It seems that ISIS has slowly had a change of mind regarding women—while before, they were only seen as useful for domestic duties, the militant organization has now been attempting to interest more women and girls with its propaganda.
According to an interview Nikita Malik had with Christiane Amanpour, the “Islamic State has said in its propaganda many times women are to remain in the home and really their participation in jihad is more nurturing role as a mother and a wife.”
However, this strategy could be shifting. A report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue believes that “ISIS has increased its female-focused efforts, writing manifestos directly for women, directing sections of its online magazine publications Dabiq to the 'sisters of the Islamic State' and allowing women to have a voice within their recruitment strategy -- albeit via social media."
They see women as securing the future of the jihadist population, believing that if they can convince enough women of their goals, they can automatically sustain future generations of fighters, or as Mia Bloom, author of “Bombshell: The Many Faces of Women Terrorists,” puts it, keep it "in the family."
Hasna Ait Boulahcen is one of the most immediate examples of this. Allegedly the relative of Abdelhamid Abaaoud (the architect of the Paris attacks), she is also ISIS’s first female suicide bomber, detonating her vest during the Paris raids. She was recruited only months earlier—she had previously been a non-religious party girl.
Malik posits that the key to halting such recruitment is an understanding of the religious ideology ISIS is using to convince women: “…Somehow [women] think this is divinely mandated. A response to it would have to deal with the theological inaccuracies in some of the propaganda they've revealed as well.”
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