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ISIS Recruitment between Western, Arab Women | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Women in ISIS | Source: Reuters

Riyadh- Pressures imposed on terrorist organizations like ISIS and the capture of a large number of its members has forced a sort of qualitative change in its strategy, like appointing women in leading positions, allowing them to hold arms and execute bombings and recruit more of them through social media outlets.

In its attraction of female members, ISIS uses different methods. It focuses on religious dialogue while recruiting Arab women, while it uses social discourse with Western ones.

Slogans to attract women

ISIS exerts remarkable efforts on social media websites by stirring courage to refuse the ongoing situation in Syria and to incite fighting and struggle for freedom. It also seeks to show fighting as an enthusiastic adventure. Thus, many European ladies have decided to quit their normal lives and travel to the most dangerous zones in the world to fight with terrorist groups.

For example, we all have heard about the British twin Salma and Zahra who appeared on social media to influence teenage girls whether by using grenades and Kalashnikov, or by expressing their complete support to the crimes of ISIS against the Syrian army considered as self-defense.

ISIS has sought to fill the social and psychological gaps among the youth generation in the Western society, especially among Muslims from non-Western origins who suffer from a chronic feeling of isolation and from difficulties of integration in these communities because of the ideological differences. This situation facilitates ISIS’ mission in convincing these kinds of people to move to the “land of true Islam” and leave anxiety and social reluctance behind them.

The story of the French Journalist Anna Erelle highlighted ISIS’ behaviors and its attempts to attract young women. Erelle an undercover journalist, posed as a 20-year-old Melody who just joined Islam. Abu Bilal, one of ISIS’ leaders greeted her, tried to recruit her through social media; he also proposed to marry her and invited her to live with him in Syria; then he provided Melody with a detailed plan to reach Syria through Istanbul and Amsterdam.

Breaking the stereotypical image of woman

According to Research Director at the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice Jane Huckerby, the biggest problem is that people consider that terrorism is against women and the West is the first and biggest defender of them. However, ISIS has broken this stereotypical perception by assigning women to implement terrorist operations like in the Notre dame Cathedral in Paris in September. Thus, women have become active cells in the extremist organizations.

Attracting Western women

In attracting western women, ISIS focuses on the familial factor and its importance as a principle condition to join the organization.

Attracting Arab women

Many Arab women have joined extremist groups and participated in the manufacture of weapons and bombings. For these women, the joining of such group is much easier when they have relatives who have pledged allegiance to ISIS.

Saudi Arabian media reported a woman, Khouloud al-Raqibi who recruited her brother and two sons to fight and carry out suicide bombings with ISIS.

These examples have reflected ISIS’ great capability and influence in recruiting women based on their social and psychological situations.