Jihadist Trophies of War

Dawn Perlmutter is the Director of the Symbol Intelligence Group and one of the leading subject matter experts (SME) in symbols, symbolic methodologies, unfamiliar customs and ritualistic crimes. She designed and developed Jihad-ID, a symbolic database of the signs, symbols and identifiers of global jihad.


trTo fully comprehend how jihadists can abduct over three hundred schoolgirls for the purpose of selling them into sexual slavery and how they can behead, dismember and cannibalize their enemies, these incidents need to be understood as Islamist trophies of war. Human trophy taking is an ancient and widespread practice that appears in almost every culture throughout history. Historically, the classic example of trophies of war are human body parts, most often the head, but also skulls, teeth, fingers and soft body parts such as scalps, ears and genitalia. The second most common trophies of war are women who are taken as slaves or wives. Human trophies are material status symbols of the successful warrior. The origin of the term trophy is derived from the Greek tropaion referring to arms, property, human captives and body parts captured in battle that commemorate victory over a state, army or individual combatant.  The abducted Nigerian girls are Boko Haram’s war trophies in the Islamic global holy war (jihad). The practice of sexual slavery of apostates and non-Muslim women is justified by Islamic law, as is the practice of beheading, dismembering and mutilating the enemies of Islam.

Historically, for many cultures, the most important trophy was the human head. This is true of Islam where beheading has long historical and theological precedents. The trophy head still is the Jihadist’s emblem of war, a sign of victory, martial prowess and power appropriated from the victim. It confers status and honor upon the jihadist warrior. From serial killers to Syrian jihadists, human trophy taking involves ritual behaviors that demonstrate dominance over the victim and commemorate the kill.  Disarticulated human body parts obtained from fallen enemies historically were collected, exhibited, displayed, saved or worn. In the 20th century photography became another method of commemorating victory. Photos of the killing or posing with dead enemies replaced taking the actual body part. Photos of murders are often referred to as souvenirs and photos from combat as war porn. Traditionally human trophies required actual body parts as proof of the kill. However, mobile phone technology and internet video sites have introduced a new phenomenon in human war trophies: videotaped beheadings, dismemberment and mutilation. Instead of having a necklace of ears or a belt of scalps, jihadists preserve their kills on their cell phones. Similar to other warrior contests, a rivalry over who can videotape the worst atrocity escalates.  The violent image that goes viral wins.

Videotaped beheadings and atrocities are the new trophies of war. The father of modern beheading , Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, was notorious for beheading dozens of Iraqi and foreign hostages and distributing videos of the beheadings on the Internet. Zarqawi’s videotapes can be considered Beheading 1.0. They were formal ritual executions that involved a reading of offenses (transgressions), confession, judgment, last words, execution, praising of Allah and a statement of demands. Today, ten years later the Syrian jihadists, Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, Somali Al Shabaab, al Qaeda and Salafi jihadists around the world are engaged in Beheading 2.0, exemplified by savagery unleashed.  Jihadist beheadings have devolved into primal feral warfare with cannibalism, feeding body parts to dogs, grilling heads on stoves, playing soccer with human heads and many other atrocities, videotaped and uploaded on the internet. These murders are always ritualized even if it is just the proclamation of Allahu Akbar to sanction the violence.

This type of violence is often misinterpreted by Western analysts as deviant behavior. It is often construed as similar to the actions of serial killers who photograph their victims to relive the experience or as aberrant soldiers who were predisposed to psychopathy. Indeed most of the general public can only comprehend these horrors as the actions of the mentally ill. Beheadings, cannibalism, dismemberment is not the result of psychopathology, it is authentic Islam. Violent atrocity committed for the cause of global jihad is Islam in its natural state, unveiled, without political correctness, voices of apology or revisionist history. It is also al Qaeda’s stated ideological goal, the purification of Islam through violent struggle. Culturally sanctioned violence is not pathological it is the norm. The violence, no matter how inexplicable, is justified as purification rites to cleanse Islam from its exposure to Western influence.

