July 1, 2013 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 990

Faces Of Death - Part II: On Twitter, Jihadis Disseminate Death Photos Of Martyrs - Noting Their Beatific Smiles, Scent Of Musk Emanating From Their Bodies, And The Virgins Awaiting Them In Paradise; Other Popular Tweets Include Death Photo Of Boston Bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Photo Of Basket Of Sweets Celebrating Martyr; Hashtags Created For Notable Martyrs

July 1, 2013 | By Steven Stalinsky and R. Sosnow*
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 990


Over the past few months, online jihadis have been using Twitter on a daily basis to disseminate photos of martyrs killed on jihadi fronts in Syria. These martyrs are from around the world – Italy, Spain, Belgium, Albania, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Morocco, Jordan, Libya, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Dagestan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Bahrain, and Algeria – and among them are prominent sheikhs, well-known writers on online jihadi forums, scientists, students, and others, from many different terrorist/jihadi organizations (see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 939, Faces Of Death: On Twitter, Jihadis Distribute Photos Of 'Martyrs', February 22, 2013).

These martyrdom tweets serve multiple purposes: publicizing the martyrs' last wishes, celebrating their actions, informing the martyrs' family and friends of their deaths, and inspiring others by portraying the martyrs as heroes who should be emulated. Yet another purpose is to ask readers for information about unidentified martyred jihadis.

One notable martyr whose death photo has been widely disseminated is Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev. For example, on April 20, 2013, @albaraibnmalik1 tweeted: "Boston bomber 'Tamerlan Tsarnayev,' you have the peace of God, and I saw the great freedom does not have an age." He uses the hashtags #Boston, #America, and #bombing (warning – graphic image).

These martyrdom photos are very frequently retweeted. In addition, some Twitter accounts are major disseminators of images of dead martyrs. These include: @FaresKm44, identified as belonging to one "Fares Shami," and described as "a field activist and a journalist for the Mujahideen in Syria"; @albaraibnmalik1, identified as belonging to "Abu Al-Baraa Al-Ahsa'i" and described as of "the martyr sheikh Abu Abdelmalik Al-Ahsa'i"; and @KAIKawthar, identified as belonging to "Kateeba Al-Kawthar" and described as "a group of Mujahideen & nation builders." Tweets from these accounts are included in this report.

It is interesting to note that in one tweet, @albaraibnmalik1 stated, "Praise to you, people of Libya" because, he claims, that country has sent the most mujahideen who have died as martyrs.

Additionally, hashtags are created to honor specific "martyrs," and are widely used when disseminating videos of the individual in life and in death, his last will and testament, and thoughts and prayers from family and friends. Samples of tweets from the #Martyrdom_Abdallah_Ibrahim_Al-Dakheel and #Martyrdom_Ali_Bin_Sa'di_Al-Samali_Al_Subai'i hashtags are included in this report.

Over the past month, since MEMRI finished compiling the tweets included in this report, the number of martyr tweets has increased exponentially; when MEMRI first began focusing on the phenomenon, only a few Twitter accounts were sending them out, and not in great numbers. This is indicative of jihadis' increasing embrace of and dependence on Twitter.

This report presents a sampling of martyrdom tweets posted and martyrdom hashtags created since the February publication of Part I of this series (warning – graphic images).

The following are some notable tweets from this report:

A Basket Of Sweets Celebrating Martyrdom Of Saudi National

"#Talha-Al-Nada – By the name of Allah, if birds could carry us, we would come to congratulate you. I miss you. I congratulate you on your acceptance as an intercessor. #Syria Abu Asid Martyrdom of Abdallah Ibrahim Al-Dakhil."

Tweeted by @aa797 on March 7, 2013;

"The Scent Of Musk Emanated From His Pure Body... Women Trilled Loudly"

"The scent of musk emanated from his pure body, and it was smelled by the mujahideen. Women trilled loudly after they smelled the musk emanating from his body..."

Tweeted by @albaraibnmalik1 on April 28, 2013;

This Martyr Never Wed – Because He Was Hastening To Meet The Virgins

"He refrained from marriage because he was hastening to meet the virgins under the shadows and the trees. As he died, he will be honored with the company of the Prophet Muhammad’s companions and the love of the Prophet Muhammad."

Tweeted by @albaraibnmalik1on May 8, 2013, using hashtag #strangers;

Announcing Martyrdom Of Spanish National In Aleppo

"He came from Spain, leaving behind him a well-off and blissful life; Abu Adam the Moroccan was killed, may Allah have mercy on him, in one of the battles in Aleppo"

Tweeted by @albaraibnmalik1on April 22, 2013, using hashtag #Morocco:

Announcing Martyrdom of Italian Convert To Islam Giuliano Ibrahim Delnevo

"Giuliano Ibrahim, who is from Italy, converted to Islam in 2008 and was a good Muslim. After seeing the suffering of Muslims in Syria, he could no longer enjoy his life; therefore, he joined the mujahedin and was martyred."

Tweeted by @albaraibnmalik1 on June 18, 2013;

For more on Delnevo, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 989, The Making Of A Foreign Jihadi Convert Fighting in Syria: Giuliano Ibrahim Delnevo – Part I, June 28, 2013.

Smiling "When Meeting Their God"

"Those who are 'fooled' smile when meeting their god

"Oh Allah accept them and raise them up and join us with them, oh dear mighty one


Tweeted by @ALHmadani on May 7, 2013;

A Grinning Martyr

"Do you believe this picture of a martyr from among the martyrs of Syria?!! Oh God accept him.. we deem him and may God deem him (a martyr)."

Tweeted by @elnoor2011 on March 17, 2013;

A Deceased Martyr Smiling"

"A deceased martyr smiling… your glory oh God (oh God make the ending better) #martyr #Syria

"Oh God, your glory eclipses the land of Bashar"

Tweeted by @NaserAlhosinan on July 23, 2012;

* Steven Stalinsky is Executive Director of MEMRI; R. Sosnow is head editor at MEMRI.

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