MOSCOW, September 7 (RIA Novosti) - As fear sweeps the international world regarding the rising number of westerners joining the Islamic State (IS) terrorizing Syria and northern Iraq, British women are being recruited and joining IS militants abroad, the Guardian reported on Saturday.
“There is a stronger pull now Baghdadi has called for all women to come,” said Melanie Smith from King’s College International Centre for the Study of Radicalization as quoted by the newspaper.
While exact numbers are unknown, numbers of western recruits are on the rise as IS militants conquer more land adding to territory under the jihadists group’s caliphate. Smith estimates some 200 of the 500 Britons who have travelled to Syria to join IS are women, according to the Guardian. Intense identification with Muslim sufferings abroad, combined with anger concerning British foreign policy towards Muslims, are being used to give the impression that the Ummah, the worldwide community of Muslims, is under attack, and requires defending.
“The girls are getting younger,” she says, claiming girls are typically 19 or 20 years old. The women emigrating now, she says, “are going for adventure, just like the young men.”
Through tracking of social media accounts, Smith has found that women are now being lured to join the jihadists through social media, attracting a younger and more modern crowd. Those already settled in Syria encourage others to marry an IS militant and move to the war-torn country.
Sasha Havlicek, from the Institute of Strategic Dialogue, says UK women play an important role in the jihadist group’s “brilliant” online recruiting process by posting photos from the warfront beside “cuddly and fuzzy” propaganda such as pictures of kittens playing on Kalashnikovs, the Guardian reported.
“The profile is very mixed across Europe. In the UK, many come from second-generation families from south Asia, because that’s the biggest Muslim community here. They are school leavers and a couple of university students,” says Smith.
While most women from Europe emigrate in groups, most British women are making the trip alone.
“I will be straight up … there is absolutely nothing for sisters to participate in Qitaal [fighting] … No amalia istishihadiya (martyrdom operations) or a secret sisters katiba [battalions]. These are all rumors,” Aqsa Mahmood, a former radiography student from Glasgow, wrote on her blog addressing questions concerning women’s participation in fighting.
Though younger women are motivated to fight, tradition forces women to spend most of their time indoors functioning as housewives expected to keep house and bring up a new generation “for the sake of Allah.”
Brown says young Muslim women can be kept from emigrating and joining jihadists in Syria if government policies in the UK had women’s interests and safety in mind. Brown said, “If you think no one in the political system looks after your interest, why would you listen to them?”
The Islamic State is a Sunni group that was involved in fighting the government forces in Syria before launching an offensive in Iraq in June. Later that month, IS announced the establishment of an Islamic caliphate on all territories it had conquered.