Female Radicalization: A Case of ISIS

The most aggressive and ruthless terrorist group of the twenty-first century, with whom they have a strong connection, poses a significant challenge in considering giving these individuals a second chance. These young women, who express deep remorse for their past choices and seek an opportunity to begin anew, have sparked a contentious discussion among politicians, scholars, and society as a whole. The accounts of Shamima Begum, who wishes to return to the UK after spending four years with ISIS, and Hoda Muthana, who also left her American home in 2014 to marry an ISIS fighter, have received extensive media coverage. Unfortunately, the Syrian civil war is still ongoing, and the stories of individuals who once left their homes to join ISIS as foreign fighters and jihadi brides, and who now seek to return to their countries of origin, are widely reported in the media.

It is vital to ask ourselves why these women choose to join extreme groups and travel to war zones as an alternative to living in a state with democratic values and freedom. It is important to have a deeper knowledge on the topic, which begins with the reasons why they have left in the first place. There are supposedly many more debates on whether these girls should or should not be allowed to return, considering the belief that they were intentionally and knowingly motivated by a true terrorist narrative to join jihad in ISIS. Some argue that the role of women in ISIS is underestimated, while others argue in favor of rehabilitating and granting permission for those who speak in favor of Ones’ exoneration and for revoking citizenship. British society is divided between those who argue for their return and those who argue for revoking citizenship.

The journey to Daesh begins with radicalization, which is a quite complex concept itself. Various scholars have come up with possible explanations for this phenomenon. However, there is no overarching rationale that can explain everything under one umbrella. The history demonstrates that radicalization of women is a unique problem. For instance, there were female fighters in different parts of the world, such as the armed wing of Hamas, the Red Army Faction in Germany, the Red Brigade in Italy, the “Black Widows” phenomenon in Chechnya, and the Tamil Tigers Liberation of Eelam in Sri Lanka. According to statistics from 2013, approximately 15% of travelers to Syria were women. A report presented by the International Civil Society Action Network emphasizes that out of the 41,490 foreigners affiliated with ISIS, 13% or 4,761 were women. One country, France, has the largest number of female jihadists, accounting for 30% of them. For example, in the Netherlands, more than 50 women gave birth and traveled to Syria, while at least 56 women left their country to join ISIS. The share of women fluctuates between 20% and 30% in Germany, depending on the year. These statistics illustrate why we need to understand why females from Western countries join radicals, as this issue deserves our attention and understanding.

Comprehending the factors why…

1.”Jihadi brides”.

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ISIS is able to give birth to the ability of weaponizing women. In order to produce as many females as possible, they need stability and a sense of statehood. Therefore, it is important for ISIS to portray itself as a state, in order to gain stability and grow. This phenomenon is very connected to the traditional understanding of women’s roles as mothers and wives in Islamic countries. Moreover, women find heroism in the actions of ISIS members, which is why they are attracted to marry a “hero” who is not afraid to sacrifice his life. A study by the Centre for International Radicalization revealed that these women are not attracted to the idea of marrying someone back home, which raises the question of why they seek personal partnerships. Logically, they are attracted to the lure of marriage meaning and the idea of traveling to support ISIS. Winterbortham and Pearson support this rationale and suggest that the term “jihadi bride” fits exactly into Shamima Begum’s case. They are not viewed as fighters themselves, but rather as ISIS wives who fulfill assigned roles and live under ISIS governance. The term “Daesh” suggests that they travel to become ISIS wives and fulfill assigned roles under ISIS governance.

2. Individuals influenced by propaganda.

Being part of a collective they have never been included in, they receive a beckoning from the concept of ‘sisterhood’. ISIS is merely another nation, where women find solace in hearing a feminine voice from the opposing side. Dabiq magazine, the publication of ISIS, features columns written by women, attracting female recruits through popular social media platforms. It presents an alluring vision of a utopian existence, thereby idealizing an artistic lifestyle under ISIS. Deliberately crafted propaganda serves as a significant factor why women from the Western world abandon their previous lives in pursuit of new beginnings, among other motives.

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3. Seeking a fresh start.

In Syria, Colleen LaRose’s new beginning is evident as she has taken the time to travel to a different setting, giving us a hint that sometimes women who have been exposed to bad treatment and abuses in their motherlands are willing to try and find a clear page somewhere else. However, it is no longer enjoyable nor mentally challenging for people to hold significant positions, and the attributes of democracy such as freedom of speech and rule of law have become secondary. Another possible explanation is that people who have been badly treated in their “previous life” and want a second chance may be more susceptible to extremist propaganda.

4. Addressing the issue of identity crisis.

It is known that Aqsa Mahmood, a young Scottish girl, left Syria and romanticized her future. Winterbortham and Pearson argue that joining ISIS can possibly be a significant source of vulnerability, as younger women may be trained by radicals to prey on their uncertain futures and identity crises in order to find answers.

5. Contradiction of liberty.

The English language has been inverted and is the most uncomfortable and excluded from surroundings, and the possible looks unpleasant that she will receive if a Muslim woman wears a hijab. Men feel discriminated and marginalized just like in the Input paragraph.

6. Self-sufficient, logical decision.

Proponents of this side argue that black people are not allowed to be strict. They are naturally attracted to the ideology of ISIS, even without extensive brainwashing. They believe that living under Sharia is the rightest thing and it would not be possible in Western countries. When they are dominated and told how to act and what to do, they naturally enjoy being submissive while others reject values associated with the West, such as feminism. A case of a foiled terrorist attack solely planned by an all-female ISIS cell serves as an example in the British Museum. They are not only trained to become terrorists but also give birth to and marry children of Daesh militants. They are important figures in the game of jihad, fulfilling assigned roles, and they feel that their presence matters. Some genuinely believe in ISIS narratives, including both men and women who want to help its reach. Supporters of this view argue for granting these women a chance to return and claim that they are victims. On one hand, women who have been misled and brainwashed are viewed as jihadi, a dangerous territory to travel to.

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The dilemma faced by returnees struggling with the policy of employing individual psychology experts and polygraphs to analyze each case separately. The case of Syrian conflict illustrates that women are radicalized due to social and personal dynamics, unrelated to living in a welfare country. The choice to prefer war abroad over peace at home is probably influenced by subconscious and ideological factors where people want to feel contended. The decision is not about a better lifestyle or employment opportunities that a country provides, but rather about context-specific meaning for religious expression, emotions, and brainwashing. It is not easy to generalize why people leave their homes and fall into radicalization, as the issue itself is complex and wide-ranging.

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