Slate and the Al-Qaeda Magazine

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Contrarian Web magazine Slate certainly has its critics, but none would compare it to a terrorist magazine--leave it to a Slate writer to do that. On Monday, Brian Palmer argued that al-Qaeda's Web publication Sada al-Malahim isn't "all that different" from Slate. Why? Palmer observes that Sada al-Malahim's "content is separated out into various departments and rubrics--like 'Martyr Biographies,' which recount the life stories of suicide bombers." Like Slate, the magazine features articles "penned by notable figures, like Nasser al-Wahishi, a former secretary to Osama bin Laden." The aspiring terrorist and intelligence officer must-read even has, he points out, "an Explainer-like feature that answers reader questions about current topics in jihadism. (Here's one: The prophet commanded us to expel infidels from the Arabian Peninsula. Which countries was he referring to?)"

But there are, perhaps, a couple of differences. Sada al-Malahim runs a much leaner business, for starters, lacking a central office and probably relying on unpaid contributors. But as Palmer observes, this involves a familiar tradeoff, where cost-cutting diminishes quality, resulting in "more misspellings and grammatical errors than you might see in a commercial magazine."

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