London, Asharq Al-Awsat – The jihadist media has moved to publish a new magazine that is concerned with women jihadists. Observers have said that the objective of the publication of the “Al-Shamikha” magazine, which translates as “The Majestic Woman”, is to promote Islamic values among women, in addition to fashion and beauty tips. This magazine has been dubbed the ‘Jihad Cosmo” in some quarters after the well-known Cosmopolitan style magazine.
This is the first jihadist magazine of its kind aimed solely at women, and follows on the heels of Al Qaeda publishing the English language “Inspire” e-magazine which aims to radicalize young Muslims living in the West. This online publication is thought to be the work of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen of Yemeni descent who was the spiritual guide to at least two of the 9/11 hijackers, and has ties to the Ford Hoot shooting and other terrorist crimes. The Inspire e-magazine is much like any internet publication in terms of style and production, but includes an “exclusive” interview with al-Awlaki, who is on the Yemeni government’s most wanted list, as well as a message from Osama Bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri. The magazine also articles such as “How to make a bomb in the kitchen’ and “Destroying buildings.” This magazine was reported published by the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula [AQAP] organization.
As for the “Al-Shamikha” magazine, this mixes “skin-care tips” with advice on “marrying a mujahedeen” and also includes articles written by martyrs’ wives who praise their husband’s decisions to die in a suicide attack and call on other wives to encourage their husbands to walk the path to jihad and martyrdom. This e-magazine was published by the Al-Fajr Media Center, Al Qaeda’s official online media provider.
The magazine’s preface includes a word from the “Al-Shamikha” editors who explain the reason for the publication of a magazine aimed solely at women, saying “because women constitute half of the population – and one might even say that they are [all] the population since they give birth to the next generation – the enemies of Islam are bent on preventing the Muslim woman from knowing the truth about her religion and her role, since they know all too well what would happen if women entered the field of jihad…The national of Islam needs women who know the truth about their religion and about the battle and its dimensions and know what is expected of them.”
This magazine represents an overhaul in the manner that Al Qaeda is attempting to radicalize sections of the youth, although this is not the first time that Al Qaeda has targeted women in a particular manner. Over the past years, Al Qaeda media has issued a number of articles and pamphlets targeting women, mostly written under pseudonyms.
In 2004, Al Qaeda launched the “Al-Khansaa” magazine which was reportedly founded by Abdul Aziz al-Muqrin shortly before his death. This magazine offered advice on first aid, how to raise children to believe in Jihad, as well as practical training fro women to prepare for combat. This magazine was referenced in the preface of the “Al-Shamikha” magazine, with the editors saying that they intended to attract women from all segments of society, as well as deal with lighter topics such as beauty, health care, and etiquette. The “Al-Shamikha” magazine also includes a section on child-care.
The magazine includes the name of an Editor-in-Chief, a head of security and communications, and a senior editor, which are almost certainly pseudonyms. Al Qaeda has not forgotten the importance or influence of the media, and the objective of this magazine is to inflame emotions and give rise to feelings of revenge and violence. This can be seen by one particular article in this first issue of the “Al-Shamikha” magazine, namely an interview with the widow of an Al Qaeda fighter, who spoke about her daily life and how she informed her children that their father had been killed, stressing the role of women in a mujahedeen’s life.