While participating in jihad gives a jihadist important religious credibility, death in battle provides immortality, as the deceased is ranked a martyr. It is believed that Muslim martyrs will be highly rewarded in the afterlife for their sacrifice and hold a special position in heavenly paradise. It is therefore not surprising that martyrdom is a central theme in jihadi visual propaganda.
This particular image is a “present” included with issue 16 of the magazine Vanguard of Khurasan. It is dedicated to the 30 December 2009 suicide bombing of CIA Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, which resulted in the deaths of seven CIA agents. The cover features the assailant, Abu Mallal al-Hummam Khalil Muhammad al-Balawi (also known as Abu Dujana al-Khorasani), and the caption reads: “risala fi laylat al-‘amaliyya al-istishhadiyya, al-asad al-humam abu dujana al-khurasani” (“a letter from the night of the martyrdom operation of the lion, the hero Abu Dujana al-Khorasani”). The image was taken from a video which is an interview with the assailant in which he reinforces the need to commit such attacks. This message is perhaps particularly resonant coming from Abu Dujana, who was a well known administrator of jihadist forums.