Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdad assigned Nada al-Qahtani, a female jihadi, to lead a battalion in Hasakah, located in northeast Syria.
Al-Qahtani joined the Islamic State in 2013. The terrorist group placed her in charge of the infamous al-Khansaa Brigade in Raqqa, known for terrorizing the streets and punishing any woman who defies Islamic State edicts. Activists described her as a woman with “strong character,” who also pushed women to encourage their husbands and sons to join the terrorist group.
An activist told Al Arabiya that she met with Baghdadi at least twice, as well as with other leaders. They moved her to Hasakah, where “she plays a prominent role on the level of communicating with foreign fighters.”
The activist and the outlet did not expand on al-Qahtani’s specific duties in Hasakah. They did not explain if her new group plans to mirror al-Khansaa’s actions in Raqqa.
The Islamic State established the al-Khansaa Brigade as a way to enforce Sharia law without having jihadis touch women, which violates their own law. The group made headlines in December 2014 when the group Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently reported that its women used torture devices on other women who disobey Sharia law. They use a bear trap called a “biter” on women’s breasts. It causes “severe pain and wounds [which] may lead women in some cases to be transported to the hospital.” A woman told the group the women used it on her when they caught her breastfeeding her baby in public.
A year later, another woman claimed the battalion mutilated and butchered a mother who breastfed her child in public.
“An [Isis] policewoman took the baby, gave it to another woman, and then killed the mother,” explained Aisha, who managed to escape the grips of ISIS after militants beheaded her husband in front of their child.
The mother attempted to shelter her son under her burqa while she hid under the tree, but she did not succeed in escaping the female al-Khansaa Brigade, which attacked her following the alleged exposition. Islamic State Twitter accounts reported that the women mutilated her before the execution because she violated “public purity.”
“I once saw a woman at a market and she lifted her niqab [face veil] to inspect the vegetables,” described Salih, 77. “An Isis policewoman saw her and beat her. She was bleeding so badly that she died on the way to hospital. I saw many things, but I would cry if I told you them all.”
In May, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College in London discovered that a feeling of “sisterhood” drew women to the group as much as finding a jihadist groom.
“Much has been made of romantic notions in motivating people to go, but we know that reality is very different,” said author Melanie Smith.
The report, “’Til Martyrdom Do Us Part,” states that over 550 women fled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. The statistic baffles many authorities, since Islamic State believes in strict Sharia law, which treats women like second-class citizens.