The caption reads: “min filastin al-abiyya kull al-tahiyya ila usud dawlat al-‘iraq al-islamiyya” (“from proud Palestine best wishes to the lions of the Islamic State of Iraq”). The image contains several familiar jihadi visual motifs, including the black banner bearing the text of the shahada (Islamic testimony of faith holding that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger), the holy shrine of the Dome of the Rock, an armed and masked fighter holding up an RPG and a copy of the Qur’an. All intend to evoke inspiration for jihadi activism and to emphasize the religious dimension of the jihadi struggle.
According to prophetic tradition (hadith), 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 with the shahada is used to evoke notions of jihad and of reestablishing the Islamic Caliphate.
Finally, while reverence for the Dome of the Rock is shared by all Muslims across sectarian lines, it holds special significance for Palestinian groups (symbolizing Palestinian statehood). The Dome of the Rock was built in 692 A.D. by the Umayyid caliph ‘Abd al-Malik on the site where Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven in his mi‘raj (night journey), and it is considered the third holiest site in Islam after Mecca and al-Madina.
Similarly, the watermark logo of Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s Jama‘at al-Tawhid wal-Jihad (JTJ) serves as a visual reminder of the connection between the Islamic State of Iraq, al-Qa’ida and JTJ in Palestine (and its leader, Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi).