The image depicts an acontextual map of Iraq and a black flag with the shahada – Islamic testimony of faith holding that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger – with a sword underneath. Without geopolitical context or neighboring countries or bodies of water, the map emphasizes the national context and scope of jihad in Iraq.
The appearance of the black banner hoisted in the center of the map stresses the notion of revolt against the Iraqi regime. According to hadith (prophetic tradition or report), the black flag was the battle flag of the Prophet Muhammad and it was carried into battle by many of his companions. The image of the black flag has been used as a symbol of religious revolt and engagement in battle (i.e., jihad). In the contemporary Islamist movement, the black flag is used to evoke notions of jihad and of reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate.