Over the past few months, online jihadis have been posting daily on Twitter pictures of "martyrs" killed on jihadi fronts in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. These "martyrs" include prominent sheikhs, well-known writers on online jihadi forums, and ordinary fighters, from many different terrorist/jihadi organizations; they came from Middle East countries as well as from other countries, including some in the West.
These martyrdom tweets serve multiple purposes: publicizing the martyrs' last wishes, celebrating their actions, informing the martyrs' family and friends of their deaths, and especially inspiring others by portraying the martyrs as heroes who should be emulated.
The following is a sampling of martyrdom tweets, most from February 2013.
Warning – this report contains graphic images.
Tweets Announcing The Martyrdom Of Senior Al-Qaeda Leader Sheikh Khalid ibn 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Husseinan
On January 30, 2013, "Comprehensive Military Library," a jihadi Twitter account which uses the handle @mktbh_askreih, posted pictures of the body of Sheikh Khalid ibn 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Husseinan, a senior Al-Qaeda figure who was reportedly killed in a drone attack in Waziristan in early December 2012. The pictures, which have been circulated widely on Twitter, confirmed the death of the Kuwaiti preacher, whose lengthy lectures were produced by Al-Qaeda media wing Al-Sahab. According to the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan, radical Salafi Sheikh Jaber Al-Jalahmah was the first to report Al-Husseinan's death in a Tweet posted on his account (@jaberALjalahmah) on December 7, 2012.
Hundreds of other jihadis tweeted the pictures. For example, @mktbh_askreih wrote, "Allah accept Khalid ibn 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Husseinan as a martyr and grant him 'Al-Firdaws Al-A'la' (paradise)."
32 Non-Syrians Who Were Martyred In Syria
On February 13, 2013, @FaresKm444 tweeted a large list of Muhajireen (meaning non-Syrians who were martyred in Syria), writing, "We ask Allah to accept them."
"Why Does The Martyr Smile When He Dies?"
On January 14, 2013, @lashkegah tweeted: "Why does the martyr smile when he dies? Doesn't he feel the agony of death? Or has he seen his place in paradise? O Allah, do not spare us from it [i.e. paradise]."
Martyr Zaid Al-Bawardi Abu Osama Al-Tamimi – Two Months After Martyrdom His Wounds Are Still Bleeding
On February 8, @Badry353 wrote: "The martyr, whom we believe to be Zayd Al-Bawaridi 'Abu Osama Al-Tamimi' got martyred as we believe in the Battle of Yaacoubia in the reef of Idlib on January 24, 1434 [of the Islamic calendar]. The picture is from two months after his martyrdom. May Allah accept him. His wound doesn't stop flowing blood."
Saudi Martyr Abdulaziz Alsuwaid: He Dropped Out Of College To Join Jihad
On December 31, 2012, @ImaQh tweeted information about another martyred Saudi in Syria.
Tweets Announcing The Martyrdom Of Two Popular Saudi Sheikhs
Reports of the death of two popular Saudi Sheikhs resonated through pro-jihadi and Syrian opposition social media accounts in early December 2012. In hundreds of tweets their "martyrdom" was praised. See tweets bearing the hashtag: #الشهيد_عبدالله_الحسين and #عبدالعزيز_الجغيمان (Abdallah Al-Hussein and Abd Al-Aziz Al-Jaghiman)
"[Words addressed to clerics or to rulers]: Whether you opened the gates of jihad or you didn't, the men and the heroes of Saudi Arabia leapt to jihad in the land of Syria. Allah will bring back to life our heroic people Abdalaziz al-Jaghiman and Abdallah Al-Hussein."
"May God have mercy on him and accept him as a martyr, god willing"
"Is this Mr. Abdallah Abd al-Latif al-Hussein?!! Where was he martyred?!!
"Yes…in Syria, ask God to accept him as a martyr."
"We bring to you the happy news of the wedding [martyrdom] of the martyr al-Sheikh Abdallah Al-Hussein from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He was martyred a few hours ago in Allepo of the martyrs"- Liwa Al-Ummah
Abd Al-Aziz Al-Jaghiman
"He is from Al-Ahsaa province (or district). He was martyred today for the fortune of Syria, as he was fasting. See his smile as they put him in the grave."
Martyrdom Poster for Al-Jughaiman
Australian Free Syrian Army (FSA) Fighter Martyred in Syria
In a video posted on YouTube, the Al-Farouq Brigades of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) announces the death of an Australian fighter who is identified only by his nom de guerre, Abu Al-Walid Al-Australi. The video, which was posted December 30, 2012, on the YouTube channel of one of the Brigades' units, states that Abu Al-Walid was killed on that day by a sniper in the course of a battle to capture the Wadi Al-Deif military base in northwest Syria. It says further that Abu Al-Walid had left his family and his job in Australia in order to wage jihad in Syria, and praised him for always being on the front line in battle. After his death jihadis tweeted about his martyrdom. User @ahlamR2I tweeted: "Yusuf (Abu Walid) has been martyred in Syria may Allah grant him highest rank of Jannah #jihad"
The Martyrdom Of Sheikh Ismail Muhammad Al-'Aloush
On December 30, 2012 @Abu_Rawaa7h tweeted:
Image: "The martyred mujahid Sheikh Ismail Al-'Aloush Al-Athari Al-Furati…"
Bottom: "The martyrdom of Sheikh Ismail Muhammad Al-'Aloush"
The Martyr Shamel bin Nosal Khan bin 'Abdallah Al-Sheikhlawi
On January 5, 2013, @CaucasusAffairs tweeted: "The latest martyr Shamel bin Nosal Khan bin 'Abdallah Al-Sheikhlawi – May Allah have mercy on him. He was martyred on Sunday before noon, Rabi' Al-Akher, 1433, and was buried with Abu Hamza."
The Martyrdom Of Our Heroic Mujahid Brother Muhammad Ghassan Kilan
@omarz7 tweeted [caption under image] "The Iraqi Spring #Syria #Immediate #Iraqi revolution. We inform Muslims in general, and to our family in Al-A'zamiyah in particular, the news about the martyrdom of our heroic mujahid brother, the son of Al-A'zamiyah, the pious heroic hero, Muhammad Ghassan Kilan who was martyred in the battle of Al-Yarmook Camp [fighting along] with the heroes of the FSA in defending Syria from the shabiha [thugs] and Safavids [meaning the Iranians]. Muhammad Kilan rose to defend Syria during the first days of the Syrian revolution. It's our promise not to forget you O Muhammad Kilan, O you are our brother and beloved one. Truly, your departure is difficult for us O Muhammad, and we will not forget you, O cub of Al-A'zamiya."
Al-Zarqawi's Aid Martyred In Syria
On January 16, 2013, @omarz7, tweeted an announcement that the former aid of Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, Abu Ja'far Al-Maqdisi, was martyred in Syria.
Martyrdom Of Mufti Of Jabhat Al-Nusra, Abu Omar Al-Faruq
On January 24, 2013, @omarz7, tweeted: "Abu Omar al-Faruq, Mufti of Jabhat al-Nusra, says: I am well, whether alive or dead. The noble knight has already mounted the horse which is first to battle."
"Jabhat Al-Nusrah Announces The Martyrdom Of The Hero Mujahid Abu Nour Al-Din"
On February 15, 2013, @FaresKm444 tweeted: "Jabhat Al-Nusrah announces the martyrdom of the hero Mujahid Abu Nour Al-Din from the village of Ghareebah suburb of Deerzour. May Allah accept him."
Martyrdom Of Abu Hasan Al-Tunis' ('Ilyas) From Jabhat Al-Nusra
On February 1, 2013, @ABOHORAIRAH, announced the martyrdom of Abu Hasan Al-Tunis ('Ilyas).
Al-Nusrah-Front Announces the Martyrdom of Brothers From Tunisia
On February 17, 2013, @abo_talha5 tweeted, "#the_Saryan-revolution #Al-Nusrah-Front We announce the martyrdom of the brothers Abdallah Al-Kamel and Tareq Aseeli Al-Raqqab [from] Buzaid State, Tunisia."
Tweets Announcing The Martyrdom Of Falah Uwaid Al-Anzy, AKA Abu Bakr The Saudi
On February 9, 2013, @albaraibnmalik1 tweeted about Falah Owaid Al-Enzy aka Abu Bakr. "O Allah grant him what he sought. He is from Bilad Al-Haramain (Saudi Arabia)." Date 11-08-2012.
