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A disturbing new social-media trend has come to light in the Middle East in which friends and family celebrate the deaths of jihadists by posting photos of their corpses on Twitter.
The celebrants note that in some cases, the “martyrs” killed in “holy wars” in Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere seem to be smiling.
The report comes from the Middle East Media Research Institute, which has compiled the gruesome posts and photos from January and February to bring attention to the new trend.
Among the “martyrs” are prominent Muslim sheiks, writers on online jihadi forums and ordinary Muslim men who died carrying out jihad.
The language of the tweets is particularly disturbing. Rather than conveying a sense of tragedy and loss over the deaths, the tweets are more inspirational, portraying the deceased as heroes. Most include a plea to Allah to “accept” the “martyrs” into paradise.
Twitter user @omarz7 tweeted under an 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.”
Many of the tweets also serve as a means of informing the families of their lost loved ones.
The Islamic term “jihad” is translated as “struggle.” Muslim scholars speak of a “greater jihad,” an internal, spiritual struggle, and a “lesser jihad,” or outward struggle widely interpreted as holy war.
A sampling of the tweets shows the pleas to Allah to accept the dead, and several mention the smiles the “martyrs” appear to be displaying in death.
On Jan. 19, @Qurrah000, tweeted, “Martyr Mujahid Abdulla Bawazir, may Allah accept him, his face shines [even as] a martyr #Ansar al-Sharia #al-Qaeda #Yemen.”
As reported by the Middle East Research Institute, the Comprehensive Military Library, a jihadi twitter account which uses the handle @mktbh_askreih, posted pictures of the body of Sheik Khalid ibn ‘Abd Al-Rahman Al-Husseinan, a senior al-Qaida figure who was killed in a drone attack in early December 2012.
“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
“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.”
“[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.”
The report compiled by Steven Stalinsky, the organization’s executive director, even has before-and-after images, showing the jihadist alive and dead.
One announcement said: “Congrats to me, congrats to me … I became a martyr O my family, alive in paradise along with the beautiful hoor [al-‘Ayn].”