- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The bogus “war on women” is so 2012.

What’s hot now? The “war with women.”

The barbaric Islamic State is recruiting so many Western women that it could read like a Craigslist ad: “Men seeking women: Must love jihad.”

Since the Islamic State, also called ISIS, broke out, seizing large tracts of territory in Iraq and Syria, we’ve heard all manner of grim news, from its $3 million per day oil revenue to its executions of two Americans and one Briton so far while inspiring copycat atrocities from Algeria to Oklahoma.

The jihad — carried out by the Islamic State, al Qaeda, the Khorasans, Hamas, Hezbollah, Boko Haram, Islamic Jihad, Ansar al-Shariah, al-Nusra Front, the Muslim Brotherhood and countless others — is everywhere.

Male jihadis, not exactly known for their Leonardo DiCaprio way with women, have now realized that if their mission to spread Islam by the sword and install Shariah globally is to succeed, they’re going to need the ladies.

In the past, militants have welcomed the support of women as mothers who sacrifice their children as suicide bombers, as propagandists, and as covers for terrorist activity when authorities closed in.

Now, however, male terrorists are working their limited powers of seduction on Western women to actively join the jihad — as incubators of the next generation of fighters, as social media queens and as operatives in the field.

According to counterterrorism reports, hundreds of young women and girls are leaving their homes in the West to join Islamic terrorists in the Middle East. Estimates are that they appear to make up about 10 percent of those leaving Europe, North America and Australia to hook up with jihadi groups.

In the United States, a 19-year-old Somali woman from St. Paul, Minn., snuck away from her parents on Aug. 25 saying she was going to a bridal shower, according to Reuters. Instead, she flew to Turkey and joined the Islamic State in Syria. At least one other woman is suspected of helping her leave the country.

Another young woman, Shannon Conley, 19, of Colorado, had been recruited online and became engaged to an ISIS jihadi in Syria. She was arrested in April at Denver International Airport with a one-way ticket and pleaded guilty last month for trying to travel to the region to join the terrorist organization.

France, meanwhile, has the dubious distinction of having the greatest number of Western female jihadi recruits, with 63 in the region and at least an additional 60 thought to be preparing to go.

According to French Foreign Minister Bernard Cazeneuve, five people were arrested in France in September, suspected of taking part in a recruitment ring targeting young French women.

Across the Channel in the United Kingdom, counterterrorism experts think about 50 British girls and women (mostly ages 16 to 24) have joined the Islamic State. Researchers at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at Kings College London have identified some of them. Many hold college degrees and have left behind their own families to start new ones with male jihadis.

In one particularly notorious case, a former British housewife, Samantha Lewthwaite, joined ISIS this year and is considered one of its most valuable assets. Known as the “Special One” or the “White Widow,” Lewthwaite has been the world’s most-wanted woman since 2013. She is reportedly now training an all-woman army of suicide bombers for the Islamic State.

In Germany, many teenage girls are also being radicalized. At least 40 women have left Germany to join the terrorists. The youngest is reportedly 13 years old.

In addition to using these young women as “baby factories” to populate the new caliphate, ISIS fighters have also been using some of them at checkpoints to monitor other women for weapons and Shariah compliance.

The main concern for U.S. and Western law enforcement is that these women may one day return to attack targets here at home.

As concerned as we should be about the unique threat these women pose, however, our attention should be equally focused on the true heroines in this war.

Maj. Mariam al-Mansouri, the United Arab Emirates’ first female fighter pilot, led the mission when the United States began allied airstrikes over Syria. Maj. al-Mansouri served in the UAE’s army before becoming a female Top Gun.

“I feel proud, especially that I am part of the first batch. And that encourages me to continue in this field,” she said, even as reports surfaced that her family renounced her for “taking part in the brutal international aggression” against Syria.

She’s not alone: scores of Kurdish women have joined her on the ground in the fight.

That’s real courage.

Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE’s ambassador to the United States, praised Maj. al-Mansouri, saying she and her country represent the role women should play in the Muslim world: “Do you want a model of a society that allows women to become ministers in government … fighter pilots, business executives, artists,” he said, “or do you want a society where, if a woman doesn’t cover up in public, she’s beaten or she’s lashed or she’s raped?” Mr. Otaiba said. “I mean, this is ultimately what this breaks down to.”

Precisely.

So while we fight the women who have joined the jihad, let’s celebrate the ones who are brave enough to fight against them, with us, on the side of civilization.

Monica Crowley is online opinion editor at The Washington Times.

This column was updated to include an attribution for factual information gleaned from Reuters.

 

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