July 12, 2010
Is North Carolina's Samir Khan Behind New al Qaeda Magazine? Quotes Yousef al-Khattab (Updated, BUMPED)
It's a question I've been asking behind the scenes since the first failed version of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula magazine was published, then almost immediately taken off the internet shelves. I hadn't planned on saying anything in public, but since Aaron went ahead and let the cat out of the bag, there's no use in keeping this one secret.
Yes, Samir Khan and his network of online friends are almost certainly behind this. The layout smacks of Khan's "al Fursan" productions and "Jihad Recollections" and my first gut instinct was that he had something to do with it -- this was before the magazine was actually (finally) released over the weekend.
Last week I sent out an informal questionnaire to a number of prominent experts in jihad propaganda asking them who they thought was behind the magazine -- this was after the original and corrupt version of the mag was put out, but before the full version was finally released.
The answers tended to fall into two camps.
1) The corrupt file was an op designed to sow discord within the ranks of al Qaeda online.
2) Samir Khan.
[UPDATE: The third possibility remains that Samir made the file, but someone else corrupted it in transit ... on purpose. Something Aaron just emailed me.]
In addition to Aaron's and my own first impression that the basement dweller formerly from Charlotte, North Carolina is tied to the magazine are Jarret Brachman and Christopher Anzalone. As of this writing, we're the only ones saying this publicly (that I know of), although others are saying it privately.
But it's more than just the layout and the fact that Sammy aborted his al Fursan project and has, in fact, left blogging altogether. Both of the publications seem to have an affinity for Yousef al Khattab and the small circle of his friends at Revolution Muslim and The Islamic Thinkers Society of New York.
For instance, one section of the new magazine quotes Khattab, "I love Osama bin Laden". Here's the screenshot:
The same section has a quote about the Islamic Thinkers Society of New York, "They've got an anti-Western, anti-democratic, anti-US, pro-al Qaeda message." Here's the screenshot.
Khattab, Revolution Muslim, and the Islamic Thinkers Society are clearly on the radar screen of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. Since Samir is familiar with all of them, the simplest explanation for this is that he and his pals at the now defunct "The Ignored Pieces Puzzles of Knowledge" blog are behind Inspire magazine.
I may update this post as I'm just now reading the entire thing. Feel free to drop your thoughts below, and especially drop links to others who may have the same take or even opposing viewpoints.
UPDATE: Sammy's blog is not as defunct as I thought. For some time it has been run by his buddy "Tarbiya", but since it hadn't been updated in so long I thought that even "Tarbiya" had abandoned it. Not so. In fact, it's been updated twice since the middle of May.
Guess what the two posts are about?
It's almost as if "Tarbiya" and Samir are keeping in contact .....
Let me also remind readers that Samir's blog continues to operate on the servers of The Ansar al Mujhadeen English Forum (AMEF). A website dedicated to Salafi jihadism (al Qaeda types) but run by a number of Americans. Khan's blog is the only blog hosted by the forum.
And the akhis from the Revolution Muslim blog take notice of the magazine, and post a lengthy disclaimer that they don't necessarily endorse its veiws. Right, we believe that....
Also, Khan was an open admirer of Anwar al-Awlaki for years. Which would explain how the two became so chummy, and why Samir suddenly went silent last year.
The major news, so far, seems to have been that the magazine threatens the founder of Everybody Draw Mohammad Day. Radical Muslims threaten "blasphemer"? Yawn.
But if an American is behind an official al Qaeda magazine, that seems like an even bigger story. Especially since that American has been on the radar screen for years and years.