The image was produced by Shumukh al-Islam Network. It is comprised of a number of elements that highlight the bellicose nature of the group. At the top right appears a picture of Usama bin Ladin, clearly linking the group to the global jihadi movement and lending it an aura of legitimacy. To the left of the picture, in a large red font, is the name of the al-Qa’ida affiliated web forum, Shabakat Shumukh al-Islam. Under the picture of Bin Ladin is the caption: “dawlat al-islam al-‘iraqiyya, al-din kulluhu li-lah” (“ISI, religion [worship] belongs entirely to God”). The second part of this caption is a partial quote from an oft-cited Qur’anic verse (Q 8:39).
The point of the caption is hammered home in the dominant representation of a globe centered in the image, with the Dome of the Rock and a black banner bearing the shahada (Islamic testimony of faith holding that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger) inserted in the map roughly where Jerusalem is located. Jihadi visual propaganda uses images of the globe/planet earth in order to globalize localized issues and conflicts, as well as to articulate the global aims/nature of the jihadi struggle and/or particular groups. The appearance of the globe here globalizes local Iraqi issues and articulates the global aims of the group. Furthermore, positing the Dome of the Rock side by side with the above slogan expresses to the viewer the desire for jihadist world domination. The traditionally dressed figure shouldering an RPG on the left, together with the elements discussed above, emphasizes and links several important jihadi theaters: Iraq, Israel/Palestine and Afghanistan.
At the bottom left appears a logo consisting of the word “al-Asfar” (“the yellow” which probably refers to the image’s creator) and a black banner in front of a bloody traditional sword. According to 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 (Islamic testimony of faith holding that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger) is used to evoke notions of jihad and of reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate.
The sword in the image suggests a desire on the part of the designer to link the message 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, his companions and their successful military campaigns. Thus, the sword helps depict current jihadi activities as modern extensions of those campaigns and lends them an aura of legitimacy.