Looking back over the last few years, it's safe to say al Qaeda has had a rough stretch. For one thing, the terrorist network's leadership and organizational structure has been decimated by the Obama administration. For another, al Qaeda's message to the Middle East -- change within the region is only possible through violence and civilian bloodshed -- has been discredited by the Arab Spring.
How bad have things become for the terrorist network? No one wants to read its magazine, either.
In June 2010, members of the vibrant online jihadist community launched al-Qaeda's first-ever English-language magazine. The premier issue of Inspire was glossy (or it would be if you printed the downloadable PDF, at least), filled with color photos and languid essays on the Great Satan, and a bombshell in the Western media, which relished the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of al-Qaeda propagandists.Bad news, however, for the editors hiding out in Yemen or Pakistan or wherever they might happen to be: Inspire, like so many newspapers and magazines here in the U.S., has seen its readership absolutely crater, judging by the download rates at jihadist site Tawhed.
The Atlantic's Max Fisher published this image based on statistics compiled by New America Foundation terrorism analyst Brian Fishman, and graphed by the estimable Derek Thompson:
Fisher added, "[B]e glad you're not managing circulation at Inspire. It's probably one place where you really, really don't want to piss off your bosses."