While walking through an airport, vocalist Tom Araya picked up a March 2006 issue of Texas Monthly with a soldier's helmet on the front cover. Seeing the article "Casualty of War", he was interested enough to purchase a copy. The issue explored the involvement of military personnel from Texas in the Iraq War, and included a list of Texan soldiers who had died in the conflict. The feature was accompanied by photographs of some of the dead, while a further article dealt with the anguish of surviving soldiers on their return home. Araya later said that the article "blew his mind".
Araya read the article during his flight back to Los Angeles. Pre-production for Slayer's ninth studio album Christ Illusion had just begun, and the band was about to undertake a three-day rehearsal with producer Josh Abraham. Araya left his baggage at the hotel to attend the rehearsals, then returned to re-read the article. Finding it to be "very profound", he woke up in the middle of the night and wrote down the lyrics. He said that his treatment of the topic is "sincere", and that he believes it to be "one that the military doesn't want you to know. They sweep it under the rug, but it's a story that needs to be told." The band's guitarist, Kerry King, has said that "these new songs [from the Christ Illusion album] aren't political at all: 'Jihad', 'Eyes of the Insane' — it's what's spewing out at us from the TV."