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30 Percent of Islamic Suicide Bombers Are Women

Monday, 24 April 2006 12:00 AM

Western news media give little coverage to women suicide bombers, despite their increasing numbers: International terrorist expert Rohan Gunaratna estimates that 30 percent of radical Islamic suicide attackers are now women.

Terrorist leaders are encouraging their enlistment. Egyptian Sheik Yussuf al-Qaradawi has issued a fatwa (blessing) for aspiring female suicide bombers. On April 7, 2006, Al-Jazeera TV reported that three suicide bombers killed at least 70 worshipers at a Baghdad Shia mosque and wounded another 158. One of the bombers was a woman, the other two were dressed as women. Without doubt, females are becoming foot soldiers in Islam's "reverse crusade" against Western civilization and its Judeo-Christian foundations.

The American psyche refuses to accept that women are capable of volunteering to die in this way. Such fuzzy thinking can prove a costly delusion when dealing with those Muslims who accept the duty of jihad.

Al-Qaida, a previously male-dominated terrorist organization, now includes women (mujahidat or holy warriors) in all phases of their operations. To communicate with the mujahidat, al-Qaida has set up an online magazine or "webzine" known as al-Khanasaa, the nom de plume of Tomader Bint Amre al-Sharid, a noted Arab poet and convert to Islam in the early Islamic era.

Al-Qaida and its associated groups are recruiting female jihadists by using Western-style cyberspace techniques to influence both mothers and daughters. Among the links on al-Khansaa are radical Web sites in many countries, including Saudia Arabia.

In the United States, liberal circles respond by burying their heads in the sand, denying the very existence of an Islamic jihad. Such denial has become a tenet of an anti-American, anti-war subculture in academia and the political left. Their calls for peace at any price chillingly echo those who advocated appeasement of Hitler in the 1930s. These new appeasers say that the atrocities being committed by Islamic terrorists must be ignored, downplayed, or somehow justified.

Western news media offer a litany of excuses for women suicide bombers – describing them as victims of rape, male domination and intimidation, religious manipulation, impoverishment, and incited after loss of family members. Women bombers thus are cloaked in the Western image of the "weaker sex," docile and benign marching to the whims of their fathers, husbands, or imams. Interviews with failed bombers, however, indicate that Islamic women become terrorists for the same reasons as men – for glory, for religious zealotry and for economic compensation to their families through martyr payments funded by Arab leaders such as Saddam Hussain.

The Muslim women's hijab (veil) and abaija (tunic) serve to conceal both their identity and their possible possession of bombs or other weapons. Stanley Bedlington, a former CIA senior analyst on counter-terrorism, attests to women bombers being harder to detect because of ingrained social attitudes toward them and because codes of modesty prevent some security forces from searching them. Olga Oliker of the Rand Corporation calls for a shift in the mindset of security forces if they are to view men and women equally as potential adversaries in the war on terror.

In 2003, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, a French anti-terrorist investigative judge, warned that terrorists were recruiting Caucasian women as suicide bombers, because they would be less likely to arouse suspicion. Women terrorists are not new, but women and young girls volunteering as suicide bombers are a recent growing development.

The concept of jihad has evolved since the military operations of the Prophet Muhammad, who sought to conquer the infidels (non-Muslims) in the 7th century A.D. After Muhammad's death in 632, Islam split into two major divisions – Sunni and Shia. Islamic law is based on the Quran, the Sunnah and hadith. In the beginning, the Quran gave women legal rights of inheritance and divorce, rights that western women did not obtain until centuries later.

Women were among Islam's first converts, and the prophet's first wife, Khadija, was a successful merchant. The Shia believe the proper successor of Muhammad was Ali, the husband of Muhammad's daughter, Fatima. This line of succession coincides with the Shia granting more rights to women. After two sons of Ali and Fatima were killed in battle, martyrdom became a tenet of Shiism for men and women alike.

Today's women warriors are regaining the prominence they had under the Prophet. They are becoming part of the radical Islamist Revivalist Movement, which envisions a global khilafa or unity of Muslim nation states similar to the Ottoman Empire. Religion-based Islamic terrorist organizations use violence for what they conceive as a divine plan to achieve a worldwide khilafa.

The Islamic Revivalist Movement is a loose confederation of groups such as Al-Qaida, Hamas, Hizbollah, Aum Shinrikyo, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Taliban, the Philippine Abu Sayyaf, the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, and Saudia Arabia's Wahhabis. Members of the Movement claim that seeds of hate were sown by the Crusades and nourished over the decades by the secularism of Western liberals and democratized Islamic regimes. Islamists believe that one's faith and actions are partners, and that the measure of one's faith is one's deeds.

Law enforcement authorities in Western Europe are aware that Islamists are recruiting women, and in particular, converts to Islam. These converts tend to be easy to radicalize and willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of Allah. The concept that Allah has promised rewards for those who glorify and fight for Allah in times of peace and war is instilled in converts. Islamic indoctrination stresses that the American war on terror is in reality a war on Islam, both religious and political. Islamic terrorist leaders refer to their opposition as "infidels" and "hypocrites," thus defining the basic ideology of Islamic terrorist organizations.

A Palestinian woman, unsuccessful in detonating her bomb, was arrested by Israeli security and stated that religious authorities had taught her about the reward for women martyrs, which is to be the purest and most beautiful form of angels at the highest level possible in heaven.

The Islamic female martyr's reward is thus juxtaposed against the male martyr's reward––a harem of virgins in heaven. Jihad fulfills the historical invocation of the Quran and of the Muslim imams, writers, and theologians. It is said that Muslims love most their faith, their brethren, and their land. Islamist leaders use these concepts in recruiting suicide bombers.

