The image is the cover of the March 2010 issue of the magazine Nawa-i-Afghan Jihad. The appearance of lightning and a storm may be associated with divine creative energy and fecundity, or the foretelling of divine anger and punishment. The latter is a particularly likely interpretation when viewed in combination with other elements in the image expressing the demise of Western symbols of power. Notably, the lightning in the image is portrayed as emanating from the seal of the Prophet Muhammad (the black circle with the words “muhammad rasul Allah” (“Muhammad the messenger of God”).
The American flag, or parts thereof (such as the stars and stripes), are widely used in jihadi propaganda to evoke negative sentiments towards U.S. foreign policy and military campaigns. In a similar manner, the Israeli, British and UN flags, as well as the U.S. capitol building and its surroundings, are all incorporated in the image to express a perceived alignment between those forces and their destruction in the future. The Arabic caption is a Qur’anic quote (Q 58: 21): “kataba Allah la-aghlibanna ana wa-rusuli” (“God decreed: I shall vanquish, my messengers and I”). The Urdu caption underneath is a translation of the verse.