The media is having far too much fun with a corrupted PDF file posted to a jihadi forum that is supposedly from Al-Malahem Media, the propaganda unit of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. The “Al-Qaeda magazine”, as it is being called, is described by the Christian Science Monitor as “a mix of ‘Jihadists Illustrated’ and ‘Popular Jihad Science'”. Danger Room’s new addition Spencer “Attackerman” Ackerman describes the magazine as “a lifestyle rag for the conspiracy-minded takfiri, filling the inexplicably vacant media space between O: The Oprah Magazine, Popular Mechanics and the al-Qaida book Knights Under The Prophet’s Banner.” A number of other articles perpetuate the same kitschy notions about the “magazine” and fail to examine any of the numerous anomalous and absurd problems that exist with the “Inspire” magazine story. In fact, only The Atlantic had the decency to even obtain the original file, as we have also done. However, this may explain why very few of the articles even mention the possibility that the “magazine” could be inauthentic. Nearly all of the aforementioned articles note oddities like the magazine’s “incomplete release” in the form of a 3MB PDF that is nothing more than 3 teaser pages, including a table of contents, then 64 pages of what is being described as “corrupted images”. Though, in the actual PDF file these images are searchable text files and not corrupted image output. These two things are dealt with differently by Adobe’s PDF OCR text processing system and are easy to differentiate.
Among other strange anomalies is the magazine’s table of contents, which describes a feature article called “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of your Mom”. This was particularly seized upon by the media and has been repeated in nearly every article about the magazine. However, no one has noted that one of the other articles is on “Sending and Receiving Encrypted Messages” and is part of a feature called “Open Source Jihad”. What makes this point specifically interesting is that the feature’s description makes use of the word “terrorist” in a self-referential way. This is strange because Al-Qaeda do not openly use the term “terrorists” in referring to themselves. It would be very difficult to win any conflict from the perspective of “terrorism”, this is why terrorism is always cloaked in moral ideals. Moreover, numerous Al-Qaeda videos specifically emphasize their insistence on not being construed as “terrorists”, but as Islamic Mujaheddin or “freedom fighters”.
The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder notes that “It is possible, although not likely, that the magazine is a fabrication, a production of a Western intelligence agency that wants to undermine Al Qaeda by eroding confidence in its production and distribution networks. The U.S. is engaged in direct net-based warfare with jihadis; this sort of operation would not be too difficult to pull off.”
A post at the Al-Fallujah Islamic Forum describes the magazine this way:
بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
السلام عليكم ورحمة الله و بركاته
الاخوة الكرام اعضاء وزوار منتديات الفلوجة الاسلامية
نحذركم من تحميل او فتح ملف PDF لمجلة INSPIRE من مؤسسة الملاحم
هذا الملف يحوي فيروسات وملفات تجسس
نحن ننبهكم من انزال هذا ال PDF باي موقع او الثقة في اصدارات هذه المجلة لانها اعمال الكلاب المنافقين المرتدين الذين يحاولون بوصم جهود المجاهادين
فلأنتباه الأنتباه والتحذير يارعاكم الله
ادارة الفلوجة الاسلامية
In the name of God the Most Merciful and CompassionatePeace be upon you and the mercy of Allah and his blessings.WARNINGDear Brothers, vistors to the AL-Fallujah Islamic ForumWe warn you againt downloading the PDF file to INSPIRE magazine from AL-Malahem Media FoundationThis file contains virus and spyware!!!We warn you against downloading this PDF file in any website or to trust any publications of this magazine as it is the work of the apostate hypocrit dogs who are trying to dicredit the Mujahideens.So be AWARE, be AWARE may God protect you.Your brothers in the administration at AL-Fallujah Islamic Forum
The following images constitute the complete readable portion of the “Inspire” magazine PDF file. Several examples of the “corrupted images” are also included:
Because we are not certain that the file is completely clean and safe, we are not posting it openly. If you would like to obtain a copy, contact us.