The image is an e-cover of the AQAP magazine Sada al-Malahim, issue 2, Rabi` al-Awwal 1429 A.H. [March/April 2008 C.E.]. In the top left appears the magazine’s name Sada al-Malahim ablaze and dripping blood. Under that and from right to left the caption reads: “yusdiruha tanzim al-qa`idat al-jihad fi janub jazirat al-`Arab” [“(Sada al-Malahim) published by Qa`idat al-Jihad (the jihad base) in the Southern Arabian Peninsula”]. The same caption appears in the AQAP logo in the top right corner – a globe with the Arabian Peninsula landmass, a black banner bearing the shahada (Islamic testimony of faith – There is no god but Allah and Muhammad His messenger) with the seal of the Prophet and two crossed Arabian swords.

The various captions in the bottom section of the cover are the names of the different articles that appear in the issue: “wa-tarajjal al-shaykh” [“and the shaykh alighted (got off his horse; referring to Abu al-Layth al-Libi and his death)”], “bayan nafy” (denial statement), “adwa’ `ala hisar ghaza” [light(s sic.) on the Gaza siege], “saradib ahl al-sunna” (“Sunnis’ underground bunkers/vaults”); “madrasat ysuf, `layahi al-salam” (“the Yusuf school of thought, peace be upon him”).

The yellow and red of the flames in the image invoke pain of separation, a longing to be united with God, that is, the longing for death and achievement of martyrdom. The fiery red of the dripping blood resonates passion, impulse and danger. It is fundamentally linked to the vital force, and to warlike qualities. The image of barbwire is often used in jihadi imagery, particularly in the context of the Palestinian jihad against the Israeli/Jewish enemy to signal the oppressive nature of the enemy; the urgency of the call to jihad in that arena and evidence for its legitimacy. Behind the caption “madrasat yusuf” in the bottom left appears a partial image of prison cell bars. This portrays the main subject of the article on jihadis’ prison experiences and ways to view it as a blessing from God (or simply avoiding it by obtaining martyrdom, see issue 2 (April 2008), p. 19).

More Information
Group Name Sada al-Malahim (AQAP)
Group Type Jihadist Group
Group Affiliation AQ Affiliates / Associates
Dominant Colors Blue, Yellow
Secondary Colors Red, Green, Black
Language Arabic
Isolated Phrases / Mottoes / Slogans 1) "wa-tarajjal al-shaykh" 2) "bayan nafy" 3) "adwa' `ala hisar ghaza" 4) "saradib ahl al-sunna" 5) "madrasat ysuf, `layahi al-salam"
Image Number 0354
Groups Region of Operation Middle East, Global
Groups Country of Operation Yemen
Weapons Cold Weapons and Defensive Armor, Barbwire/ Chain Link Fence
Body Parts Blood
Air Clouds / Fog, Sky
Liquid Drops / Tear
Geopolitical Symbols Symbol of party, movement or company, Slogan
Geopolitical Analysis AQAP logo - a globe with the AP landmass, a black banner bearing the shahada (Islamic credo) with the seal of the Prophet and two crossed Arabian swords.
People Horse Rider
Religious Textual References Other Medieval Text
Religious Textual References Analysis Traditional phrase "`alayhi al-salam" [peace be upon him], often used following the utterance of a prophet's name recognized by Islam.
Religious Symbols Black / White / Green Banners
Fauna Horse
Visual Themes The silhouette of a horse and rider in the image is common in jihadi visual propaganda. The importance of the horse in both pre-Islamic Arabia and Islamic culture is evidenced by pre-Islamic poetry, hadiths (prophetic traditions or reports) and other genres of literature ascribing horses with the positive qualities of chivalry and bravery in battle. For example, the beginning of the Qur’anic sura 100 talks about “running horses” that appear as galloping through the world toward the final goal, namely, Judgment Day. Horses are also symbolic of the first generation of Muslims and that generation’s successful military campaigns, and thus are often employed to evoke specific Salafi religious sentiments with regard to the military victories of Muhammad and his companions. The rider emphasizes the element of human agency in jihad, and is a way to enhance the traditional symbol of a horse and flesh out notions of aggression and the call to jihad. Overall, the horse and rider motif places current jihadi activities within the same unfolding dialectic as the jihad of early Islam.

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