Center for Strategic Communication

[ by Charles Cameron — possibility of Mahdist belief or sympathies on the part of one of the Boston bombers surfaces, with some details of the relevant video ]



Having said that, here’s the explicitly Mahdist video that Tamerlan Tsarnaev liked on FaceBook — one of two “end times” videos as it happens, and worth viewing in context with the other.

The theme here of the black banners of Khorasan is one I have been writing about for years now, as the editors at NRO kindly noted yesterday.


I’m not alone in noticing this video [1, 2, 3], but I may have more interest in it than many others, because I believe Mahdism — and “end times” excitement in general — is a volatile conceptual additive and should be handled with considerable caution.

In particular, I would note that the “black banners of Khorasan” ahadith, cited in the video, have been widely used in AQ recruitment as reported by ex-FBI agent Ali Soufan and Syed Saleem Shahzad in their respective books [1, 2], although the ahadith are of probable Abbasid origin as suggested by David Cook [Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature, Chapter 8, Apocalyptic Predictions concerning Afghanistan and the Taliban, pp. 172 ff.] — and indeed, I’d recently asked the tweeting American mujahid Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki (Omar Hammami):

to which he’d responded:

[ I started to tweet occasional theological questions to Abu M after he instructed his followers to read Zenpundit, here and more emphatically here — I believe the post he was specifically referring to was this one ]



This account of the Mahdist video would make a long post, and if you can watch the video and make out most of what it is saying in the title cards (intertitles) that form, along with the occasional voice over, the through-line of the movie, you won’t need most of the rest — I’m mostly going to offer transcriptions of those portions that aren’t too fuzzy for me to read.

Three things you might find worth noting, however, are:

  • the quotes from Imran Nazar Hosein, whom I’ve discussed before eg: 1, 2, 3, 4], starting in this section
  • the section on the supposedly Jewish origins of the Afghan people [which I discussed in some detail here], in part 2 of this post, and
  • the short clip from Mel Gibson‘s The Passion of the Christ which has been slipped into the video with dramatic effect, in part 3.
  • **

    For those of you who feel like following along — and there’s plenty of detail of interest — I’ve broken the thing into parts, and my account of the video begins here…

    After the Bismillah:

    … followed by a card proclaiming it to be the work of T.R.U.E.E. Productions [00.07], the video begins with the “black banner” itself [00.21], in this form:

    This serves as the opening title of the video, which is presented on YouTube and a minute into the video with the title “The Emergence of Prophecy: The Black Flags From Khorasan“. The banner fades slightly to show present-day horsemen, presumably from Afghanistan:

    There are others — I’m thinking of Chris Anzalone and Aaron Zelin — who could tell you the origins of the various video clips and anasheed that are used throughout the video, but I’ll confine myself to the text cards and voice overs.

    Over the last of the horsemen, the voice of Imran Nazar Hosein speaks [00.46]:

    The prophet said, “When you see the black flags coming from the direction of Khorasan, go and join that army.” That army has already started its [march). They know it. And that’s why they demonize as a terrorist anyone, anyone who supports that army. They know it. And that’s why they demonize as a terrorist anyone, anyone who supports that army.

    That’s the end of the Intro, after which the title in English appears [01.16]:

    For a bit of flash and excitement, there’s a count-down [01.23 – 01.32] — we’re approaching zero hour, I’m guessing — and the first major text card shows up [01.38]. It is the first of several “notes”:

    The caution exhibited here is interesting — someone doesn’t want to be caught out in an error by theologically more sophisticated viewers, hence the admission that some scholars view the black banners of Khorasan ahadith as weak… and the always welcome admission:

    Allah knows best.

    At [01.56] a hadith is introduced over black and white visuals of war by night:

    I’ve magnified this one a little for easier reading [02.09]:

    The citation in red is hard to make out, but I believe it references “Sunan Ibn Majah Hadith 971 Volume 3″.

    The statement, “their weapon will be the weapon of Emaan (Faith)” is of interest, compare in the New Testament Ephesians 6.13-17 —

    Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

    as is the reference to the conquest of Constantinople “without materialistic weapons”. But all that’s fodder for another post on another day.

    At [02.36] we get:

    The text in red here — compare with the use of white and red print against a black background in the screen-grab by JM Berger from an As-Sahab Media video at the top of this post — reads fairly clearly:

    Saheeh Muslim Book Hadith 2896, page 1904, volume 3

    There’s a brief flash of the world map, then this map with its central text in small print and the word EAST quite large by comparison [02.54]:

    That central text reads:

    Arabian Penninsula
    (Where the Prophet Muhammad received his Revelation)

    Next coes another hadith [02.59]:

    Here the only reference is “Musnad Ahmad”.

    Then two maps identifying Khorasan [03.04 and 03.07]:

    So that’s the set-up.

    Things get pretty intriguing around here, as a question is posed as to the race or races of those who will follow the black banners, and the comments on Afghanistan and the Lost Tribes of Israel begin…


    I’ll take a break here, and continue in Part II.