ISIS Targeting of Western Women May Signal New Role of Female Jihadist

Image: ISIS Targeting of Western Women May Signal New Role of Female Jihadist (Stringer/Reuters/Landov)

Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 03:20 PM

By Jennifer G. Hickey

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The Syrian militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has launched a new online marketing campaign aiming to lure Western women to fight on its behalf, reports The Daily Beast.

The terrorist organization is pitching women by focusing on the "pleasure of providing the domesticity that a warrior waging jihad needs and by doing so serving Islam," writes reporter Jamie Dettmer.

The recruitment of Western women, in particular, and the recent emergence of women-only brigades may be a sign of the changing role of women in the jihadist movement.

The appearance of female brigades in such a conservative group, coupled with the increasing inflow of foreign female jihadists into Syria, is a sign of how women's roles may be changing in an environment where militant groups have established themselves as de facto governments, writes Amy Stoller in Foreign Policy Today.

According to CNN, jihadist terror groups are actively employing social media, including Twitter and chat rooms, to lure Westerners, including women, to the battlefields of Syria.

Women fighting in ISIS ranks appears contradictory, considering the terror group's staunch adherence to Islamic law governing women.

ISIS, for example, published guidelines in July detailing how females should appear in public, including having their hands and feet covered, and to always have a male guardian with them while walking on the streets. They have even required shopkeepers to cover their store mannequins with full-face veils, according to The Guardian.

However, women have emerged in seemingly contradictory positions since the war in Syria began more than two years ago.

In 2013, Syrian President Bashar Assad formed a paramilitary unit known as the Lionesses of Defense to guard checkpoints and perform other security operations, London's Independent newspaper reported.

Rami Abdul Rahman, founder of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group based in Britain, told The New York Times that an estimated 5,000 revolutionary women were now engaged in fighting and military logistics, though the exact number is unknown.

ISIS is even using women to take on the role as enforcers of their strict Islamic moral codes. Shortly after capturing the city of Raqqa in 2013, ISIS formed the al-Khansaa Brigade, an all-female moral police, reported the website Syria Deeply.

Abu Ahmad, an ISIS official in Raqqa, told Syria Deeply that jihad "is not a man-only duty. Women must do their part as well."

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