Abstract: There has been an apparent shift in the Islamic State’s position on whether or not women can participate in combat. While female suicide bombers were used extensively by the Islamic State’s predecessor group, al Qa`ida in Iraq, the Islamic State strictly mandated that women should be wives and mothers rather than fighters. With the group under pressure and facing recruitment challenges, two recent announcements suggest it has lifted its moratorium on women combatants, a shift that could have significant implications for regional and international security. 

On July 8, 2017, an image emerged from Mosul in which a young woman was shown cradling a baby as she walked through the ruined streets of the old city, flanked by members of the Iraqi security forces.1 Moments after the image was captured, the woman—who remains, as of yet, unidentified—allegedly detonated an explosive device that had been concealed in the bag at her side. The explosion was reported to have killed the woman and her child, and injured a number of civilians in the vicinity, as well as two Iraqi soldiers. As the battle for Mosul drew to a close after more than nine months of intense urban warfare, reports such as this one have emerged with increasing regularity. Indeed, by mid-July, more than 30 women were alleged to have engaged in suicide operations.2 The Islamic State has not yet claimed any of these attacks, and it could be that it never will. Regardless, the surge of reports regarding alleged female suicide bombers in the Islamic State’s territories raises important questions regarding the organization’s position on women’s participation in war.

While, in recent years, most allegations regarding women bombers in Iraq and Syria have been dubious, there is reason to believe that at least some of these latest reports from Mosul are credible.a The Islamic State has not acknowledged responsibility for these reported female suicide bombings, but it has modified its ideological position on the permissibility of female combatants recently, adopting a stance distinctly reminiscent of its predecessor, al-Qa`ida in Iraq (AQI). Until now, this shift has gone largely unnoticed.

In the following pages, the authors examine the documents that marked this turnaround, as well as the policies that were antecedent to it. By analyzing the Islamic State’s Arabic- and English-language literature on the matter, the authors demonstrate that, notwithstanding a handful of unconfirmed reports about female suicide bombers, the group’s embargo on female fighters had been remarkably consistent until recently.b They show that, whether or not women are already being posted to the battlefield—and there are increasing numbers of reports that suggest they are—these announcements lay the theological foundations for a development that could have significant implications on the war against the Islamic State not just in Iraq or Syria, but the rest of the world, too.

The article proceeds in five parts. First, it sets out the shift in Islamic State rhetoric on the issue, before tracing the roots of the most commonly held jihadi stance on women in war. Next, it sets out the position that was adopted by AQI, the Islamic State’s predecessor, in the 2000s. After that, it explores a range of official and semi-official discussions on female combatants released by the Islamic State between 2014 and 2017. The authors conclude by discussing what this shift actually means to those fighting against the organization or shaping policy to counter its terrorist endeavors abroad.

A New Era?
In July 2017, the Islamic State published the 11th edition of Rumiyah, its official magazine.3 Released each month in a number of languages—the issue in question was published in English, French, Bosnian, German, Indonesian, Kurdish, Pashtu, Russian, Turkish, Uyghur, and Urdu—Rumiyah is a repository for Islamic State news, speech transcripts, and infographics. However, it is perhaps most important for its role—alongside the Islamic State’s Arabic-language newspaper, al-Naba’—as an arbiter of organizational policy.

One of Rumiyah’s recurring features is ideological content tailored specifically to the interests of female supporters. In this regard, its essay, “Our Journey to Allah,” did not fail to deliver.4 The article was a four-page polemic encouraging women in the Islamic State to remain “steadfast and unshakable” in the face of adversity and support their husbands as they fought off the so-called caliphate’s encroaching enemies.5 Parroting the usual organizational line, it held that women are first and foremost “wives” and “mothers” who “must fulfill” their duties “attentively,” and refrain from complaining when their husbands “practice the sunnah [Prophetic tradition] of polygamy.”6

