Who are the women who join ISIS?

Anakana Schofield writes: There isn’t much primary source material on the foreign women who have gone voluntarily to Syria and Iraq and chosen to live under the Islamic State, alongside the thousands of women Isis have kidnapped, beaten, raped, forced to convert and sold into sexual slavery. We know the places the volunteers have left but can only speculate as to why.

The women who join Isis are often referred to as female foreign fighters or women jihadis. But according to Women of the Islamic State: A Manifesto on Women by the Al-Khanssaa Brigade, in a section headed ‘secondary functions of a woman’, it would require a fatwa for them actively to fight, ‘as the blessed women of Iraq and Chechnya did, with great sadness’.

The manifesto has been translated by the Quilliam Foundation, ‘the world’s first counter-extremism think tank’, which says that it is aimed at recruiting Arab women, especially from Saudi Arabia. It is supposedly written by women but doesn’t sound like it. It reads as if written by a bunch of men squashed in a hot shed. [Continue reading…]

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