Know Thy Enemy

Posted by sepoy on June 03, 2006 · 3 mins read

The moon is a very important and complex symbol in Islamic culture.

The horse is a very important symbol in both Arabic and Islamic culture.

There is perhaps no landscape in Islamic culture and tradition more evocative and recognizable than the desert.

Palm trees, particularly date palms, are inextricably linked to Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Islamic culture.

The lion is an important symbol in Islamic culture.

The camel has particular importance to Arab culture.

The horse is a very important symbol in both Arabic and Islamic culture.

The Falcon is an important symbol in Islamic culture.

Women hold powerful symbolic value in Islamic culture.

There is a lot of symbology surrounding hand gestures in Islamic culture.

The element of blood is highly symbolic in Islamic culture.

The crescent moon is an important symbol of Islamic identity.

Weapons are symbolically important in Islamic culture.

Martyrs are a source of inspiration in Islamic culture.

The color black is a very significant color in the Islamic tradition.

The element of blood is highly symbolic in Islamic culture.

All this and more from the highly acclaimed West Point series, The Islamic Imagery Project Visual Motifs in Jihadi Internet Propaganda a project which proudly proclaims that "each entry is grounded in a deep reading of Islamic history, culture, language and experience" and that "there is a certain timelessness to these motifs, which reflects the authors's desire to portray their extreme interpretation of Salafi thought as a logical refinement of traditional Islamic thought."

But wait. You ready for the punch line?

"To die for one's faith is the most spiritual act in the Islamic tradition."

Well. There you have it.

Oh. Who, you ask, should we thank for this brilliant analysis? This rendering of the veil? This violation of the inner sanctum of the harem? Why, it is Afshon Ostovar who "wrote the analyses of the individual motifs" and who describes himself thusly: Imagine a room full of women. Nubile, blonde, wet with desire, Schwartz. A harem, if you will. Me in leather. A harness, if you like. I am the object of this desire, and all eyes are on me as I speak. Ladies, I begin. I am the love god, Eros. I intoxicate you. My spunk is to you manna from heaven... [yes, I know ]

And they say that the experts in "Islamic culture" are not helping in the War on Terror.

[this entry is for pdcs.]


babu | June 03, 2006

to paraphrase david from spinal tap: "well, i'm sure i'd feel worse if i wasn't under such heavy sedation..." thanks beer. hoo-RAAAAAY, beer!!

Land of Lime knowing something, anything | June 03, 2006

[...] Read Sepoy’s know thy enemy, for a list of brilliant insights Middle East experts at West Point have to offer. Since my comment provoked this entry, I shall also claim authorship and have all of you read it. [...]

Sin | June 03, 2006

WTF? Is this iconography and symbolism for the functionally mentally retarded? I'm so underwhelmed right now that Paris Hilton's conversation seems like intellectual stimulation.

Subah | June 03, 2006

I think it is time to pull off a Mustafa Said on our imperial masters. Tayeb Salih's novel Season of Migration to the North has some wonderful lessons on undoing Orientalism.

thabet | June 04, 2006

Damn. I can't bring my falcon-headed horse-camel toy thingy next time I visit the States.

towards God is our journey | June 04, 2006

Falcons and horses are evil. And so are moons... Sepoy points us to a new weapon in The War on Terror: The Islamic Imagery Project being run out the presitgious United States Military Academy at West Point, which aims to provide analyses for one-hundred key motifs that appear throughout...

chanad | June 04, 2006

so how do you think they carried out the research for the study? did they distribute survey questions to detainees in guantanamo bay or something. im imagining soldiers questioning a prisoners about the difference between the meaning of a white rose and red one.

elizabeth | June 04, 2006

i wonder if this is in any way connected to the geniuses who brought us the iraq culture smart cards that caused much gnashing of teeth among my classmates last year.

sepoy | June 04, 2006

"Don't back away from an Iraqi during conversation." priceless.

elizabeth | June 04, 2006

i am told there are some amusing infelicities in the arabic phrase guide, too, though i can't verify. also, gotta love that little social structure diagram, and the who-hates-whom guide to 'cultural groups.' the sad thing is, this is actually one of the higher points of 'sensitivity training' WRT to Iraq, from what I hear.

Andrew Reeves | June 05, 2006

In fairness, if you're trying to give a quick introduction to a culture, you are necessarily going to paint in broad strokes. After all, in a first-year Middle Eastern Studies introduction to Islam you're probably going to be a bit more general than if you're teaching a course on, say, occasionalism in Al-Ghazali.

sepoy | June 05, 2006

This is a specific study of Jihadist imagery. Pretty focused, if you ask me.

Andrew Reeves | June 05, 2006

Okay, point taken.

Wonko | September 27, 2007

Wow, what a trenchant critique! Your taken-out-of-context, cut-and-paste hatchet job bespeaks a very high standard of fair-mindedness on your part, and your ad hominem demonstration that Ostovar has a sense of humor by quoting from his MySpace page is certainly the more devastating half of your two-pronged attack. Puh-leez.

Wonko is Bonko | April 06, 2009

Apparently Wonko is Ostovar in disguise, or one of his acolytes. Wonko speaks of it as if the project is WAR AND PEACE, when it's more like a mediocre cliff notes...So, Wonko, "puh-leez" yourself.