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.
In October 2003, al-Sahab released a last will and testament video of the suicide bombers Abu Umar al-Ta’ifi (also known as Hazim b. Muhammad al-Kashmiri), Muhammad bin Shazzaf al-Shahri (also known as Abu Tariq al-Aswad) and Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab al-Maqit, who were involved in the attacks on living compounds in Riyadh on 12 May 2003. The cover also includes an iconic image of Abd al-`Aziz al-Mugrin, previous leader of AQAP.
The video was recorded two weeks before the bombings and is centered around the appearance of Usama bin Ladin and the testaments of those who took part in the attack. The top caption in this image is the title of the video, “badr al-riyad,” which refers to the historical battle of Badr 624 A.D. between the Prophet’s community of Muslims and elements of the Meccan tribe of Quraysh. The image also contains two religious texts. On the right appears a quote from the Qur’an (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”). On the left is a quote from a hadith (prophetic tradition): “qala rasul Allah, salla Allah ‘alayhi wa-sallam, akhriju al-mushrikin min jazirat al-‘arab” (“the messenger of God said, may God’s prayer and peace be upon him, expel the polytheists from the Arabian peninsula”).
The militant mood of the image is heightened by the appearance of the armed al-Qa’ida fighters who carried out the Riyad bombings. In the background is a faint image of a map of the Arabian Peninsula, which underscores the importance of the area as a theater of jihad and evokes an urgency to join the struggle.