The article would have been wholly unremarkable were it not for four sentences toward the end in which the author declared, by analogy, that women could now take up arms in combative jihad. It was stated that the time had come for them to “rise with courage and sacrifice in this war” and follow in the footsteps of Umm ‘Amarah, a female companion of the Prophet Muhammad who is said to have defended him at the Battle of Uhud along with four other women, one of whom is said to have been pregnant at the time.7 Female supporters of the Islamic State, the article held, were now encouraged to emulate Umm ‘Amarah’s example and take to the battlefield “not because of the small number of men but rather, due to their love for jihad, their desire to sacrifice for the sake of Allah, and their desire for Jannah.”8

This call-to-arms compounded an assertion made in al-Naba’ in December 2016 that “jihad is not, as a rule, an obligation for women, but let the female Muslim know as well that if the enemy enters her abode, jihad is just as necessary for her as it is for the man, and she should repel him by whatever means possible.”9 Taken together, these declarations—both of which reframed the Islamic State jihad as a defense—seemed to suggest that the caliphate had at least rhetorically lifted its moratorium on female combatants.

Before examining how and why this matters, it first serves to contextualize the issue within the wider ideology of jihadism.

Jihadis and Women at War
In recent decades, jihadis have tended to coalesce around the view that women—whom they revere as wives, mothers, and educators of the next generation—should not engage in combative jihad—unless, that is, extenuating circumstances demand otherwise.10 This position is based on a doctrine of military jihad that dates back to the early years of Islam and that has been revisited multiple times by Islamic scholars. The doctrine was developed in order to distinguish between times of war and peace as well as the relations not only between Muslim nations, but also between Muslims and their non-Muslim neighbors. While interpretations of it have fluctuated significantly over the last 1,400 years, the position on women in war has remained relatively consistent. Female Muslims were generally discouraged from ever participating in battle.

This changed when ‘Abdullah ‘Azzam, building off the writings on defensive jihad by the Egyptian Islamist ‘Abd al-Salam al-Faraj, cleared the theological way for female combatants.11 In his most famous fatwa, which was popularized in the 1980s, ‘Azzam determined that defensive jihad was a fard ‘ayn (a personal duty) for all Muslims, men and women.12 While relatively revolutionary, this was not a blank check for women to participate in combat. ‘Azzam’s position was more nuanced than that. He ruled that female fighters, while in theory permissible, had to be confined to certain contexts and could only engage when the jihad was defensive.13 This contention was supported by senior jihadis like the al-Qa`ida ideologue ‘Abd al-Qadir bin ‘Abd al-‘Aziz (Sayyid Imam al-Sharif), who argued that women should be given military training, but only insofar as it would equip them for self-defense against the enemies of Islam.14

In sum, the stance on women’s participation in combat most often adopted by jihadis is distinctly ambivalent. Females are not meant to fight, but there are conditions whereby it theoretically becomes permissible. However, as scholar Nelly Lahoud found, even when conditions for permissibility arise, it is rare indeed for them to actually be conscripted.15

While it may not have been the first jihadi outfit to militarize women, AQI was a trailblazer in taking this idea from theory to practice.

Al-Zarqawi’s Mujahidat
In the context of AQI, women combatants were destined to become commonplace. Indeed, during the second half of the 2000s, dozens were reported to have been dispatched on suicide missions for the group.16

The female bomber phenomenon first emerged in Iraq in 2005, a few months after AQI’s leader, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, released a 97-minute statement entitled “Will the Religion Wane While I Live.”17 In it, he specifically discussed the role of women in jihad, noting that the pressure Sunni Muslims were facing from the occupation in Iraq at the time required that they take a more proactive role. Referring to the precedent set by Umm ‘Amarah—the same female companion of the Prophet Muhammad discussed by the Islamic State of late—al-Zarqawi declared that “the mujahidah woman is she who raises her child not to live, but to fight and then die so that he may live and be free. What a great endeavor and what a supreme intention.”18 Minutes later, al-Zarqawi can be heard speaking of “the many mujahidah sisters in the Land of the Two Rivers [Iraq] who are requesting to perpetrate martyrdom-seeking operations.” While al-Zarqawi refrained from confirming whether or not these requests were granted, his words seemed to foreshadow the beginning of what would become AQI’s systematic militarization of women.19 Indeed, in the months and years that followed this speech, female bombers came to play an instrumental role in the Iraqi insurgency, in many ways proving to be more useful than male operatives as they were generally less conspicuous and thus able to slip into areas that were harder to target.

