Islamic Balkans Failing to Counter ISIS’s Appeal to Women. (Balkan insight)
Belgrade think tank says Balkan states must understand the reality of Islamic State’s appeal to Muslim women - if they want to stem to outflow of women there.
Women from the Western Balkans and elsewhere are as attracted to the Islamic State as much as men, a paper published by the Belgrade Centre for Security Policy think tank, says.
The presence of women in the Islamic State is dangerous—although women currently do not participate in violent jihad, they are responsible for raising the next generation of jihadists, for performing professional functions while the men engage in violent jihad, and for the recruitment of more individuals to populate the caliphate.
Women who migrate tend to feel marginalized in the societies where they live, and also may have psychological problems, which will only be exacerbated by their experiences in the Islamic State.
While violent extremist groups are often thought to be the domain of men, the numbers of wom en migrating to Syria and Iraq from the Western Balkans and around the world are proving otherwise.
As numbers of foreign fighters traveling from the Western Balkans to Islamic State-held territory
continue to increase, there is a corresponding problem of women from the Western Balkans being recruited to join the Islamic State.
Current evidence shows that there are visible numbers of women who have already migrated — in particular, from Bosnia-Herzegovina (36), Kosovo (42), and Albania (13-29). Estimates show that around 10-15% of total Islamic State recruits are women.
There is no single profile of the typical female recruit, however two distinct groups are evident:
1.) young women (as young as 15) who travel to ISIS territory to marry a jihadist and
2.) women who are already married and travel with their husband. For young women still living with their parents, evidence from the Western Balkans and elsewhere shows that parents had little to no prior indication that their daughters were being radicalized or had the intention of departing for Islamic State-held territory.
The paper notes that “the women who migrate have taken on a variety of roles, and although they are predominantly expected to keep to the domestic sphere, their participation is still critical for developing the Islamic State‘s ‘Caliphate’ into what they believe will be a Muslim utopia”.
They also help expand the Islamic State‘s network by recruiting other women. Women are barred from taking up combat, and while they do not pose a security threat to European countries at present, they could be trained to become suicide bombers or fighters in future, the paper say.
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