Khan spent years in his parents Charlotte basement blogging, posting al Qaeda messages, and becoming increasingly radicalized by the war in Iraq. His blog's popularity rose as his rhetoric became more extreme.
In 2009, he started a precursor to Inspire called Jihad Recollections, saying, "We have decided to take it upon ourselves to produce the first jihadi magazine in English." In the third issue, amidst calls for jihad and attacks against non-Muslims, Khan devoted space to a gushing review of a product dear to the hearts of American jihadis and infidels alike, Apple's iPhone 3. According to Khan, iPhone was "quickly becoming a standard as opposed to just another phone. With over 35,000 applications available, it becomes a joke when we hear about the so-called 'iPhone killers'."
According to Segal of the ADL, Khan left the U.S. for Yemen in October 2009, which is around the time the fourth and final issue of Jihad Recollections appeared. In Yemen, he launched Inspire, and since his arrival in Yemen, say U.S. authorities, his on-line efforts have been in conjunction with AQAP. Inspire's second edition, which was published before the October printer bomb attempt and included Khan's claim to be "Al Qaeda to the core," featured a photo of the Chicago skyline, which U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials think was a tip-off of the terror group's intention to address the bombs to Jewish targets in Chicago.
There has been skepticism about Inspire's authenticity and Khan's connection to some Al Qaeda figures in Yemen, but several organizations outside the U.S. government that monitor extremist web sites and statements have concluded that Khan and Inspire are in fact working with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
Ben Venzke, who runs IntelCenter, one of the groups that monitors extremist sites, quickly concluded that Khan's magazine was real. He pointed to the most recent issue of Inspire, which took gloating credit for the cargo bomb plot.
"We have never seen a jihadist group in the Al Qaeda orbit ever release, let alone only a few weeks after, such a detailed accounting of the philosophy, operational details, intent and next steps following a major attack," said Venzke.
"This may represent a new level of interaction by jihadi groups following an operation and is a far cry from the days of shadowy claims and questions as to who was actually responsible."
In the most recent issue of the magazine, Khan's used a mocking tone to respond to Western security procedures intended to prevent further bombs sent via cargo shipments.
"The British government said that if a toner weighs more than 500 grams it won't be allowed on board a plane. Who is the genius who came up with this suggestion? Do you think that we have nothing to send but printers?"