Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Female Face of Terror

THE DAILY TELEGRAPH: If we don't act now, it may not be long before we see women committing acts of terror in Western cities

Since last summer, hardly a week has passed without news of a woman participating in extremism or terrorism. The violent group Boko Haram is using female suicide bombers to wreak havoc in Nigeria. From Denver to Vienna, "Caliphettes" – young girls pledging their support to Isil’s so called "Caliphate" on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr – are escaping to marry Jihadis in Syria.

And most recently, Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of one of the perpetrators of the recent terrorist atrocities in Paris, is the most wanted terror suspect in the world today.

Despite this growing trend, women have largely failed to be incorporated into counter-extremism strategies.

For too long Western societies have viewed women, particularly Muslim women, singularly as victims of fundamentalist ideology. There is collective shock over the fact that they are now proving to be as much agents of that ideology as men – as proxy soapbox orators, encouraging those who cannot get to the battleground, to do as much damage as possible at home, as brutal, sometimes violent, enforcers of strict Islamic codes (the Al-Khansaa all-female moral brigade in Raqqa), and as the mothers of the next generation of Jihadists. Online, where Institute for Strategic Dialogue has been tracking the social media accounts of women living in Isil territory, a Jihadi girl power subculture has emerged: becoming a Caliphette is portrayed as empowering.
Indeed, the spectre of radicalised Western women streaming to the battlegrounds of Syria should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Isil’s highly sophisticated, tech[-]savvy radicalisation and recruitment machinery. They deploy peer-to-peer, in this case girl-to-girl, marketing strategies, Twitter amplification apps, iconic memes, gaming imagery and go-pro footage from the field. » | Farah Pandith and Sasha Havlicek | Wednesday, January 28, 2015