The image is a link to an online video produced by al-Malahim, which is the mouthpiece for al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), entitled “nahwa hayat karima” (“toward a life of dignity”). The image features the al-Malahim logo, which consists of the word “al-Malahim” (“epic battles”) and a black banner bearing the seal of the Prophet Muhammad. The black banner in general is a joint symbol of vengeance and revolt that traces its roots to prophetic times. According to hadith (prophetic tradition or report), the black flag was the battle flag of the Prophet Muhammad and it was carried into battle by many of his companions. In the contemporary Islamist movement, the black flag is used to evoke notions of jihad and of reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate. The black banner with the Prophet’s seal in particular has become synonymous with al-Qa’ida and the global jihadi network.
It is interesting to note that the image represents a typical format by which links are posted on jihadi web forums. Specifically, there is a top banner introducing an “excellent video production,” followed by a cover image from the video. The ornate design of the banner is a common characteristic as well. The figure on the right is Abu Sufyan al-Azdi (also known as Sa‘id al-Shahri) and the one on the left (the armed figure) looks like Abu Basir Nasir al-Wuhayshi. Both are senior AQAP operatives, based in Yemen.