Cheering on the Jihad: An Exploration of Women’s Participation in Online Pro-jihadist Networks

With the rise of the Islamic State (IS), a great deal of attention has recently been drawn to two issues that have come to be seen as intricately linked: the role of women within pro-jihadist networks (Lahoud 2014; Hoyle, Bradford and Frenett 2015; Saltman and Smith 2015) and the use of social media as an indoctrination and recruitment tool by terrorist organizations (Weimann 2008; Bloom 2013; Klausen 2015). The present working paper is an attempt at improving our understanding of women’s participation in online jihadist networks through examination of the nature and scope of their activities within pro-IS and pro-AQ Twitter networks. To explore that participation, we look at women’s activities online through two different methodological lenses: a. by looking at gender in relation to female tweeting patterns; and b. by examining the content of women’s posts within and across two distinct pro-jihadist networks, one associated with IS, and the other comprised of women from various al-Qaeda (AQ)-affiliated groups.

Tags: Al-Qaeda, Gender, ISIS, Social Media, Violent Jihadism