This image is a clip from a 15 minute, 40 second Urdu-dubbed video in which Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Hakimullah Mehsud is interviewed by a representative of the group’s media arm, Umar Studio. The logo of Umar Studio, a yellow calligraphical representation of the word ‘Umar, appears on the right.
The background against which the figures appear is significant in several respects. First, there is an image of the Ka‘ba below two crossed swords. Reverence for the holy site of the Ka‘ba in Mecca is shared by all Muslims across sectarian lines, as it is the symbolic and literal center of the Islamic faith for all Muslims. Because of its status in Islam, the Ka‘ba is a common motif in jihadi imagery.
The swords are likely a reference to early Islamic history and the first generation of Muslims. Swords are seen as noble weapons that embody the religious purity, nobility and righteousness that is associated with the Prophet and his companions, as well as their successful military campaigns. Thus, the image of a sword helps depict current jihadi activities as modern extensions of those early campaigns and lends them an aura of legitimacy.
Beneath the Ka‘ba and the swords is a blue and white banner bearing the name of the TTP in Urdu. On the right is a white banner bearing the text of the takbir (the words “Allahu Akbar,” or “God is Great”).