18 May 2015
The self-styled Islamic State’s (IS) conception of a caliphate, which accords women a significant role in building and sustaining a state, has mobilised a large number of female supporters and sympathisers to Iraq and Syria from the West. Why is this so?
In the last few years there has been an unprecedented flow of Islamist foreign fighters to conflict zones in Syria and Iraq. A significant portion of these supporters, sympathisers and fighters of the self-styled Islamic State comprises women. Around 3,000 individuals, including 550 women, have travelled to conflict zones from the West. No jihadist conflict in the past has seen such a large mobilisation of women. Women from the West in particular, who used to stay away from such conflicts, have been particularly involved.
The unparallelled flow of female fighters joining the ranks of IS gives rise to two questions: Firstly, why do females have a bigger role in the IS jihad model; and secondly, what are the factors that have mobilised large numbers of female from the Western countries? Two variables in this scenario are worth considering: demand factors and the broader appeal of the so-called caliphate.
… Sara Mahmood is a research analyst with the International Centre for Political Violence and Terrorism Research (ICPVTR) at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
ICPVTR / Online
Last updated on 18/11/2015