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.

The text in this specific image reads: “rahil al-fursan-sa-namdi nahwa al-majd bi-silahina wa-imanina” (“the [last] journey of the cavaliers-we shall continue towards glory with our weapons and our faith”). The word commonly used for “deceased” is “al-rahil,” which literally translates to “the traveler.” The deceased in this image is identified as “al-shahid al-mujahid Wasim Mansur” (“the martyred fighter Wasim Mansur”). Interestingly, the caption in the top left corner appears in Hebrew as well as Arabic, although the Hebrew text suggests that the translation from Arabic was performed by a non-native speaker.  The logo in the top right of the image appears to be the logo of Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

In addition to the picture of the deceased and the caption, the image contains a number of elements that are part of the jihadi visual propaganda repertoire.  The image also features the Dome of the Rock. While Muslims across sectarian lines share a reverence for many holy sites, some sites hold special significance for certain groups. For instance, the Dome of the Rock is recognized and revered by all Muslims, as it was built in 692 A.D. by the Umayyid caliph ‘Abd al-Malik on the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in his mi‘raj (night journey). Indeed, it is considered the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and al-Madina. At the same time, the Dome of the Rock is a powerful symbol of Palestinian nationhood.


More Information
Group Name Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) - Saraya al-Quds [al-Quds squadrons] aka Shqaqi faction; the logo indicates under it the words: al-i`lam al-harbi [military media].
Group Type Jihadist Group
Dominant Colors Orange, Gold
Secondary Colors Blue, Black
Language Arabic
Isolated Phrases / Mottoes / Slogans 1) Rahil al-fursan - sa-namdi nahwa al-majd bi-silahina wa-imanina 2) Shahada 3) al-shahid al-mujahid wasim mansur
Image Number 0273
Groups Region of Operation Middle East
Groups Country of Operation Israel/Palestine
Date Image Created Online 10/08/2010
Weapons Rockets, Missile, Non-Military Technology, Military Vehicle / Aircraft
Body Parts Face / Bust
Air Analysis Sun. Orange sky.
Air Celestial Bodies, Clouds / Fog, Sky
Liquid Drops / Tear
Fire Light Rays / Light
Geopolitical Symbols Symbol of party, movement or company, Slogan
Geopolitical Analysis PIJ logo - Qur'anic verse 2:191 arched over a takbir and the Dome of the Rock sitting on two yellow fists with two crossed rifles jutting out in the back; a red map of Israel/Palestine down the middle; the phrase saraya al-quds is arched under the logo, completing the circle with the top arch.
People Operative / Warrior (=mujahid), Man / Men
People Analysis PIJ fighter, Wasim Mansur
Religious Textual References Shahada
Religious Textual References Analysis La ila illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah
Religious Symbols Holy Site
Religious Symbols Analysis Dome of the Rock
Fauna Dove / Default Bird
Flora Grass / Leaves / Branches Only
Topography Horizon, Man-made Structure / Landmark
Topography Analysis Domed mosque
Visual Themes The image features birds flying in the background. The world of birds in general is very important in the symbolic language of Islam. Pre-Islamic Arabs imagined soul birds fluttering around the grave of the deceased, and the bird continues to symbolize the flight of the soul beyond the confines of this world. Doves in particular are considered sacred, since they are believed to have protected Muhammad during his nocturnal journey. It is in this manner that the dove can be linked to the notion of martyrdom and the rise of a martyr’s soul to heaven. The dove is also a symbol of loving fidelity, which is manifested by the collar of dark feathers around its neck, called “the dove’s necklace.”

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