Fox uses Usama Bin Laden’s silhouette to denote “Muslim terrorist” when pictures of some of their subjects aren’t available. For example, on October 16, 2007, Fox reported on Samir Khan—a twenty-one year old American of Saudi decent—who operated a website that relayed messages from various “jihadi” groups. Anchor Bill Hemmer commented, “we can not show you a picture of the twenty one year old American.”
And the screen cut to:
This equates “terrorism” with cultural signifiers like facial hair or certain kinds of ethnic clothing. Considering that Hemmer referred to Khan as “an American,” the silhouette, which doesn’t resemble a representative “American,” evokes xenophobic sentiments considering Khan is accused of sympathizing with al Qaeda and Bin Laden’s image is so understandably reviled.
The graphic didn’t reveal any new information and there was actually no practical reason to display the profile—especially one that was not produced using Khan’s image.
Fox has used this same image in other contexts also. On August 15, 2008, after reporting on Iranian trained Shiite assassination teams that were soon to take over Iraq (based on tips by an unnamed source), Fox used the same image of a fringe Sunni to denote Iranian and Iraqi Shi’is.
Here is the image they are likely using:
Irancove @ October 16, 2008