The Islamic State is dramatically increasing not only the visibility of women in its propaganda but also their participation in jihad, a report from the European Union’s police agency says.
In drawing that conclusion, the report from Europol details the integral role IS wants them to play in building that murderous organization, and how women are integrated into its terror attacks against the West.
Although IS propaganda says women must be covered head-to-toe and that their place is in the home, so to speak, it also recognizes that women play a crucial role in the subversive war against the West and the expansion of the caliphate.
The report’s summary explains it this way:
Women have become indispensable to IS, both in conflict areas and in the West (including in the European Union). They play their role in the organisation’s state-building enterprise, produce and disseminate propaganda and have seemingly been granted more proactive roles on the ‘battlefield.’ The worry is that this increase in the involvement of women could pave the way for potentially major changes in the role of jihadi women in the future.
The report details the rise of the jihadi woman. Though IS propaganda says a woman should only take on the role of a combatant in defense of the state, and then only when the conditions require her to do so, it does say women can and should be aggressors in non-Islamic states.
“While IS agrees that offensive jihad is not obligatory for women, it nevertheless encourages women to carry out attacks against the enemy,” the report says. A Finnish convert to Islam “urges ‘those people who cannot perform hijra [return to the caliphate] ... to attack the crusaders and their allies wherever you are,’” and “IS even portrays operations carried out by women (e.g. the San Bernardino attack in which a couple ‘aiding one another in righteousness and taqwa [piety]’ carried out the attack together) as more meritorious and commendable because of it not being obligatory. Husband and wife are both lauded as ‘martyrs.”
In 2017, the report notes, IS “explicitly called on women to become actively engaged in battles and released three almost consecutive issues of al-Naba,’” its propaganda magazine, “discussing and legitimising combative jihad for women.”
Indeed, the magazine said women are obliged to help wage jihad against the infidel:
[One issue] titled “The obligation of women in [waging] jihad against the enemy” opens with a sentence that implies equality between the sexes: “women are the sisters of men.” It continues: “how many a Muslim woman was not hindered by her weakness or her preoccupation with the bringing up of her children and obeying her husband from gaining the favour gained by the most complete of men.” The article explicitly states why women’s combative jihad is so paramount today, explaining that given the current situation and IS’ current “misfortune,’ “it has become an obligation for Muslim women to carry out their duty on all fronts in supporting [the male] mujahidin in this battle. They should count themselves as mujahidat in the cause of God, and prepare themselves to defend their religion with their [souls].”
A woman’s principal responsibility (and a central part of her jihad) is to be a good wife and mother. The group repeatedly emphasises the role of women as the bearers and carers of future jihadi generations. Their duty is to instil in their offspring a love of jihad and a yearning for martyrdom. Women are urged to encourage and motivate their husbands and sons to fight and to shame them if they do not comply.
But that isn’t possible if they contracept, IS says, which thus importunes women not to avoid procreation. They must marry young, and “bear as many children as possible for ‘with every Muslim newborn a thorn is planted in the throat of disbelief, and a dagger is shoved in the loin of polytheism.’”
As for contraception itself:
They are warned against using contraceptive methods for “contraception is but a disease brought by our enemies, so that the number of Muslims Decreases.” Delayed marriage is also presented as a “ruse” instigated by “the enemies of Islam ... who attempt to turn Muslim women away from their true role in this life: ... to serve the religion in whichever way they can, including by getting married, giving birth and raising [children].”
Be that as it may, the report warns that IS Muslimas are ready to die for the caliphate. The “female jihadis are as ideologically motivated as their male counterparts and their sense of empowerment lies in contributing to the building of an Islamic state,” Europol says. “They also seek martyrdom and divine compensation.”
An IS propagandist, the report says, warned thusly: “Let these Crusaders take heed, for just as the Khilafah [caliphate] is filled with men who love death more than the Crusaders love life, likewise are the women of the Islamic State.”
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