Faylaq al-Sham (Sham Legion) soldiers relaxing
Regular readers of this Tumblr will be familiar by now with the typical scenes from life inside jihadi groups like Islamic State. Recently I started compiling pictures from inside the Saudi military deployed in Yemen for the sake of comparison. I knew there would be many similarities, but I didn’t realise quite how similar the scenes would be. Frankly, if you swap the green Saudi flags for black ones, there is virtually no difference in the iconography and practices displayed in these pictures compared to the jihadi ones. The only slight difference I can spot, aside from the clothing and the hardware, is that the Saudi soldiers are using different hand gestures; they give thumbs up and V-signs where jihadis would point their index finger up. It’s worth noting that the Saudi government, when tweeting these pictures, refers to these soldiers as murabitun (frontier guards), just like the jihadis. This goes to show that many aspects of jihadi culture are not innovations, but traditional or mainstream practices in parts of the Muslim world.
IS flag production
Black flags in Yemen, Somalia, and Tunisia