Al-Qaeda (AQ) has long used female suicide bombers and has even formed an all-female jihadi fighting force trained in using heavy weaponry in battle, but now, the terrorist group is lambasting its rival Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) for exploiting women to carry out terrorist attacks in the same manner.
Both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are guilty of recruiting women, sometimes by force, to engage in jihad, lone wolf attacks, and more recently, members of all-female jihadi fighting units, trained to use heavy weapons and fight in battles.
There have been recent Islamic State-linked lone wolf arrests and incidents involving women in Paris and Kenya. In response, al-Qaeda is criticizing its rival’s use of women in launching terrorist attacks.
The Foreign Desk (FD) reports:
In a publication by Al Qaeda’s media arm Al Malahem entitled “Inspire Guide: Comment on arresting our Muslims sisters in France,” the group urges its followers to carry out so-called ‘lone wolf’ attacks in France but warns against the involvement of women in these attacks.
The AQ-linked publication declared:
In accordance with this incident, we guide and advice [sic] our mujahideen brothers in the west not to allow our Muslim sisters to participate in any lone jihad operation. All this, to preserve our virtuous Muslim sisters’ honor, and to perceive that our intention from jihad is, to preserve and protect the honor of our Muslim sisters from any aggressor.
For AQ, it appears that suicide bombings are acceptable, but “any lone jihad operation” is not.
An all-female fighting force, Burkha Brigade, was formed in 2012 by the Afghanistan-based core AQ — trained to shoot heavy weaponry, including machine guns, assault rifles, and rocket-propelled grenades, against U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan.
Then in January 2015, the Pakistan-based al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS) established its women’s suicide wing known as the al-Qaeda Shaheen Force (AQS). The group reportedly has 500 women suicide bombers in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.
Soon after its formation, Pakistani authorities foiled a terror attack by the AQIS unit, and public information about the group has since gone silent. The U.S.-led coalition did dismantle a couple of AQ training camps in Afghanistan in October 2015, but news reports earlier this year said AQ was active and growing.
In a pamphlet seeking to recruit women, the AQIS female jihadi fighting unit went as far as urging:
All the Muslim women of the world should raise their children to love Jihad and die in the cause of Allah. Besides helping to preserve the Mujahedeen and raise their children in the best way, women could go the extra mile and participate themselves in martyrdom missions as suicide bombers.
Both al-Qaeda and the Islamic State have been using women to carry out lone wolf attacks, suicide bombings, and more recently, all-female jihadi fighting units.
The Islamic State has also been using its Sharia police force, the al-Khansaa Brigade, in some parts of its so-called Caliphate of Iraq and Syria since February 2014. The brigade has been primarily charged with imposing harsh punishments — torture and even brutal killings — for violations of the radical version of Sharia law imposed by the Islamic State.
The Islamic State all-female Sharia police force, which attracted many recruits from the West, is notorious for administering “savage beatings” and “forcing children as young as nine to marry.”
It remains unclear whether the Islamic State expanded the use of the al-Khansaa Brigade beyond Iraq and Syria. Some analysts believe similar groups may have been established elsewhere, namely in Libya.
In February, The Times reported that the Islamic State had been using both female fighters and women suicide bombers in Libya, marking the first time the jihadist group used women combatants in the North African country. That move came nearly a year after AQ formed its all-girl fighting battalion in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
Also in February, al-Khansaa Brigade’s former chief Nada al-Qahtani was appointed by Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself to lead Syria’s first all-female fighting unit in Hasakah.
“The ideological similarities between al-Qaida and the Islamic State are far greater than the differences, unsurprising considering one is an offshoot of the other,” opines the Brookings Institution.
Some jihadi recruiting campaigns are focused on providing an alternative to women who consider themselves incapable of getting Mr. Right, identified as a jihadi. Those women are urged to become martyrs (suicide bombers) for the Islamist cause, with the promise that doing so will guarantee them everlasting “security, safety and happiness.”
Even when it comes to becoming a martyr, it appears Muslim women are promised a second-class prize.
While the continued use and effectiveness of all-female fighting jihadi units remains unclear, some analysts believe such groups will never eclipse the overall combatant role for women most favored by misogynist Islamist terrorists: suicide bomber.
“While Muslim women, dressed as males, have in the past fought alongside Islamist militants, the creation of an all-female fighting force adds a new twist in the escalating use of women combatants by al-Qaeda, the Taliban and other Islamist terror groups in the region,” notes Frontpage Mag.