Al Qaeda is entering the world of women's magazines with a new glossy — dubbed the "Jihad Cosmo" — that enthusiastically covers fashion and skin care alongside suicide bombings. Here, a brief guide:
What is this magazine exactly?
Al Qaeda has launched a women's magazine called Al-Shamikha, which translates to "The Majestic Woman." It combines beauty and fashion tips with terrorist-related content. The first issue's cover featured a photo of a sub-machine gun with a smaller insert of a veiled woman.
The 31 pages include advice for singles on "marrying a mujahideen," a beauty column urging women to improve their complexion by keeping their faces covered and staying indoors, and an interview with the widow of a suicide bomber who praises her late husband's bravery. A preview for the next issue promises more skin-care tips and instructions on how to wage electronic jihad. "You can have it all!" says Mark Steyn at the National Review. "It's like Cosmo for Waziristan."
Is this for real?
Well, it's definitely out there in the world, but its origins seem murky. The magazine is reportedly being distributed online by the same al Qaeda media group that publishes Inspire, a glossy magazine aimed at young Muslim extremists whose authenticity has also been questioned. Slate's KJ Dell'Antonia notes that the Middle East Observatory hasn't claimed the magazine as a product of al Qaeda, and U.S. analysts haven't weighed in. In any case, says Dell'Antonia, "neither beauty tips nor man-catching advice seem consistent with the womanly ideals of the conservative Muslim, and it's hard to reconcile a cover image of a woman posing with a sub-machine gun with a culture that does not allow women to drive."
Why would al Qaeda want to publish a women's magazine anyway?
"Al Qaeda sees how effective magazines are at pushing the ideals of Western culture and want to try the same thing," suggests James Brandon from Quilliam, an anti-extremism think tank, as quoted by the Daily Mail.