Authentic Islam sanctions beheadings and sexual slavery. Trophy heads and women have always been the spoils of war. To understand how Islam permits men to buy and sell girls, captured in jihad, as sexual slaves read Islam, Slavery and Rape in FrontPage May 7, 2014. In a recent video Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau arrogantly proclaims, “I abducted your girls. I will sell them in the market, by Allah,”…. “I abducted a girl at a Western education school and you are disturbed. I said Western education should end. Girls, you should go and get married,” he said. “I will marry off a woman at the age of 12. I will marry off a girl at the age of nine. “God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions,”… “There is a market for selling humans. Allah says I should sell. He commands me to sell. I will sell women. I sell women.” During his video jihadists militants are firing rifles in the air and crying, “Allahu Akbar!” Shekau’s message is not intended as a justification for his actions it is a recruitment video, a brilliant piece of propaganda that will appeal to sexually frustrated men who will join the fight just so they can engage in morally sanctioned sex.

Women and human body parts are traditional trophies of war. Videos that display the severing of body parts and depict men laughing and playing with human heads and holding up severed heads are the new trophies of war. Now technology allows jihadists to display their trophies to the whole world.  These videos are badges of honor that demonstrate military prowess, bestow status and most significantly inspire others to join. Al Qaeda understands that sex, violence, heroism and other rewards of battle sells. The history of Islam is a history of trophies of war.

Dawn Perlmutter Director of Symbol & Ritual Intelligence and adj. Professor in the Forensic Medicine Program at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine is considered one of the leading subject matter experts (SME) in the areas of symbols, unfamiliar customs, ritualistic crimes and religious violence. She has advised police departments and prosecutors offices on numerous cases of ritual homicide and presented expert witness testimony on ritualistic crimes.

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  • Texas Patriot

    Throughout the history of mankind on earth, barbarism has always been the norm, and civilization has always been the exception. As we embark on the great adventure of the 21st Century, the only thing that has changed is that the “civilized men” of our day have become blind and deluded regarding the essential truth of their own human nature. They can see the sins of others, but they can’t see their own. Islam is successful in this environment because it purports to sanction and glorify man’s violent, hateful, and vengeful instincts with the imprimatur of holy writ. Christianity has always been a much more difficult sell because it calls for men to overcome their natural instincts by always choosing truth over lies, love over hatred, and peace over war. Therefore, whenever in the course of human history it comes to pass the culture of civilized man begins to glorify the violent, hateful, and vengeful qualities of human nature, Islam gains a natural advantage and is usually the clear winner.

    • Dyer’s Eve

      Well said! And thank you! You can also add that most people (not all) wear a thin veneer of civilisation at best. It does not take much for people to shed civility and go feral. As you say, that is why Islam is successful.

    • Dawn Perlmutter

      I agree, very well said. Serial killers and others who have committed ritual murders also justify their homicides with ideologies that glorify violence and vengeance as natural. Similar to jihadists they have no remorse.

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    • cxt

      TexasPatriot

      “Throughout the history of mankind….barbarism has always be the norm and civilization the exception.”

      Very well said!

      And sadly very true.

    • Drakken

      Well what do you know, I agree completely with you in your missive. I will add to it somewhat. War is inherent in human nature, and is always beneath the surface, we in the west to our own detriment and utter delusions, have lost the will to survive and think we can negotiate with those who mean us harm, islam being the prime example, when it is as clear as day that the only way you can deal with islam is by eliminating it to the last muslim. The one thing I can always depend upon is human nature, and one way or another nature always finds a way. We in the west will be pushed because of the lack of resolve and will, but that is slowly changing, and lying dormant in the western man is the DNA strand of conquer and kill, and sooner or later that strand of dormant DNA will rise to the surface because of necessity.

    • ObamaYoMoma

      Personally I wouldn’t morally equate Islam with Christianity, since a so-called religion that you can’t apostatize from without being killed isn’t a religion in my book. It’s a cult. Further, in Islam blasphemers are also routinely executed. Thus, anyone in Islamic society that makes the mistake of publicly denouncing Islam or who openly rejects the tenets of Islam is executed for blasphemy, and I don’t know of any legit religions that do likewise. Do you?

