Women as Terrorists: Mothers, Recruiters, and Martyrs

Women as Terrorists: Mothers, Recruiters, and Martyrs

Women as Terrorists: Mothers, Recruiters, and Martyrs

Women as Terrorists: Mothers, Recruiters, and Martyrs

Synopsis

"Women as Terrorists: Mothers, Recruiters, and Martyrs" is the first post-September 11 book to examine women's multifarious roles in terrorist organizations of all stripes around the world. It covers political, religious, ethno-separatist, and Maoist groups in countries as diverse as Iraq, Palestine, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Colombia, South Africa, the Philippines, and Northern Ireland.

Modeling terrorist organizations as purposive organizations that depend for support, recruitment, and rationale on a culturally defined community of sympathizers, the authors explore why women become involved in terrorist groups, how terrorist leaders turn the societal attributes of women to advantage in designing terrorist campaigns, and how women fight for the right to assume strategic and combat roles in terrorist groups. The authors conclude with a review and projection of the rapidly evolving trends in the use of women in terrorist organizations, paying particular attention to al-Qaeda and its affiliated groups and considering the implications of their findings for counterterrorist strategies.

Excerpt

In the months following the 11 September 2001 attacks by al-Qa’ida on New York City’s World Trade Center and the Pentagon building in Virginia, two women counterterrorism experts became friends. These women each brought a unique background and experience to the friendship: one had spent significant time “in the field” as an academic researcher, particularly in the Middle East and Southeast Asia; the other had an extensive background in the U.S. government, and specifically the intelligence community, on counterterrorism issues. And so, through this friendship, these women began to challenge each other in their own work and daily lives. While some might view this friendship as unremarkable, women still do not have a strong presence in the U.S. academic or policy-making community on national security issues. To be honest, those women who are involved in national security tend to view each other suspiciously and competitively, rather than cooperatively. So it is fair to say that the friendship forged by these two women was both unique and remarkable.

This book, in many ways, is a product of that friendship. Women as Terrorists addresses the topic of women terrorists through the eyes of women counterterrorism experts. In the various chapters, readers will note both the horror and sympathy that we feel toward the victims of terrorist attacks. Indeed, one of the abiding characteristics of terrorism is that it affects a much wider collection of individuals than the attacks’ immediate victims. Having researched terrorism for many years, we cannot help but be affected by the tragedies experienced again and again by innocent people at the hands of terrorists and terrorist groups. Nevertheless, readers also will note a certain degree of empathy that we found for our research subjects as women who continuously attempted to find their place in the midst of male-dominated terrorist groups and even wider societal revolutions. In this sense, this book should be of interest to individuals—men and women who empathize with women’s . . .

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