Mystery Surrounds Western Women Fighting For ISIS

Mystery Surrounds Western Women Fighting For ISIS
Photo Roberto Tumini / Unsplash

The profiles of women who have decided to fight alongside the ISIS are diverse, a report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue has found. There is no single profile that can define the characteristics of women traveling to Iraq and Syria, the report said.


The assumption that the almost 550 western women joining the ISIS have done so because of their desire to become jihadi brides is incorrect, author Erin Marie Saltman and Melanie Smith wrote.

Women joining ISIS have diverse personalities

There is no single profile that defines the women who are joining the ISIS, nor does a single motivation exist for these women. It is impossible to characterize them according to age, location, ethnicity, family relations or even religious backgrounds. While the twins from Britain and a trio of Australian women who have just recently joined the terrorist group were said to be in their youths, the report has found a Malaysian woman who was already a doctor.

Furthermore, “the assumption that females join ISIS primarily to become jihadi brides is reductionist and and above all, incorrect,” the report said.

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“Reasons for females travelling are multi-causal and include a broad range push and pull factors, different in their influential weight for each case,” the report stated.

The pull and push factors

One woman was possibly pushed to join ISIS because she feels socially or culturally isolated. Another may feel that the Muslim community is being persecuted while some may feel anger, frustration or sadness for the persecution of the Islamic World.

A woman joining the ISIS may also be pulled to an “idealistic goal of religious duty.” She may want to belong to a sisterhood and may have the romanticized idea of becoming a jihadist.

The role of female ISIS members is primarily to be good wives to their jihadist husbands and to bear children that will eventually become the next generation for jihadism. However, western women are usually tasked at disseminating propaganda and recruitment of other women through Internet chat rooms.

Read the full report: ‘Till Martyrdom Do Us Part’ Gender and the ISIS Phenomenon

Also read: ISIS Performs Harrowing Virginity Tests, Breast Measurement On Women Captives

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