      Moreover, Islam is a so-called religion that requires as its first and foremost prerequisite the total, complete, and unconditional submission to the “will of Allah” under the penalty of death for blasphemy and apostasy of all adherents. Thus, this begs the question, what is the “will of Allah” that all Muslims totally, completely, and unconditionally submit to under the penalty of death for blasphemy and apostasy? In essence, the “will of Allah” is Sharia, which is otherwise known as Islamic totalitarian law, and Islamic totalitarian law (Sharia) is extremely draconian since it is the product of an extremely barbaric megalomaniac.

      Now, of course, to all Muslims Islam is a religion. Indeed, it is their religion, since that is all that they know, but the fact remains nonetheless that Islam is unlike any other religion in that only Islam alone uses the twin curses of blasphemy and apostasy to control the minds and actions of its adherents, and that makes Islam a form of totalitarianism. Indeed, it is more accurate to label Islam a very totalitarian cult than it is to conflate it with being a religion.

    • Joe The Gentile

      Well said. I would add an addendum: you say ‘They can see the sins of others, but they can’t see their own’. On an individual level, I would agree. But on a collective level, it is the reverse: They can see the sins/errors of their own civilization, but they can’t see the sins/errors/crimes of another civilization.

      • X30X

        AH! The “Collective 0bama” PROBLEM.

    • kenaan

      During the 11 years of establishment of the first Islamic state in Madineh ,and through 29 battles under the leadership of Prophet Muhammed only 900 non-Muslim people were killed ,while Muslims lost 326 ,these battles were enough to spread Islam over the whole Arab Peninsula.Compared to the compassionate Christian wars: the 30 years war cost the Protestants and Catholics more than 1.8 million soldiers , In the WWI 15 milln people perished ,in the WWII more than 40 million have been killed ,not to mention the cruelest crime in the humanity history – HIroshima and Nagazaki atomic bombs . In 1969 the football war between Selvador and Hindoras left 2000 dead, and more than 300000 homeless . So please stop preaching other people ,why did you keep silent when you watched the massacres against Muslims in Central Africa? I’ll answer ;it’s the hatred, drudge, racism , and vulgarity which you try to throw upon others.

      • Texas Patriot

        You’re so right. Just as Boko Haram liberated the poor Nigerian schoolgirls, Muslim armies have been liberating non-Muslims since the days of Muhammad.

      • Drakken

        Your the poster child of, No more muslims, No more problems. As for the muslims of central Africa being slaughtered? Good bloody riddance! You muslims absolutely hate it when the infidels plays by your rules.

    • IronMaidenaregods

      What is required is not religion but REASON.

      Reason is the antidote to the barbarism of the article.

      Try reading the bible and see how many justifications for slavery you can find.

      If you say you find none, you haven’t read the book.

  • notme123

    Why did it take so long for the outrage, especially from the WH and the press? I read about this weeks ago. But then again, there is still no outrage about Bengazi after almost 2 years. Is this just to get votes in upcoming elections?

    • Drakken

      Because the western communist progressive thinks it can negotiate with evil and the forces of anti-civilization by appeasing it, allying with it and using it against its enemies, not fully realizing that they will be slaughtered and eaten last.

  • Dyer’s Eve

    Remember Nick Berg. He was beheaded in Iraq ten years ago this month, if memory serves me correctly. He wasn’t the first man to be beheaded and he, alas, will not be the last. I never knew him, but I will never forget him.

    • Dawn Perlmutter

      Nick Berg was the first beheading that came to the American publics attention and even then many people claimed it was staged. In the early 1990’s the Bosnian Mujahideen who fought in the Bosnian war would decapitate the heads of Serb soldiers some keeping them as trophies. In the late 90’s the Chechen Mujahideen were known for their brutality and infamous for the 1999 Dagestan Massacre where they beheaded 13 poorly-trained Russian conscripts. Photos and videotapes of these incidents were not broadcast widely in Western media until 2005. The beheading of American journalist Daniel Pearl in 2002 was filmed but not widely circulated on the internet until years afterward. In Iraq and Afghanistan there were dozens of videotaped beheadings, hundreds of civilians and soldiers decapitated and headless bodies frequently found by soldiers. Beheadings still occur and have escalated to include mass beheadings where jihadists will kill as many as 15 people at one time. Beheadings have increased among other jihadist groups including Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in Pakistan, Bersatu in Thailand, Jemaah Islamiyah in Indonesia, Al Shabaab in Somalia, al-Qaeda in Lands of the Islamic Maghreb in Algeria, Mali, Mauritania and Niger, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen and other countries. Currently, the worst atrocities are in Syria.

