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GUY RAZ, host:

For at least two years now, top intelligence officials have insisted that al-Qaida's strength has been severely degraded, and yet an Internet posting earlier this week may suggest the group is trying to taunt those very same officials.

A few pages of a flashy new English language magazine appeared online. It's called Inspire, and it claims to be the product of al-Qaida with such headlines as "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom." And it features the work of contributing writers like Anwar al-Awlaki and Osama bin Laden.

If it's authentic, it would be the most sophisticated attempt by al-Qaida to reach English-speaking audiences. Juan Zarate has seen it. He served as deputy national security adviser under President George W. Bush and he's now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Juan Zarate, welcome.

Mr. JUAN ZARATE (Senior Adviser, Center for Strategic and International Studies): Thank you. Thanks for having me.

RAZ: A few pages of this magazine were posted on the Internet. Firstly, do you think that it's authentic? I mean, do you think this is an al-Qaida product?

Mr. ZARATE: I think it actually is. And I think it demonstrates al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, the al-Qaida brand in Yemen, their attempt to actually consolidate their presence online with a Western publication.

Whether or not it ultimately proves to be dangerous is an altogether different question. But I think people think it is coming from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and likely Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-Yemeni cleric.

RAZ: I want to ask you about him in a moment. But first, one of the bylines in the cover in addition to al-Awlaki is Osama bin Laden. We don't know if he penned a piece for the magazine. Do you think that bin Laden would even be aware of this publication?

Mr. ZARATE: Yeah, the ties between the al-Qaida branch in Yemen and the al-Qaida core in the Afghan-Pak border region is actually pretty close. I mean, the people running the group in Yemen have a longstanding tie to al-Qaida. I doubt highly that bin Laden sat down to pen something original for this inaugural edition. But, you know, he is certainly aware of what's happening with the movement and certainly aware that he needs to be a voice in it.

Interestingly, though, this doesn't come from the al-Qaida core, the as-Sahab media arm. This comes from al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, which I think may be the most significant dimension of this.

RAZ: Yeah, I want to ask you that because it was printed, allegedly, printed by the Yemen branch of al-Qaida where, of course, the American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki lives. He is believed to be on a U.S. government target list for death. What does this say about his ascendancy in al-Qaida?

Mr. ZARATE: Government officials have clearly now stated from CIA director on down that Anwar al-Awlaki has moved from the mere firebrand to a more of an operational role.

Well, again, one of the interesting things about this publication is it's yet another extension of his attempts to reach Western audiences.

RAZ: He's been making online videos for a few years now.

Mr. ZARATE: Yeah, I know. He's been online. He's been effective in many ways to convert the narrative of radical, violence Islamic jihad into, you know, Westernist...

RAZ: For English speakers...

Mr. ZARATE: ...for English speakers...

RAZ: ...Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

Mr. ZARATE: Exactly. And, in fact, his latest video before this journal has come out was directed to American Muslims, telling American Muslims that they needed to take off the shackles of living here under this government.

And so, clearly, he's trying to foment a sense of division, a sense of this narrative gaining momentum in the West and in particular in the United States. I think what they're hoping with this particular journal is to build on that message, to build on the momentum and to cast the net very widely to try to attract as many people to take up the violent cause and to commit some act of violence in the U.S. or in the West.

RAZ: That's Juan Zarate, former deputy national security adviser in the Bush administration and now a senior adviser with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, speaking about the alleged al-Qaida glossy magazine that appeared online this past week.

Juan Zarate, thanks for coming in.

Mr. ZARATE: Thank you. My pleasure.

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