In Defense of Honor: Women and Terrorist Recruitment on the Internet

Until today there have been no women in the core leadership of Al Qaeda (Al Qaeda al
Sulba). While the organization is frequently described as patriarchal and exclusive of
women, women are among its most fervent supporters. A significant recent development
in women’s participation in violent extremism has been the dissemination of radical
ideologies online as recruiters and propagandists. In particular, online female recruiters
shame men to enlist in jihad by demanding that they protect their sisters in Islam from
sexual trespass, particularly by male non-believers. In addition to propagandists, a new
generation of jihadi leaders is looking to women to ensure the survival of the
organization by devising new religious justifications that would allow women to
participate in violent jihadist activities. An ideological schism over women’s
participation in jihad reflects a generational shift within the movement as well as
differences between the core of Al Qaeda and its regional affiliates globally.

Tags: Al-Qaeda, Forums, Gender, Recruitment, Social Media