      • Dyer’s Eve

        And in Saudi Arabia, so-called al Queda in the bumble-f–k peninsula cut off Paul Johnson’s head. Later, his head was found in a freezer of one of those Saudi c–ts.

      • kenaan

        Startling is your focusing on an issue , you can collect data including photos, eyewitnesses, statistics …etc to convince readers that Islam is a cult of killers. I can’t defend anybody of these Muslim groups unless there is a legal judgement and he who is convicted with convincing evidences should be murdered. Otherwise killing an innocent is a crime .Our religion Islam does not agree on it.Let’s have a Western example ; When a murderer controlling an American drone and kills tens of Afghani civilian villagers ,you do not care for the crime , why / First because the victim is already set as a criminal because he was born a Muslim .Second because this is a modern and soft process of killing ( I think you even believe the killed ones enjoy it) .The criminal is hiding deep in your souls , but according to your civilization standard your sacred weaponry never do mistakes rather than the gentlemen who uses it to get rid of the Mulsim (bastards).

        (Afghan villagers flee their homes, blame US drones

        Thursday Mar 28, 2013 5:39 AM)Anja Niedringhaus / AP

        Men walk through the debris of the destroyed school in the village of Budyali, Nangarhar province, on March 19, 2013.

  • JVictor

    My blood boils when American Progressives shout that the “right” is engaging in a “war on women” when you highlight the atrocities committed by these Islamic scoundrels. But, it’s the same American Progressives that shout about the “war on Islam” whenever the light of truth is shined upon the treatment of women at the hands of Muslims. The hypocrisy of leftist progressivism is maddening. Where was the outrage about forced marriages or rapes or trophy slaves or genital mutilation?

    Why does it take the kidnapping of 300 girls to get the attention of Mrs. Obama when women have been subjugated to sub-human treatment for centuries at the hands of like-minded MUSLIMS? The weakness exhibited by her husband and his band of merry miscreants has emboldened the likes of Boko Haram and others to think that they can exert their brutal brand of sexism on the likes of young girls. To almost quote the left, “It’s Barack’s fault.”

    • X30X

      TO mooshelle, it’s only another “Inconvenient Truth”.

  • Harry_the_Horrible

    Jihadists don’t just fight for their religion, they also fight for pay and loot.
    For many of them, it is the only way to improve their status enough to afford a wife.

  • Joseph White

    In my opinion, Islam and it’s barbarian attitudes must be wiped off of the face of the earth, in order for us to have any sort of lasting peace. Islam is the one religion that doesn’t teach, “Do unto others,” or “Be kind to your neighbor.” Islam is religion/cult of violence and death, and there is nothing redeeming about it at all. It denigrates women and children and all faiths. It is time for this cult to be destroyed.

    • Libslayer

      The future belongs to those who utterly eradicate the cancer of Islam from the earth. Islam is a barbaric political system and death cult.
      Of course the American satan, Barack Obama, supports Islam unconditionally.

      • X30X

        he BEING one of and with them.

    • KO

      Eradicating Islam is a violent fantasy. Sequestering Islam — by barring immigration, tourism, commercial and educational exchanges, and so on — is within the realm of the possible, though our dear leaders think they can use Islam to beat down white Christian America to bring about their profitable multiculti consumer paradise. If you or your kids are blown away in the process, that’s just collateral damage. You might even say our ruling class is fomenting an enemy invasion.

  • Hard Little Machine

    Let’s be honest that this has a great deal more to do with how WE feel about little girls than anything else. Not only has Boko Haram done things much worse that this including mass murder, rape and torture and pretty much ethnic cleansing where no one’s really been particularly interested, but had they abducted 300 young boys or mothers or old people there would be 5% of the response we see now. For instance, no one really cares about ‘child soldiers’ or the fact that in Africa rape is generally considered a weapon of war.

