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 portrays the faces of three JAA members (Hani Muhammad al-Tarabin or “Abu `Adnan,” Tahir `Isa `Isa or “Abu Muslim” and Fahad Muhammad al-Minawi or “Aby Suhayb”) killed by IDF forces during an attack on the Nahal Oz fuel terminal (June 8, 2009). On right appears the Dome of the Rock. It is recognized and revered by all Muslims, but it is particularly a powerful symbol of Palestinian self-determination. It 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. Because of its status in Islam, the Dome of the Rock is often used to code a message of inspiration for jihadi activism.
Above the dome there is a black banner bearing the shahada (Islamic testimony of faith holding that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger) and the seal of the Prophet Muhammad with the phrase “muhammad rasul Allah” (“Muhammad messenger of God”) at its center. 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. 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 main caption reads: “fursan ghazwat al-balagh” (cavalry of the “balagh” [spread of the message] raid). At the bottom in fine print appears the name of the JAA’s media wing “mu’assasat al-janna lil-intaj al-`lami” (Janna media production foundation) and its address www.janah.ps. In the bottom left corner we can see its logo, the word “Janna” [Paradise].