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 Commemorating Faris ‘Ahid
In the image, Fatah’s operative Faris ‘Ahid, who was killed on 22 August 2001, is being celebrated for his piety,...
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JAMI Logo and Sunset
The image features the logo of the Islamic Front for the Iraqi Resistance (al-Jabha el-Islamiya lil-Moqawama al-Iraqiya, or JAMI), positioned...
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Image Commemorating Yahya ‘Ayyash
The man in the image is Yahya ‘Ayyash, one of the main operational leaders of Hamas during the early-to-mid 1990s,...
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Old AQIM Logo
The image is an old official logo of al-Qa’ida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) and includes several elements common in...
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