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By Mark Brians. January 29, 2015 - 11:17 pm
A study published by the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) suggests that the women recruited by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are just as ideologically motivated as their male counterparts, even when they are not allowed to take part in active combat and are expected to keep house and bear children.
Even as ISIS began to rise in power, numerous reports and studies have alerted us to the fact that a noticeable amount of Western nationals were being recruited to join the radical organization.
Over the past year or so, Western nations have become increasingly aware of the fact attested to by Archbishop Justin Welby in a speech he gave in September to the House of Lords:
“We must face the fact that for some young Muslims the attractions of jihadism [sic] outweigh the materialism of a consumer society.”
According to the study, this is not just true of Muslim men.
Muslim women from moderate westernized families, who were raised in relatively stable environments such as Easton and Kent, whose twitter-feeds contain references to Disney films, are a significant number among the growing recruits joining the ISIS fighters.
The report firmly states that a major characterizing feature among the women recruited to the Islamic State is an accentuated approbation of the gruesomeness and cruelty exhibited by their fighters.
“They appear desensitized [sic] to the horrific nature of the violent acts being committed,” the report declares.
A primary source of information used by the researchers in the study was the recruited women’s social-media pages and blog sites on which videos of beheadings were praised, and threats to enemies of ISIS issued. Many of the women expressed their willingness and desire to take up arms or to conduct suicide bombings if the need arose.
The report concludes with the opinion that the threat posed by the recruitment of women is not the same as the one posed by men who join ISIS as fighters.
The recruitment of women has a lot to do with community morale and identity management. The influx of women who laud the deeds of the fighters, and who keep house, cook food, suture wounds, and bear children for them adds great strength to their cause. Moreover, the place of women in such a conflict adjusts the complexities of the battle. It blurs the once-easy definitions of oppressor and victim and transitions ISIS from a rogue military organization to a state-building enterprise.
The alliances that currently oppose ISIS are no longer pitted against ranks of keffiyeh-masked men, but against those who would be families. This makes the going-forward a much more difficult enterprise for all parties involved.
Photo courtesy of commons.wikimedia.org.