  • Habbgun

    The Moslem possesses one of the few civilizations where its successes must be erased by history or else we will know what the Moslem is. They had a tremendous period of success with the Ottomans to the North, the Mongols to the East and the North Africans in the south. To remember their heyday would be to remember that slavery, kidnapping, piracy and forced conversion and military service of non-Moslems (the Janissaries) was the norm. Atrocity was the norm. Stealing women was the norm. The market economy of Islam is based totally on slavery. Without slavery there is no hard cash.

  • Libslayer

    But don’t ever forget that Islam is a “religion of peace”.
    (Eye roll)

  • ObamaYoMoma

    This type of violence is often misinterpreted by Western analysts as deviant behavior.

    Because of its often extremely violent and brutal nature, it is often morally equated and conflated as being terrorism by PC multiculturalists, the so-called MSM, and even many people be on the right. However, jihad (holy war), both the violent and non-violent varieties, is a manifestation solely unique to Islamic culture alone as it is always and only waged by Muslims in the cause of Allah to make Islam supreme. Whereas terrorism, on the other hand, is always and only violent, in stark contrast to jihad, which manifests both violently and non-violently, is universal in that all cultures and societies produce terrorists, and terrorism has been perpetrated for all sorts of various reasons and various causes, in stark contrast to jihad, which is a holy war waged only in the cause of Allah to make Islam supreme.

    Moreover, non-violent jihad by stealth and deception manifests astronomically far more prevalently today relative to the violent varieties of jihad, but for the most part goes undetected and unopposed because the violent variety of jihad is always morally equated and conflated as being terrorism. Hence, if it isn’t violent, then it isn’t construed as being terrorism, and if it isn’t terrorism, then it doesn’t represent a threat. This is a fatal mistake for the infidel world, because overall the non-violent varieties of jihad are doing far more damage to the infidel world relative to the violent varieties. Nevertheless, this kind of idiocy will continue to exist as long as people persist in morally equating and conflating what is really jihad as somehow being terrorism.

    Indeed, conflating jihad as somehow being terrorism is as dumb as dividing Muslims into so-called moderates and so-called radicals and dividing Islam between so-called moderate Islam and so-called radical Islam. The reality is all Muslims are jihadists in one form or another, either violent or non-violent. Otherwise they are blasphemous apostates that must be executed according to the dictates of Islam. Furthermore, the texts of the Koran emanates directly from Allah as dictated to Muhammad by the archangel Gabriel. Thus, there can only be one Islam, mainstream orthodox Islam, as any mere mortal man perceived as changing just one word of the Koran would be executed immediately for blasphemy.

    • Joe The Gentile

      Some of what you say is correct. However, insulting your opponents is neither convincing nor a good argument.

      I’ve asked you this in other words before, but only heard insults in response. You seem to be laboring under a false dichotomy: if it is Jihad it can’t be terrorism. Why can’t something be Jihad AND terrorism?

      Can something be both murder and Jihad? Or does dichotomy apply here too?
      Can something be both rape and Jihad? Or does dichotomy apply here too?
      If dichotomy applies to terrorism and Jihad, why does it not apply to murder and Jihad and rape and Jihad?

      Please try the questions, and remember that if you resort to insults, it’s a sign you’ve lost the argument.

      • X30X

        IN that case YOU LOSE.

        • Joe The Gentile

          No, I have not been personal at all. I am merely in disagreement, and discouraging further personal attacks. I want to keep it about the issues.

      • Joe The Gentile

        Hellooooooooo, debate calling, knock knock, is Omama Yo Mama ready to debate his position…. The shots of reason have been fired, any Omama Yo Mama to respond.

        • X30X

          AS I had written: YOU LOSE.
          (Again.)

          • Joe The Gentile

            No. ObamaYoMama, is X30X your slave or a sock-puppet? How lovely, X30X rushes in to support you, you upvote X30X and X30X upvotes you.

            You ran away from debate, and you always will run from this one. Full of ideas of how stupid other people are, well able to abuse them, not so hot on counter-argument.

