The image contains the logo associated with Jama‘at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (JTJ or Society for Monotheism and Jihad), an organization initially led by Abu Mus‘ab al-Zarqawi, that became part of the al-Qa‘ida network in Iraq in 2004 under the official name Tanzim Qa‘idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn.
The image encompasses a variety of elements that are designed to evoke a host of notions from within the Islamic/jihadist symbolic framework. For instance, the sword in the image suggests a desire on the part of the designer to link the message to early Islamic history and the first generation of Muslims. Swords are seen as noble weapons that embody the religious purity, nobility and righteousness that is associated with the Prophet, his companions and their successful military campaigns. Thus, an image of a sword helps depict current jihadi activities as modern extensions of those campaigns and lends them an aura of legitimacy.
There is also a black banner with the testament of faith (shahada): “la ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasul Allah; ila man yakhafu al-jihad wa-yakhsah al-mawt shahidan” (“There is no god but Allah and Muhammad his messenger; to he who fears jihad and is scared of dying a shahid [martyr]”). This aims to emphasize the need to exemplify faith in both verbal declaration, as well as in deed, i.e., by carrying out jihad. According to hadith (prophetic traditions or reports), 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.
The images of mountains are also a common motif in jihadi visual propaganda. Here, the mountains are combined with the faces of central figures in the jihadi movement (Usama bin Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mullah ‘Umar), thereby alluding to regions with past or ongoing operations, such as Afghanistan.