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.

Image from Facebook account of the Coalition of Intifada Youth to Liberate Palestine
The image makes use of classic Nazi propaganda elements with a picture of Hitler on the right, and the Nazi...
Read More
Cover of al-Sahab Video Release
The image contains pictures of influential al-Qa‘ida figures and key leaders, including Usama bin Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri, Abu Yahya al-Libi,...
Read More
“Wanted” Poster for Yasir al-Habib
The image is a wanted poster distributed by the Islamic State of Iraq. The text in the image reads (from...
Read More
Hanein Site Banner Commemorating UBL
The image was added as a top banner on the Hanein site. The caption reads: “shabakat hunayn tan‘i ila al-umma...
Read More
Image Mocking Yasir al-Habib
The image is a picture of the Shi‘a leader Yasir al-Habib, also known as Khasir al-Khabith in radical Sunni circles....
Read More
Image for al-Fallujah Forum
The image, which was posted to a web forum, contains the bloody caption: “al-Irhab-ana muslim…ana irhabi” (“terrorism-I am a Muslim…I...
Read More
Fath al-Islam Logo
The image appears at the end of a statement posted by Fath al-Islam regarding the death of Usama bin Ladin....
Read More
Image Commemorating Mullah Dad Allah
This specific image is intended to commemorate a senior Taliban military commander, Mullah Dad Allah (also known as Dadullah), and...
Read More

Stay Informed

Sign up to receive updates from CTC.

Sign up