          • X30X

            JUST what I have always wanted – to be “followed” by a Low-info, Loose Loser, “Prog”.

          • Joe The Gentile

            You were followed for literally about five seconds, because I hit the wrong button. Don’t worry, I have better things to be doing than following a troll.

            Anyway, Obama Yo Mama, who boasted he would ‘make mincemeat’ of someone else in debate recently, DEBATE IS STILL CALLING! Proud of those views; want to take them further; confident of their validity and logic; and not a shred of chicken in you; Not a shred of chickie-chickie-cluck-cluck-SQUAWK!

            Then DEBATE! Answer the questions above.

          • X30X

            “TO Troll or not to Troll.”; your conundrum, not mine.

    • KO

      If you have one Muslim family in a town, they won’t be jihadists. If you have two, they can’t help it. There is no place for Muslims in America, at least not beyond one family in a town. Muslim communities are jihadist communities.

      But it’s not necessary to get lost in comparing Islam to other religions, or religions to political systems, or jihad and terrorism. They are at war. They are attacking. We have to fight back. The MSM and political and commercial leadership see the war — there is no spoon — as just a bump in the road towards their multicultural paradise. They think the Moslems will just help them take the country from you.

      • ObamaYoMoma

        If you have one Muslim family in a town, they won’t be jihadists. If you have two, they can’t help it. There is no place for Muslims in America, at least not beyond one family in a town. Muslim communities are jihadist communities.

        You won’t have just one Muslim family in a town, since Muslims always make it a point to form Muslim enclaves that in time morph into Muslim no-go zones ruled by Sharia that are in effect tiny Islamic statelets residing within the larger infidel state.

        Not to mention that Muslims never ever assimilate and integrate into infidel society, as that would be exceedingly blasphemous and blasphemy in Islam, just like apostasy as well, is a capital offense.

        Thus, it couldn’t be any more obvious, the only reason that Muslims are migrating to the infidel world with all of their excess baggage is to eventually subjugate and dominate, as the sole fundamental purpose of Islam is the subjugation of all infidels and all religions into Islamic totalitarianism through both violent and non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad and the eventual imposition of Sharia, i.e., Islamic totalitarian law, to ultimately make Islam supreme throughout the world. Hence, mass Muslim immigration with all of its excess baggage is really non-violent stealth and deceptive jihad for the nefarious purposes of mass Muslim infiltration and eventual demographic conquest.

  • Omar

    I know that our president Obama has been investigating this. Kerry assured him that it was just racist lies against destitute muzlims. Islam is of peace and you better stop saying otherwise or Pelosi will take you to jail. Do any of you really believe that with Obama, Reid, Boehner, Graham, Boxer, Pelosi and war heroes McCain and Kerry, that America would ever put up with bad stuff in the world. Kerry was badly injured 4 times. He is America’s national treasure for sure. The McCain guy is kind of demented as he acts like a democrat but say otherwise.

  • scottbashaw

    Its way past time we go after these Muslim Savages and put them down

  • spyeatte

    I always thought wife number 1 was a goat, for these guys.

  • liz

    Well isn’t it great that with the advance of civilization such things as cellphones and internet have been developed, so that they could be used for such great purposes by Muslims?
    Yes, it’s so great that they’ve taken advantage of the opportunity learn the ways of civilized behavior and join the 21st century.
    Oh, except wait, they didn’t.
    No, of course these tools of advanced technology were really invented to be used for the greatly edifying purpose of displaying to the world the depth of the “spiritual struggle” of these noble, pious, holy people – as they joyfully engage in murdering, maiming, beheading, and raping all non Muslims.
    Yes, as our President opined, the fabric of our society has been so enriched by these valuable contributions! Truly blessed, according to others.
    But we should never have expected anything less from these mentally challenged, inbred morons who not only refuse to civilize themselves, but consider it a religious duty to continually regress further back into ape-like barbarity.

  • popseal

    Nothing has changed since the first rabid Muslims started for ancient Spain 1400 years ago. A good man with a gun or an armed Predator Drone is the best solution for these mad dogs.