It is believed that Muslim martyrs will be highly rewarded in the afterlife for their sacrifice and that they hold a special position in heavenly paradise. It is therefore not surprising that martyrdom is a central theme in jihadi visual propaganda.

In this image, the figure, Abu al-Bara’ al-‘Utaybi (whose name appears on the left), is shown against a light blue and white background that evokes notions of death (in the state of purity), shrouds, grief, mourning and the attainment of martyrdom. Al-‘Utaybi was an operative of Ansar al-Sunna who purportedly carried out a suicide attack on 9 September 2003 in Irbil, Iraq. The caption reads: “sawfa yamdi al-ra’s fa-la yartadi du‘fan bi-qawl aw jawab; sawfa tahduni dima’u ‘abiqat qad anarat kull fajj lil-dhahab” (“the head could be destroyed but it wouldn’t approve of weakness in words or response; sweet smelling blood will drive me to follow as they have illuminated every mountain path to take”). The words are a verse from a famous poem written in eulogy for Sayyid Qutb by his sister. The crossed rifle is a common motif in jihadi imagery, indicating engagement in violent activity. While the word “musk” is not mentioned here, the phrase “sweet smelling blood” in the caption is no doubt a reference to this popular motif in jihadi propaganda. Musk is associated with martyrdom, since in the Islamic tradition, the bodies of martyrs are believed to exude a sweet and aromatic smell after death. This fragrant smell is considered the sweet smell of paradise (Qur’anic verse 83:23), and is juxtaposed with the putrid odor of enemy bodies.

More Information
Group Name Jaysh Ansar al-Sunna aka Jama`at Ansar al-Sunna aka Ansar al-Islam
Group Type Jihadist Group
Group Affiliation Local Jihad (Independent entities with limited or no ties to international / external movements)
Dominant Colors White, Yellow
Secondary Colors Red, Blue, Green
Language Arabic
Visual or Textual Reference to Significant Recent Events
Date EntryAnalysis Entry
Visual reference to the death of Ansar al-Sunna operative Abu al-Bara' al-`Utaybi who carried out a suicide attack on 9 Sept. 2003 in Irbil, Iraq.
Isolated Phrases / Mottoes / Slogans Sawfa yamdi al-ra's fa-la yartadi du`fan bi-qawl aw jawab; sawfa tahduni dima'u `abiqat qad anarat kull fajj lil-dhahab
Image Number 0198
Groups Region of Operation Middle East
Groups Country of Operation Iraq
Weapons Firearms, Automatic / Assault Rifle, AK47, Rockets, RPG
Body Parts Face / Bust
Air Clouds / Fog, Sky
Geopolitical Symbols Slogan
People Operative / Warrior (=mujahid), Man / Men
People Analysis Ansar al-Sunna operative Abu al-Bara' al-`Utaybi

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