Jihadi Culture: Gun Art from Islamic State’s (IS) ‘Wilayat Khurasan’

Individualized gun artwork produced by members of Islamic State’s (IS) self-proclaimed Wilayat Pakistan and Wilayat Khurasan, two regional “provinces” or branches of the militant organization:

Left:  “Soldiers of the ‘caliphate’” (jund al-khilafa)

Right:  “State of Islam” (Dawlat al-Islam)



“Battle of Karbala” (‘Abbas al-Musavi); Oil on canvas, Qajar period (late 19th-early 20th century) at the Brooklyn Museum

Professional website and academic blog of Christopher Anzalone, Ph.D.

I am Research Assistant Professor of Middle East Studies covering the Middle East and East Africa at the Krulak Center, Marine Corps University and an affiliate scholar at George Mason University’s Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies. Formerly I was both a postdoctoral and predoctoral research fellow with the International Security Program at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs from 2016-2019. My research areas include political Islam, political violence and terrorism, Shi’i Islam, and Islamic visual cultures and narratives of martyrdom and self-sacrifice. I completed a Ph.D. in Islamic, Middle Eastern, and African studies at McGill University, an M.A. in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from Indiana University, Bloomington, and a B.A. double major in history and religious studies from George Mason University. Methodologically my research is grounded in history and political sociology.

My first book project, Islamizing Rebel Governance: Jihadi Insurgencies and Symbolic Power, examines the symbolic, framing, and narrative dimensions of territorial proto-state governing projects of Islamist rebel groups including Al-Shabab in Somalia, Islamic State and its branches, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and the Afghan Taliban. This multidisciplinary project, drawing from history and political sociology, examines the strategies and experiences of Islamist insurgent organizations that have actively attempted to set up civil governing systems through which to interact with local civilian populations. It situates the study of Islamist insurgent groups with governance ambitions within the growing literature on rebel governance.

My research draws upon scores of thousands of primary sources – print texts, videos, radio broadcasts and audio recordings, posters and billboards, and photography – produced and released by non-state Islamist groups.

On this site I will post about my research on Islamic social movements and organizations, Shi’i Islam, political Islam (Islamism), and Islamic visual cultures with a specific focus on militant Islamist (jihadi) visual culture. One of the main goals of the site is to serve as a digital platform for the sharing and discussion of textual (print, visual, and aural) primary sources as key digital historical artifacts.

What’s in a Name?

The site’s name, which translates to “son of the Sicilian” (ابن الصقلي), is taken from my first blog (a Blogger project unfortunately now defunct due to Google) that I started as an undergraduate many years ago when I wrote anonymously under a pen name. My father’s family is of central Italian and Sicilian background, which is why I chose “Siqilli” as a pen name at the time.

Disclaimer: This should be clear but needs to be explicitly said: This is an academic website and blog for analysis and scholarly discussion. I do not endorse or in any way support violence or terrorism. In order to understand political violence and its use by a variety of states and non-state organizations, academics, government and other professional career practitioners, and the public must be able to analyze and publicly discuss it and related topics and issuesThe analysis and other views expressed here are mine alone.