Debunking Al Qaeda new Inspire productions – by F. Borgonovo, G. Porrino, S. Lucini, A. Bolpagni

In late December 2023, pro-AQ users shared two videos on various social platforms (X, Telegram, and RocketChat) that seemed to breathe new life into Inspire’s infamous magazine series.

The first video, which acted as a trailer, showed the caption “Open Source Jihad”. The narrator announced the Open Source Jihad as a “new form” ready to be launched as a propaganda spearhead. Yet, this is not the case. OSJ is a special section present from the first issue of Inspire magazine. The magazine gained notoriety for its interesting layout, emphasis on encouraging readers to wage “individual jihad” against the West, and “Open Source Jihad,” which offered guidance on how to utilize weapons and make homemade bombs to receive instruction in cryptography.

The trailer was followed by a 45:51 minutes video, whose content consisted of practical instructions to make a “Hidden Bomb”. The video provides detailed information on how to “breach security barriers”, “cover the bomb”, and which targets to hit. 

Despite the media impact this video had on the field experts, its content dates to the 13th issue of Inspire published in December 2014. The video instructions on how to make the explosive device match perfectly with the pictures in the magazine. Our research suggested that the video was made at the same time as Inspire was published and that frames were extracted to be integrated into the magazine. This video was then published in its entirety nine years later.

However, there is an attempt to update the materials. The producers of the video have included characters and elements that allow the video to be placed in the current context such as the the recent crisis in Gaza and Elon Musk as a target.

Starting from this evidence there are several possible scenarios behind this “recycling”:

  • They are missing the technical or narrative capabilities to realize new practical instructions.
  • They need to take advantage of the ongoing conflict in Gaza, which is why they did not have enough time to make a new production.
  • The two videos and their publication were isolated actions made by loosely pro-AQ users.

These contingencies must be exploited. They represent an opportunity to create efficient proactive counter-narratives to discredit violent extremism and impede the further dissemination of jihadist propaganda.