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.

This specific image is mourning the death of the spiritual leader of Jund Ansar Allah (JAA), ‘Abd al-Latif Musa Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi (with the gray-white beard). Loosely following common Muslim funerary epigraphy, the inscription here opens at the top with Qur’anic text. Most often, the inscription will also include the name of the deceased and the date of death, and the inscription will often be paired with a shrine or other structure, as well as other elements in a traditional expression of death and mourning. The Qur’anic quote reads: (Q 3:169) “wa-la tahsabanna lladhina  qutilu fi sabil Allah amwatan bal ahya’un ‘inda rabbihim yurzaqun” (“Do not consider those killed in the path of God dead, on the contrary, they are alive, being sustained by God”). Based on that text, as a mournful response, the caption underneath reads: “nahtasib ‘inda Allah al-shaykh al- mujahid Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi, rahimahu Allah” (“we consider the mujahid (fighter) shaykh Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi to be with God, may God have mercy on him”).

The logo at the top left is virtually identical to the familiar al-Qa’ida in Iraq/al-Qa’ida in the Arabian Peninsula logo, with the addition of the phrase “imarat ghaza al-islamiyya” (“the Islamic Emirate of Gaza”). This clearly expresses the group’s affiliation with (or at the very least identification with) the global jihadi movement.

More Information
Group Name Jund Ansar Allah
Group Type Jihadist Group
Group Affiliation Local Jihad (Independent entities with limited or no ties to international / external movements)
Dominant Colors Light Blue, Black
Secondary Colors Yellow, White, Red
Language Arabic
Isolated Phrases / Mottoes / Slogans 1) Q 3:169 wa-la tahsabanna lladhina qutilu fi sabil Allah amwatan bal ahya'un `inda rabbihim yurzaqun 2) shahada 3) ahtasib `inda Allah al-shaykh al-mujahid Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi, rahimahu Allah
Image Number 0333
Groups Region of Operation Middle East
Groups Country of Operation Israel/Palestine
Weapons Firearms, Automatic / Assault Rifle, Ammo Belt / Vest
Body Parts Face / Bust
Air Clouds / Fog, Sky
Geopolitical Symbols Non-country Flag, Symbol of party, movement or company, Slogan
Geopolitical Analysis Black flag. Jund Ansar Allah logo - AQI/AQAP logo with the addition of phrase "imarat ghaza al-islamiyya" [the Islamic Emirate of Gaza], black background bearing a white text of the shahada that includes the seal of the Prophet.
People Group Leader / Influential figure, Spiritual Leader / Idealogue, Operative / Warrior (=mujahid), Man / Men
People Analysis Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi, JAA spiritual leader. Abu al-Nur al-Maqdisi, JAA spiritual leader. JAA gunman.
Religious Textual References Quranic Text, Quranic Citations, Shahada, Other Medieval Text, Use of Calligraphy
Religious Textual References Analysis 3:169. La ila illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah. Blessing/prayer for the deceased "rahimahu Allah" [may God have mercy on him].
Religious Symbols Holy Site, Black / White / Green Banners, Seal of the Prophet
Religious Symbols Analysis Dome of the Rock.
Fauna Dove / Default Bird
Flora Grass / Leaves / Branches Only
Topography Man-made Structure / Landmark
Topography Analysis Minaret of Ibn Taymiyya mosque in Rafah, Gaza
Visual Themes The shrine in the image is the Dome of the Rock. Reverence for it is shared by all Muslims across sectarian lines, though it holds special significance for Palestinian groups as a powerful symbol of self-determination. The Dome of the Rock 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), and it is considered the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and al-Madina.

The black banner hoisted on the Dome frequently appears in jihadist imagery. 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 (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 white birds flying around the minaret on the right taps into the world of birds, a very important motif 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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