage added, "We welcome this fitting choice, and we will support [al Zawahiri] according to our oath just as we were with his brothers before." [See LWJ report, Somalia's Shabaab vows allegiance to new al Qaeda emir Zawahiri.]
In an audio message released online on July 7, a spokesman for al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Abu Obeida Yusuf al 'Annabi, pledged his organization's allegiance to Zawahiri. According to a translation by the SITE Intelligence Group, 'Annabi said:
As long as you [Zawahiri] lead us on the path of truth and jihad for the Cause of Allah, then we pledge to you to be obedient, and we consider ourselves one of the arrows of Islam and jihad and you, the slave of Allah, as the archer. So, throw us wherever you wish, because you will only see from us what will cool your eyes and make you joyous.
There has been some speculation in US counterterrorism circles about the willingness of al Qaeda's affiliates to remain loyal to al Qaeda's central leadership now that Zawahiri is the emir. The latest edition of Inspire provides more evidence that al Qaeda's affiliates are falling in line, at least in public.

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