Airport Shooter Esteban Santiago’s Photo Shows Him Making the ISIS One Finger Sign


IB Times reported in 2015 the meaning of the Muslim one-fingered gang sign.


In the last photo taken before he blew himself up in a dusty battlefield in northern Iraq, 17-year-old Briton Talha Asmal sat in the front seat of a car with a single finger on his right hand pointing skywards.

The salute has become common in Islamic State (Isis) propaganda, both from the battlefield and in the final minutes before a shaheed – or martyr – embarks on a suicide bombing. But what does now ubiquitous hand signal mean?

The single raised index finger has so far escaped analysis, likely due to the fact that those making the gesture have often had a severed head in their other hand, but refers to the first half of the shahada, the affirmation of Muslim faith that his recited before every prayer.

It is the passage that so defines the Muslim faith: “There is no god but Allah, and Muhammad is his Prophet.”

“The one” was actually a recognised gesture by Muslims long before IS and signified the tawhid, the belief in the oneness of God. It would traditionally be used during prayer or sermons.

“The shahada is the definitive Muslim doctrine. It is like the trinity for Christians. But it has been taken over by the Islamic State,” said Veryan Khan, editorial director at TRAC Terrorism, which monitors IS propaganda.

The salute was used early on in the days of IS and even by leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi during his first speech at Friday prayers after the takeover of Mosul.

It also has a solid jihadi pedigree, said Rita Katz, director of SITE Intelligence Group.

“The gesture has been used by jihadis for years, including high profile ones like Osama bin Laden. Within the jihadi context, the raised index finger takes on political meaning as well, widely rejecting any form of government not under Shariah law,” she said.

Since then, it is not only used by fighters and supporters of IS but by those celebrating weddings in IS-held areas.

Like the Nazi salute or the raised fist, the gesture has become an integral part of IS propaganda, particularly among the young. Videos from IS-held areas frequently show small children saluting with a single finger in unison while shouting IS propaganda.

“It so much reminds of the sieg heil [Nazi salute] when you see the little kids do it simultaneously,” said Khan.

A unity of gestures and symbols has become increasingly important to IS, with its black and white flag used by IS-affiliates across the Middle East, a factor that helps the terrorist group distinguish itself from the dozens of competing jihadi factions across the region.

It also helps bolster the central idea of the caliphate, that it is a unified Islamic state that stretches not just across swathes of Iraq and Syria but the wider world.

The scarf he’s wearing on his neck is called a keffiyeh, a Muslim piece of apparel. Here’s a photo of an American soldier wearing one, taken from Wikipedia..

The evidence is mounting that Santiago had the usual Muslim religious motivation for his deadly deed on Friday. There are also reports he watched Jihadi videos as early as 2007.

The photo below showing Santiago being arrested appears to show a small cap on his head. Did he wear a Jewish yarmulke to disguise himself or to make some kind of statement about Jews? Developing …

5 thoughts on “Airport Shooter Esteban Santiago’s Photo Shows Him Making the ISIS One Finger Sign

  1. Pingback: Airport Shooter Esteban Santiago’s Photo Shows Him Making the ISIS One Finger Sign | Afro Futurism

  2. The one finger symbol turns up a lot in history. It even makes an appearance in Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”. I suspect it has a meaning that goes way beyond just ISIS.

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