The image was taken from a video recording of a strategy meeting held by the leaders of al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). The featured leaders are (from right to left): Abu al-Harith Muhammad al-‘Awfi (a field commander who would subsequently defect from the group), Abu Basir Nasir al-Wahishi (AQAP’s current leader), Abu Sufyan Said al-Shihri (former Guantanamo inmate), and Abu Hurayra Qasim al-Raymi (military commander). The caption reads: “min huna nabda’u wa-fi al-aqsa naltaqi” (“we start from here and we shall meet at al-Aqsa”). The reference to al-Aqsa in Jerusalem (recognized and revered by all Muslims, although it is mostly a powerful symbol of Palestinian nationhood) evokes popular sentiments regarding the Israeli-Arab conflict, and especially the Israeli occupation, and helps the organization emphasize the global nature of its aspirations and strategy.

The black banner in the background behind the leaders bears the shahada (Islamic testimony of faith holding that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger), which is also incorporated in the logo of AQAP’s media wing sada al-malahim (the echo of epic battles).  According to prophetic tradition (hadith), the black flag was the battle flag of the Prophet Muhammad and it was carried into battle by many of his companions. The image of the black flag has been used as a symbol of religious revolt and engagement in battle (i.e., jihad). In the contemporary Islamist movement, the black flag with the shahada is used to evoke notions of jihad and of reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate.

The date of the image is 10 Muharram 1430 A.H. (7 January 2009 C.E.).

More Information
Group Name AQ/ AQAP al-Malahim media production company
Group Type Jihadist Group
Group Affiliation AQ Affiliates / Associates
Dominant Colors Black, Yellow
Secondary Colors White
Language Arabic
Isolated Phrases / Mottoes / Slogans 1) Min huna nabda'u wa-fi al-aqsa naltaqi 2) Shahada
Image Number 0279
Groups Region of Operation Middle East, Global
Weapons Firearms, Automatic / Assault Rifle, Ammo Belt / Vest
Body Parts Face / Bust
Geopolitical Symbols Non-country Flag, Symbol of party, movement or company, Slogan
Geopolitical Analysis Black flag with the text of the shahada. al-Malahim logo - golden colored word al-malahim with a black banner bearing the shahada and the seal of the Prophet.
People Group Leader / Influential figure, Operational Leader, Operative / Warrior (=mujahid), Man / Men
People Analysis Abu al-Harith Muhammad al-`Awfi (field commander), Abu Basir Nasir al-Wahishi (AQAP leader), Abu Sufyan al-Azdi al-Shuhri (former Guantanamo inmate), and Abu Hurayra Qasim al-Rimi (military commander).
Religious Textual References Shahada, Use of Calligraphy
Religious Textual References Analysis La ila illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah (including the seal of the Prophet)
Religious Symbols Black / White / Green Banners, Seal of the Prophet
Religious Symbols Analysis Black

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