by Soeren Kern
Great Britain is now the leading European source of female jihadists in Syria and Iraq.
As many as 60 Muslim women between the ages of 18 and 24 are believed to have left Britain to join the jihadist group Islamic State [IS] during the past twelve months alone, according to British terrorism analysts.
Dozens more have inquired about joining IS since the beheading of American journalist James Foley in Syria in August 2014 set off a frenzy of enthusiasm within jihadist circles.
Many of the women seem to be motivated by the hope of finding a jihadist husband, analysts say, apparently because they covet the cultural and religious “prestige” conferred upon Muslim widows whose husbands have died as “martyrs” for Allah.
Until recently, most of the British women affiliated with IS have been restricted to performing domestic chores such as cleaning and cooking. Lately, however, some women have become restive and have demanded a greater role in the IS enterprise.
Several British women are now engaged in IS recruiting efforts, using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to encourage a new wave of British jihadists to travel to Syria and Iraq.
A half-dozen other women have been incorporated into a female-only militia called the Al-Khansaa brigade, based in the Syrian city of Raqqa, where the IS has set up its headquarters.
Al-Khansaa—named after a seventh-century female Arab poet who was a contemporary of the Muslim Prophet Mohammed—was established in February 2014 with the purpose of exposing male enemy jihadists who try to disguise themselves by wearing women’s clothing in order to avoid detection and detention at IS checkpoints.
The brigade was also established to detain civilian women in Raqqa who do not follow the Islamic State’s strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, including the requirement that all women be fully covered in public and that they be accompanied by a male chaperone.
In an interview with the blog “Syria Deeply,” Abu Ahmad, an IS official in Raqqa, explained the rationale behind Al-Khansaa. He said:
“We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law. There are only women in this brigade, and we have given them their own facilities to prevent the mixture of men and women.”
British terrorism analyst Melanie Smith told the Daily Telegraph that Al-Khansaa is a Sharia law police brigade whose social media accounts are run by British women and written in English.
“The British women are some of the most zealous in imposing the IS laws in the region,” Smith said. “I believe that’s why at least four of them have been chosen to join the women police force.”
The Al-Khansaa brigade has now expanded its remit to operating brothels for the use of IS fighters. The result is that British female jihadists are now in charge of guarding as many as 3,000 non-Muslim Iraqi women and girls who are being held captive as sex slaves, according to British media.
“It is the British women who have risen to the top of the Islamic State’s Sharia police and now they are in charge of this operation,” another analyst told the Daily Mirror. “It is as bizarre as it is perverse.”…
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