16 June 2015
THREE American women were arrested last month for terrorism-related activities in connection with the Islamic State (IS): two in New York and the third from Philadelphia. Besides these three, 550 women from several Western countries are reported to have travelled to Iraq and Syria to join the IS ranks. This suggests that IS has managed to win a significant following among many young Muslim women in the West.
Another significant phenomenon is that many of these women are educated, come from middle-class families, are well-integrated in their societies and have similar socio-economic backgrounds, such as the four British Muslim women who had covertly travelled to Syria to join IS.
These examples belie the longheld assumption that young persons from impoverished backgrounds have a higher chance of being influenced and radicalised by IS’ brand of violent extremism. In fact, research has shown that IS supporters and sympathisers, regardless of gender, tend to be welleducated, young, savvy with social media and socially mobile. Why does IS appeal to this demographic?
… The writer is a research analyst at the Centre of Excellence for National Security, a constituent unit of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.
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Last updated on 16/11/2015