A profile article about Gaza on the Foreign Policy website today offers an oddly-disconnected look at how women are used by the Islamist terror groups:
Throughout Gaza, armed groups have stepped up their recruitment. Now, each one — including Hamas’s Qassam Brigades and Palestinian Islamic Jihad — has a female contingent. No one knows exactly how many female fighters there are in Gaza, but the Nasser Salahuddin Brigade boasts 80 female combatants working in 25-women units. Each unit has female commanding officers, who answer to a male superior... "We fit the training around our domestic chores," said Hadifa, 26, her face obscured by a niqab, while cuddling an assault rifle during a midnight meeting at her Gaza City home. She said the women are trained to use sniper rifles, AKs, RPGs, M16s, and also how to drive cars through war zones, how to fight with a knife, and most recently how to capture an Israeli soldier in battle... It is not hard to see why they would be a military asset: Women have an easier time moving around war zones, due to the presumption that they are civilians. As a result, they can deliver weapons and food to fighters on the front lines with less risk than their male counterparts.There's not one mention of the word "terror" in its various permutations in this article, though it's all about Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The jihadists are repeatedly called "combatants", "fighters", "military asset", in an article replete with references to their participation in "armed resistance". In this sense, it illustrates again how a deeply cynical strategy like that of Hamas, keeping its subjects in conditions of maximum misery. depriving them of the benefits of the foreign aid inflows that make Palestinian Arabs the most-heavily-funded target group in history, pays significant dividends, particularly when there are sympathetic or dumb-as-a-boot reporters in the vicinity. This piece quotes a nameless Gazan woman, a mother, saying that:
Gaza residents see armed resistance as one of the only ways to take control of their lives. "Gaza is a tomb; we are dead anyway," she said, helping her injured son out of his wheelchair. "Either you die pointlessly and slowly, or quickly with purpose."That sounds like it could have been lifted from an Islamist kill-the-unbelievers sermon.
Another prominent female political figure, holding up a sadly pointless placard for the cameras, with a handwritten appeal to "#BringBackOurGirls", famously framed their plight in terms that seemed to many (us included) to have missed the real point completely. The tragedy of the Nigerian girls, in Michelle Obama's words, was an "unconscionable" effort by
"a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education – grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls... In these girls, Barack and I see our own daughters. We see their hopes, their dreams..."but not a single mention of the words Boko Haram, for the terrorists who openly took credit, or Islam or Islamist, in whose name they acted (see the official text of her speech).
Could be its a matter of semantics, and that Mrs Obama really sees the Nigerian atrocities as being about missed educational opportunities. It could also be that being unwilling or unable to face up to the ideological platform on which men who seize girls act ensures such hideous things will keep happening.
- "At least 2,000 women have been abducted by Boko Haram, detained in prisons and houses and subjected to forced marriage, stonings and sexual slavery, according to a report that berates Nigeria’s “dismal” security situation. The Amnesty International report – based on more than 150 witness accounts – charges the Islamist militants with the deaths of more than 5,500 civilians and paints the most detailed picture yet of the oppression inflicted upon young women... Soon after taking control of a town, militants implemented restrictions of movement, particularly on women, the report says. Failure to attend daily prayers was punishable by public flogging." ["Boko Haram 'has abducted, raped and enslaved 2,000 women in reign of terror'", The Independent UK, today]
- "Up to 40 Australian women have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting militant groups, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said. She said an increasing number of women were going to Syria and Iraq to join husbands fighting with Islamic State (IS) or to marry a militant... Australian officials are worried about the effect of returnees, and on those who support them, on domestic security. Ms Bishop said that women accounted for nearly one-fifth of all foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, but that it "defied logic" that women would join groups such as IS." ["Dozens of Australian women 'supporting terrorism'", BBC, February 26, 2015]
- "From Denver to Vienna, "Caliphettes" – young girls pledging their support to Isil’s so called "Caliphate" on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr – are escaping to marry Jihadis in Syria. And most recently, Hayat Boumeddiene, the wife of one of the perpetrators of the recent terrorist atrocities in Paris, is the most wanted terror suspect in the world today... the spectre of radicalised Western women streaming to the battlegrounds of Syria should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Isil’s highly sophisticated, tech savvy radicalisation and recruitment machinery. They deploy peer-to-peer, in this case girl-to-girl, marketing strategies, Twitter amplification apps, iconic memes, gaming imagery and go-pro footage from the field..." ["The female face of terror", The Telegraph UK, January 28, 2015]
- "Two women and self-declared “citizens of the Islamic State” were arrested Thursday in connection to a plot to detonate homemade bombs in the United States. Noelle Velentzas and Asia Siddiqui, both of Queens, N.Y., were charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction against “persons or property” in the United States..." ["2 Women Arrested in New York for ISIS-Inspired Terror Plot" [TIME Magazine, April 2, 2015]
- "Women have long been involved in terror of all stripes, from female neo-Nazis in Europe to Chechen “black widow” suicide bombers. Indeed, despite stereotypes about their domesticity and passivity... women are drawn to groups like the Islamic State by many of the same forces as men: adventure, inequality, alienation and the pull of the cause. Once there, they commit violence against other women, including as part of all-female brigades enforcing female morality codes requiring modest dress and sex segregation. They operate checkpoints and go on home raids; they are also reportedly recruiters, trainers of female suicide bombers, wives and homemakers, fund-raisers and propagandists. They also help sanitize the group’s image by posting photos of themselves drinking milkshakes on Instagram and writing chatty, lighthearted tweets... The West’s inability to appreciate the role that women play in terror should come under the highest scrutiny... ["When Women Become Terrorists", Jayne Huckerby, NYTimes, January 21, 2015]
that the killing of our daughter in August 2001 at the hands of another overtly-Islamist terror group - Hamas - was unconscionable. And yes, it cheated Malki of her education. And certainly it destroyed her hopes and dreams. But it was principally about murder and especially about hatred. Did it bring anguish into our lives? Oh yes, and it's an anguish that grows as we see well-informed people who fail to comprehend the nature of attacks like the one that targeted Jewish children in a Jerusalem pizza store, and like the one that targeted Nigerian girls in their school. Excising the Islamist dimension from their understanding of what is happening dooms some of the most influential people in our societies to continue seriously misapprehending the goals of Hamas, of Boko Haram and of the rising tide of terrorism-addicted savages with Islamist passion in their hearts. Ultimately, we all pay a price for this, and it's unconscionably heavy.