In 1995 in Toledo, Ohio, the radical imam, Yussuf al-Qaradawi, invigorated a Muslim youth convention with this call to action, "We will conquer Europe, we will conquer America!" He extolled the writings of Muslim scholar Ibn Khaldun (1332–1406), who held that Muslims have the duty of jihad, to convert the whole world (non-Muslim) either by persuasion or by force. Ibn Khaldun wrote that Islam alone is to gain power over nation states.

Women have been engaged in war since ancient times, but only in the last years have women suicide bombers become a mainstay of Islamic terrorism. In the 1980s, the Syrian Socialist National Party (SSNP) introduced women suicide bombers, and San'a Mehaydali detonated a bomb in Lebanon to become the first female suicide bomber of the modern age.

In Palestine, Hamas (acronym of Harakat al-Muqawamat al-Islamiya or the Islamic Resistance Movement) began recruiting women warriors in the 1980s. After decades as a terrorist organization, Hamas became a political party and gained parliamentary control of Palestine in the February 2006 elections. As part of the Islamic Revivalist Movement, Hamas has earned political legitimacy with the help of at least five female bombers.

Wafa Idris, a 28-year-old Palestinian nurse with the Red Crescent (Muslim equivalent of Red Cross) is credited with starting the practice of women Hamas bombers on Jan. 27, 2002. Carrying a rucksack loaded with a 22-lb bomb, she blew herself up and killed and injured Israelis in the process. Following her death, more female suicide bombers surfaced in the area.

Darin Abu Aishen, a 21-year-old student, blew herself up at a military checkpoint. Andaleeb Takafka, a 20-year-old native of Bethlehem, killed six and injured 104 people with a bomb concealed under her clothes; and Ayat Akhras, 18 years old, blew herself up at a Jerusalem bus stop in March 2002. Reem Salih al-Rayasha, a 21-year-old mother of two children, blew herself up in January 2004. In November 2005, two separate suicide bombings are thought to have been conducted by militant Palestinian women, and a husband-and-wife Iraqi team was responsible for a hotel bombing in Jordan during a wedding. The wife, Sajida al-Rishawi, who survived when her bomb failed to detonate, gained international press coverage.

Muslim women in Russia have proved themselves ready for Shahida or martyrdom. The 2002 Dubrovka, Moscow theater siege included female Islamic bombers, as did the rock concert "Krylya" bombing at Tushino. There have been Chechen women airplane bombers and women bombers at the Moscow metro station bombing of 2004. Many of these Russian bombings have been carried out by women who lost their husbands in the Chechnya rebellion, and the Western news media have been quick to glorify them as "the Black Widows of Chechnya," victims of harsh Russian rule. These female bombers were not victims but determined terrorists seeking the establishment of Islamic control of their land as part of a world Dar el-Islam (land where the law of Islam prevails).

Writing for Egypt's Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, Nabil Fattah commented on a 2005 failed Israeli tourist bomb attack by two women in Cairo. "These attacks mark the emergence of a new generation that has embraced radical Islam and violence against foreigners." Marc Sageman, in his book, "Understanding Terror Networks," opines that the war on terror actually promotes the Islamic Revivalist Movement, and women are playing an important part in this global jihad.

In Holland, at least three women are part of the Dutch Hofstad group of radical Islamic jihadists. Two of the women are of Arab descent and the third is a Dutch native and convert to Islam. Five Dutch women married to members of the Hofstad group testified against their Muslim husbands or paramours. Their testimony led to substantial jail sentences for three Muslim radicals and lesser sentences for the others.

Italian authorities have intercepted telephones calls of suspected Muslim terrorists indicating that women were to be the carriers in suicide bombings in such countries as Afghanistan, Chechnya, Holland, Indonesia, Kashmir, Malaysia, Palestine, Pakistan, Europe and America.

On Nov. 9, 2005, Muriel Degauque, a Belgian woman from a solid middle-class Catholic family, died in a suicide attack against coalition forces in Iraq. According to European news media accounts, Muriel Degauque was married to a Moroccan-born radical Islamist. She had no children and had been a troubled teenager who abused drugs and alcohol and rode with a biker gang called The Apaches. She married a Turkish man and helped him obtain legal status in Belgium. They divorced, and she hooked up with an Algerian man who introduced her to Islam. Several years later, she married Issam Goris, the son of a Belgium man and Moroccan woman. He was known to be a radical Islamist. Muriel's mother said her daughter had become "more Muslim than the Muslims."

The French Islamic riots were winding down on that November day in 2005, but the Western news media failed to mention the part of women in the riots and generally ignored the "la kamikase Belge" story coming out of Iraq.

Although European counter-terrorist units are reluctant to discuss any aspect of their work, they estimate that 70 percent of converts to Islam are women, and that women make up at least 23 percent of the present day suicide bombers. An analyst at the Brussels-based European Strategic Intelligence and Security Centre, opined that Muriel Degauque "had a classic profile for a convert to radical Islam. She had a drug problem when she was younger; she had no real job; and was not very close to her family ... we can expect more cases." Edwin Bakker, a Dutch terrorist expert in The Hague, added that studies show suicide bombers as people seeking a new purpose in life. Muriel Degauque will not be the last.


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Western news media give little coverage to women suicide bombers, despite their increasing numbers: International terrorist expert Rohan Gunaratna estimates that 30 percent of radical Islamic suicide attackers are now women. Terrorist leaders are encouraging their...
Monday, 24 April 2006 12:00 AM
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