While I work on another Knights2 post, I’ve decided to toss out an idea that will probably remain underdeveloped unless someone else wants to pick up the loose threads I’m about to drop.
Not long ago, I decided to read all the poetry in Knights2 in succession, but out of narrative context, in order to test out a hunch. In short, Zawahiri’s use of poetry and sacred text are signs in and of themselves, representing secondary and tertiary layers of meaning not commonly expressed in our paint-by-numbers understanding of al-Qaeda and the global Salafist-jihadist movement.
Overlooked rhetorical patterns, built from passages of sacred and profane poetry, Quranic verse, and ahadith, would probably broaden the language of spiritual self-sacrifice, and offer a far more expansive understanding of the movement and its dedicated members than the utilitarian analysis often employed in our intelligence and foreign policy industries.
A jihadi reading this poetry will more than likely receive different messages from it than would a western secular analysts. The nature of that difference is obviously unknown.
Then there's AQ's use of visual signs; they're a sadly neglected subject of study, abandoned to fools who approach them armed with analytical skills honed from years of reading Dan Brown books.
Perhaps there’s an essay in this...I’m thinking of one on al-Muqrin’s halo.