Document Type

Report

Publication Date

6-2021

Abstract

Three Americans have had a profound impact on the evolution of jihadist English-language propaganda, particularly in the online magazine format, and revolutionized jihadi strategic, operational, and ideological trends in the West: Anwar al-Awlaki (1971-2011) and Samir Khan (1985-2011) who edited Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula’s Inspire, and Ahmad Abousamra (1981-2017) who edited the Islamic State’s Dabiq and Rumiyah magazines. The Americans were not the first to publish English-language magazines designed to appeal to Western audiences and mobilize support for wars in Muslim lands. That distinction arguably goes to the Cultural Council of Afghanistan Resistance and its quarterly magazine Afghan Jehad, which was in print from 1987 to 1992.1 Nor were the Americans the first to produce an online jihadist English-language magazine with the pioneering Australian magazine Nida’ul Islam emerging in the 1990s over a decade before Khan’s Jihad Recollections(a fact acknowledged in the magazine’s second issue).2 Yet these three Americans, in their own ways, revolutionized jihadist English-language propaganda. What separates Al-Awlaki, Khan, and Abousamra from their predecessors and peers is arguably their unique leadership roles, the strategic and historical context within which they were active, and the posthumous legacies that their respective organizations (and other Sunni jihadists) have tried to exploit.

COinS