The image is the cover of the January-February 2010 issue of the magazine Nawa-i-Afghan Jihad. There are number of elements common to jihadi propaganda that heighten the bellicose nature of the image. For instance, 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. Here, the flag appears torn and withered and lacks its vibrant blue. It has fallen and is laying on the sidelines of Afghanistan’s map, which is depicted without bordering countries evoking the national context and scope of the Afghan jihad and designating Afghanistan as an important theater for jihad. At the same time, the torn and fallen U.S. flag suggests ongoing military failures of U.S. forces. The appearance of injured and dead U.S. soldiers further emphasizes this point.
The caption on the map of Afghanistan is a calligraphic representation of the text of the shahada (Islamic testimony of faith holding that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger), which appears again at the top to the right of a copy of the Qur’an and against a dark blue background of a sky view. Finally, Afghanistan appears highlighted against a partial image of the earth. Jihadi visual propaganda typically uses images of the globe or planet earth to globalize localized issues and conflicts, as well as to articulate the global aims of particular groups.