The image seems to be a combination of older elements, like the picture of Usama bin Ladin, which has been circulating in the media for years. Also familiar is the combination of Bin Ladin’s face and the face of a lion. The connection is expected, since “Usama” means “lion” in Arabic, and the lion is an important motif in Islamic art and culture that evokes qualities of bravery, strength and valor for Muslim audiences. It should also be noted that the lion motif recurs in various Islamic sources, including the Qur’an, hadith (prophetic traditions) and classical Arabic poetry.  In the modern era, the lion symbol has been employed by influential authors like Sayyid Qutb, and it has become a key motif in jihadist propaganda.

The image appeared on a website post underneath the caption (not seen here): لله درك وعلى الله أجرك تقبلك الله في الشهداء, which is comprised of two traditional phrases that are uttered in the context of someone’s death. The caption in the image contains an excerpt from a poem and reads: “a‘idu kitabat kull al-ma‘ajim, fa-inna al-rujula ta‘ni usama” (“rewrite all the dictionaries, for the term ‘rujula’ [masculinity and heroism] means ‘usama’”).

More Information
Group Name AQC
Group Type Jihadist Group
Dominant Colors Blue
Secondary Colors White
Language Arabic
Isolated Phrases / Mottoes / Slogans A`idu kitabat kull al-ma`ajim, fa-inna al-rujula ta`ni usama
Image Number 0369
Groups Region of Operation Global
Body Parts Face / Bust
Air Clouds / Fog, Sky
Fire Burning Object
Geopolitical Symbols Slogan
People Group Leader / Influential figure, Operative / Warrior (=mujahid), Man / Men
People Analysis Usama b. Ladin (AQC)
Fauna Lion
Visual Themes The white clouds in the image evoke Allah’s total inscrutability prior to creation. Furthermore, as the bearer of rain, clouds are considered a symbol of khayr (bounty/good), which is a synonym for rain, and a sign of good things to come. As such, the choice of al-Sahab as the name for al-Qa’ida’s media production outfit is perfect because it is a metaphor for the rain-bearing cloud and therefore a source of good tidings. What this name underscores, too, is the Arabian/Arab dominance of the movement.

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