Militant Imagery Project

The use of propaganda and imagery by terrorist groups has long been an understudied dimension of the broader field of political violence. This project explores the use of imagery and visual themes by militant groups, focusing largely on jihadist media production. Jihadist organizations and individuals inspired by their message are prolific producers and distributors of visual propaganda, and their efforts have expanded exponentially online. However, these images frequently utilize themes which can be inscrutable to those not familiar with the sub-culture. It is our hope that this project will provide academics, practitioners, and students with a basic contextual understanding of the ideas these images convey before they turn to the larger questions of why they are employed, how they work, and what responses they may elicit.

The First Edition of this project was completed in 2006. The second phase (2010-2013) included indexing the project’s initial images, expanding and incorporating new images, and putting all of the images online in a searchable format. Particular attention was given to groups who use images to further financial, material, and ideological support for violence. The imagery dataset provides not just a textual analysis, but also full translation, if texts are part of the image, and a search engine for those interested in specific visual motifs. While by no means an exhaustive list, we feel it provides a sample of the most influential and prominent images and themes. We hope it will serve as a useful tool for practitioners, academics and the general public. Contingent upon funding and interest, we hope to update the dataset to highlight visual themes of additional militant groups in the future.

Al-Jahafil Forum Logo
The image is the al-Jahafil forum logo. It consists of a globe or sphere with a brown African continent at...
Read More
Image Urging “Boycott Israel”
The dominant element in the image is the clenched fist breaking through a light blue and white Star of David....
Read More
Sham News Agency Logo
The caption in the image reads: “samidun wa-lan narka‘illa li-lah” (“we stand firm/persevere, we will never bow to anyone but...
Read More
Image Commemorating Abu al-Hayja’ al-Ansari
Most images contains the name or logo of the designer, here it is Abu al-Hayja’ al-Ansari, whose nisba (nickname) indicates...
Read More
Horse & Rider Image from Webforum
According to prophetic tradition (hadith), the black flag was the battle flag of the Prophet Muhammad and it was carried...
Read More
Flag & Nashid Excerpt
The black banner with the takbir phrase (the words “Allahu Akbar” or “God is great”) is a recognizable part of...
Read More
Syrian Map with UBL Quote
This image was posted on a Salafi web forum by a user who appears to be trying to “hijack” the...
Read More
Abu Hisham al-Maqdisi Logo & ISI Banner
At the top left corner, the logo of the image’s designer (Abu Hisham al-Maqdisi) appears: an open Qur’an in front...
Read More

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive updates from CTC.

Sign up