London, Asharq Al-Awsat- In a surprising turn of events, al-Qaeda found itself in harmony with the “Great Satan” – as it often describes the United States- when it issued a strongly worded statement calling on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to stop promoting conspiracy theories with regards to the September 11th terrorist attacks.
In the latest edition of Inspire magazine, the seventh issue of al-Qaeda’s English language publication, one of the writers, Abu Suhail, launched a scathing attack on what he described as the “ridiculous” theory which President Ahmadinejad has always promoted, namely that the September 11th attacks were carried out by the U.S. government to serve as a pretext for invading the Middle East.
Suhail says in the article: “The Iranian government has professed on the tongue of its president Ahmadinejad that it does not believe that al Qaeda was behind 9/11 but rather, the U.S. government. So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence.”
Although Iran used the term “Great Satan” as a synonym for the United States before al-Qaeda, the writer claimed that Iran now sees itself as a rival to al-Qaeda in terms of its hostility towards the United States, and is jealous of the September 11th attacks.
The article goes on to say: “For them [Iran], al Qaeda was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world. Al Qaeda, an organization under fire, with no state, succeeded in [doing] what Iran couldn’t. Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories.”
Al-Qaeda believes that Iran continues to promote conspiracy theories because doing otherwise would expose their “lip-service” Jihad against the United States.
The magazine also includes a short article allegedly written by al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden, before his death at the hands of a U.S. Navy SEAL team in early May 2011. In the article, bin Laden urges his fighters not to let America’s troops “become great in your eyes”.
The magazine is also apparently seeking to strengthen its ranks in the field of news editing. It has included contact email addresses at the end of the publication inviting contributions – whether they come in the form of writing, research, editing or advice.
President Ahmadinejad has repeatedly claimed that the United States were behind the September 11th terrorist attacks. He recently made these allegations during the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the event, and again in his speech before the United Nations General Assembly last week, which prompted the U.S. delegation, alongside several others, to walk out.
Mark Kornblau, Communications Director and Spokesman for the U.S. at the United Nations, said “Mr. Ahmadinejad had a chance to address his own people’s aspirations for freedom and dignity, but instead he again turned to abhorrent anti-Semitic slurs and despicable conspiracy theories”.
An announcement in Inspire magazine also appears to indicate that the publication’s next issue will include an article by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American of Yemeni origin who is believed to be currently in hiding in Yemen. Al-Awlaki’s forthcoming article talks about “targeting the populations of countries that are at war with the Muslims”.
U.S. authorities accuse al-Awlaki of having a role in the attempt to blow up an American passenger jet on Christmas Eve 2009, during its journey from Amsterdam to Detroit, Michigan, which led to the arrest of the Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. Al-Awlaki was also in contact with a psychiatrist in the U.S. Army, Nidal Malik Hasan, who in November 2009 attacked his colleagues at the Fort Hood military base, killing 13 individuals and wounding around 40 others. Hasan and al-Awlaki had communicated via e-mail for more than a year before the attack was carried out.
According to the version that was posted on Tuesday on the SITE Intel Group website, which monitors jihadist websites where Inspire magazine is published, the seventh issue has moved away from the usual mix of interviews and instructions on how to manufacture explosives, in order to commemorate what the magazine’s editors call “The greatest special operation of all time”.
The front cover is adorned with an image of one of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, made up of dollar signs. Inside the magazine, ten pages are devoted to images of the attacks and subsequent events, ranging from the destroyed towers, the training of jihadists with weapons, to military vehicles burnt out from bomb attacks. The magazine also includes a number of images showing Muslims at prayer, with quotes from Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, his successor.
The magazine’s main article carries the title “The media conflict”, written by Samir Khan, a former U.S. citizen who used to live in North Carolina. He operated many jihadist websites from his parents’ home before travelling to Yemen in 2010 to study Arabic, in order to later become an editor and writer for Inspire magazine. Khan explains how al-Qaeda has effectively disseminated its messages through a process of misinformation, confirming that the media is half of the jihadist’s battle.
The name Samir Khan, a Saudi who holds U.S. citizenship and currently lives in Yemen, first came to prominence with the second issue of al-Qaeda’s Inspire magazine. He has formed a link with Anwar al-Awlaki, in order to recruit new non-Arab elements to al-Qaeda.
Inspire magazine, which bears the signature of the institution “al-Malahem media”; described as being the media branch of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, has previously published interviews and testimonies of al-Qaeda members of American origin, along the lines of the terrorist account of Samir Khan, an American of Saudi origin. In an earlier issue, which also published many images of the September 11th attacks, Khan described his career in a lengthy article entitled “I’m proud to be a traitor to America”. The following issue detailed an extensive meeting with Adam Yahiye Gadahn, known as “Azzam the American”, another U.S. citizen and member of al-Qaeda. The United States has offered a one million dollar reward for information leading to his arrest.
Counter-terrorism experts believe that Inspire magazine aims to recruit more “terrorists” who were born in the United States. SITE Intel Group, monitoring the websites of Islamic groups from its headquarters based in the state of Maryland, reports that the latest issue of Inspire magazine has been posted on a number of fundamentalist websites.