A Brief History of Time Magazine's 'X' Covers

A special bin Laden issue will be the fifth time the magazine has used the design

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When Time's special issue on the death of Osama bin Laden hits newsstands Thursday, it will be the fourth cover in the magazine's history to feature a red 'X' scrawled across the face of an American enemy. This bin Laden  'X' was illustrated by Tim O'Brien. A look at the circumstances surrounding the magazine's first three red-'X's.

Adolf Hitler (May 7 1945)

The issue came out after the discovery of Hitler's body on May 2, but before the German surrender of May 8.

Japan (August 20, 1945)

This was the first cover after nuclear weapons were dropped on Hiroshima (Aug. 5) and Nagasaki (Aug. 9). Because of the red in Japan's flag, a black cross was used instead. The formal surrender of Japan came on Sept. 2.

Saddam Hussein (April 21, 2003)

Time waited nearly 60 years for its second red-'X' cover. This cover didn't coincide with the former Iraqi dictator's capture of execution of the former Iraqi dictator. The U.S.-led coalition had merely taken control of Baghdad. Hussein was still on the run, and wouldn't be captured for another seven months. He was executed in 2006.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (June 13, 2006)

The death of al-Qaeda's number three in a U.S.-led airstrike coincided with waning American popular support for the war. Zarqawi was called the "mastermind" of the insurgency in Iraq.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.