Wooing the jihadi brides

Sumayah Fatani examines Islamic State’s recruiting strategies for women

The World Today Updated 24 November 2020 Published 9 February 2017 3 minute READ

Sumayah Fatani

Researcher, Contemporary Political Thought Unit, King Faisal Centre for Research and Islamic Studies, Riyadh

A surprising number of women have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The Soufan Group estimated in 2014 that 18 per cent of European volunteers were women. There are no official numbers for women from Arab countries, but one can estimate a similar, if not higher percentage.

Islamic State propagandists have different approaches to women of different geographic and cultural backgrounds. Emphases vary between nods towards religious legitimacy – Islamic State as a revived caliphate – and emphasis on resistance, portraying the group as an heir to the revolutionary movements of eras past. In doing so, propagandists have created a communications strategy that crosses the boundaries of nation, ideology and class.

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