Thursday, September 03, 2009

"Terror`s stealth weapon: women"

LINK

From the Los Angeles Times:

Terror's stealth weapon: women
By Mia Bloom, MIA BLOOM is the author of "Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror" (Columbia University Press, 2005). A longer version of this article appeared in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
November 29, 2005

Terror's stealth weapon: women
By Mia Bloom, MIA BLOOM is the author of "Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror" (Columbia University Press, 2005). A longer version of this article appeared in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists.
November 29, 2005

Quote:

SAJIDA RISHAWI shocked the world when she appeared on Jordanian television and admitted her role in the plot to blow up a wedding at a hotel in Amman on Nov. 9. Her monotone speech and lack of emotion sparked an instant debate regarding the growing role of female terrorists and suicide bombers.

The stereotype exploited by terrorists is that women are gentle, submissive and nonviolent. Women evade most terrorist profiles because they are perceived as wives and mothers, victims of war-torn societies, not bombers. But terrorist organizations are increasingly employing women to carry out the most deadly attacks.

Based on my study of suicide bombings in Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Israel and the occupied territories, Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt and Iraq, 34% of attacks since 1985 have been carried out by women.

The use of the least-likely suspect is an obvious tactical adaptation for a terrorist group under scrutiny. Female operatives not only better penetrate a crowd of civilians because women are assumed to be noncombatants, they get more publicity than their male counterparts. And using women can mobilize greater numbers of operatives by shaming men into participating. "I am going to fight instead of the sleeping Arab armies who are watching Palestinian girls fighting alone," said Ayat Akras in the martyrdom video she taped before she blew herself up in Israel in 2002.

In the past, women's primary contribution to suicide terrorism was to give birth to fighters, to raise them in a revolutionary environment and to praise them after their deaths. Women are now taking a leading role of their own -- using their bodies as human detonators for the explosive material strapped around their waists. To complicate the notions of femininity and motherhood, the explosive device is often disguised under a bomber's clothing to make her appear pregnant and thus even further beyond suspicion. Female suicide bombers have transformed the revolutionary womb into an exploding one.

Initially, only secular groups employed women. Islamist organizations such as Islamic Jihad refused female operatives. A Palestinian suicide volunteer named Dareen abu Aisheh blew herself up in 2002 on behalf of a secular organization after having being turned away by her first choice, Hamas, according to her relatives. That changed after the second war in Chechnya, when in 2002 the so-called Black Widows took a leading role in bombing Russian concert halls, hotels and trains. Women have now been used in suicide bombings throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Pakistan and Colombia.

Al Qaeda, the last holdout, initiated a special website in August 2004, calling on women to persuade their men to take up the jihad. The pretty pink website, which included beauty tips, did not call on women to become bombers. Nevertheless, women affiliated with Al Qaeda began blowing themselves up within the year.