On February 7, 2013 - @azzwnccra tweeted that Falah Uwaid Al-Anzy was from Riyadh.
Martyr Abu Aisha Al-Kosovi (The Kosovar)
On February 7, 2013, @azzwnccra tweeted an exclusive picture of martyr Abu Aisha Al-Kosovi (the Kosovar), "after whom name the battle of the French hospital in Aleppo was named."
The Martyr Ibn Al-Sheikh Al-Libi
On February 14, 2013, @11Septe tweeted, "May Allah have mercy on you Ibn Al-Sheikh Al-Libi and place you with prophet Mohammad, Amen #Benghazi #Libyan #America."
Testimony Of Monotheism
On February 11, 2013, @lashkegah tweeted, "Testimony of monotheism, which the people of Syria have implemented practically."
The Martyr Mohammad Salem Al-Hanini Al-Harbi (Could Be His Name, Or Could Refer To Western Origins)
On February 10, 2013, @66Taliban tweeted, "The martyr, by Allah's permission, Mohammad Salem Al-Hanini Al-Harbi who was martyred in clashes in Lattakiya on the 7th of Ramadan."
The Martyr 'Ayedh Mutalq Al-'Otaibi Martyred In Aleppo
On February 10, 2012, @66Taliban tweeted, "The martyr by Allah's permission Ayed Mutalq Al-Otaibi who martyred in Aleppo going forward not backward."
Announcing Martyrdom Of Mujahid Abu Sa'ad Al-Libi In Syria
On February 10, 2013, @FaresKm444 tweeted, "We happily announce the martyrdom of Mujahid Abu Sa'ad Al-Libi in Syria. We ask Allah to accept him."
Announcing The Martyrdom Of Nabhan Al-Mustapha The Syrian
On February 8, 2013, @badry353 tweeted, "Martytr Nabhan Al-Mustapha. Al-Manarah Al-Baidaa's page for Ahl Al-Sham (the Syrian)."
Above his head: "The page of the lighting minaret of the people of Syria. The one who lit it is F. Sh."
"Congrats To Me, Congrats To Me… I Become A Martyr"
On February 12, 2013, @az2011az tweeted, "The caption is part of known jihadi nasheed about martyrdom: "Congrats to me, congrats to me…I became a martyr O my family, alive in paradise along with beautiful hoor [al-'Ayn]."
Announcing Martyrdom Of Mujahid Abdulla Bawazir From Yemen
On January 19, 2013, @Qurrah000, tweeted, "Martyr Mujahid Abdulla Bawazir, may Allah accept him, his face shines [even as] a martyr #Ansar al-Sharia #al-Qaeda #Yemen."
Teach Me How To Be A Martyr
On January 20, 2013, @ghareebDesigner tweeted, "Teach me how to be a Martyr?? This [the pic below] is a design to an [Islamic] song which made me fly away as if I was looking for myself. Pray for me if you like it."
The Martyr Muhi' Al-Din Al-As'ad
On February 13, 2013, @al_khansaa2 tweeted a picture of "the smile of a martyr in the blessed land of Al-Sham [Syria]."
"Alienation [From Living Away From One's Homeland], Jihad, Patience, Then…"
On January 28, 2013, @lashkegah tweeted: "Alienation [from living away from one's homeland], jihad, patience, then…"
"Good For You O Martyr, And For The One Who Prepared You"
On February 19, 2013, @7_m_l_t tweeted: "Good for you O martyr, and for the one who prepared you. As the prophet Mohammad said, whoever [helped] in preparing an invader it is as if he/she performed the act of invasion."
"The Hero Rashid Al-Falaj, Let Allah Accept Him"
On January 27, 2013, @mayaltalg tweeted: "Yesterday he was supporting the prisoners in the Peninsula, then he became alarmed and waged jihad, and fought until he left this world, and departed. The hero Rashid Al-Falaj, let Allah accept him."
Assorted Martyrs – No Captions
February 10, 2013 - @badry353
February 8, 2013 - @badry353
*Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of the Middle East Media Research Institute