What is widely regarded to have been the first operation by AQI involving a woman came on September 28, 2005, when a female bomber “dressed like a man” detonated an explosive device outside a U.S. military base near Tal Afar.20 In a statement commemorating the attack, AQI’s spokesman at the time, Abu Maysarah al-‘Iraqi, declared the bomber to be “a noble sister” who was acting “heroically in the name of her religion.”21

A few days later, al-Maysara commemorated another attack, this time in Mosul, in which a pair of bombers descended upon a U.S. convoy. His statement read:

“The brother assaulted a convoy of the Cross worshippers in the Baladiyyat district of East Mosul, destroying, by the will of Allah, an armoured vehicle and killing all those within it, thanks be to Allah and His Grace. Then, [the brother’s] wife—and what a wife she was—plunged into another Crusader convoy in the Hadba’ district, crying ‘By the Lord, I succeeded.’ By the will of Allah, she destroyed an armoured vehicle, killing everyone within it, thanks be to Allah and His Grace.”22

To be sure, these operations and others like them—including one that involved the Belgian convert Muriel Degauque—were controversial.23 However, according to al-Zarqawi’s reading of jihadi doctrine, they were justified both tactically, as a way to strike the adversary, and strategically, as a way to shame men into taking up arms.c As such, they continued unabated even after al-Zarqawi died and AQI began operating under the guise of the Islamic State of Iraq.24 Indeed, with the onset of the 2007 surge, the rate of female suicide bombings actually increased, peaking in 2008 as an apparent result of the unprecedented pressure on the organization at the time.25

Muriel Degauque, the Belgian woman who committed a suicide bombing attack against a U.S. Army convoy in Iraq in November 2005. (Virginie Lefour/AFP/Getty Images)

An Uneasy Moratorium
For reasons that remain unclear, at around the turn of the decade, the Islamic State of Iraq determined that female participation in combat was no longer permissible. While the organization never specified why, this was perhaps due to the gradual withdrawal of U.S. troops, who had served to justify its ‘extreme’ measures. However, even though reports about women bombers unequivocally dried up, the group never fully shut the door on its former position.

As such, even though its stance regarding the impermissibility of female combatants was, until recently at least, unambiguous, the Islamic State never refrained from revering the female fighters that had taken up arms as part of its forebears. Take, for example, Sajida al-Rishawi, who was arrested in Amman, Jordan, in 2005 after she failed to detonate an explosive device at a wedding in the Radisson Hotel. In February 2015, years after she had faded from the public eye, al-Rishawi’s name returned to the headlines when the Islamic State demanded that she be released from death row in exchange for the lives of Kenji Goto, the Japanese photojournalist it had taken hostage the year before, and Mu’adh al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot that had crash-landed near Raqqa at the end of 2014. After weeks of negotiations and the deaths of both Goto, who was beheaded by Mohammed Emwazi (aka ‘Jihadi John’), and al-Kasasbeh, who was burned alive in a cage, al-Rishawi was hanged by the Jordanian government.

Among other things, this episode drew attention to an implicit contradiction within the Islamic State’s ideology. When it came to honoring the life of al-Rishawi, the group’s support for her as a would-be AQI bomber was unambiguous. However, at the same time, the Islamic State was, and for a number of years has been, an ardent opponent of female combatants, let alone bombers. Indeed, over the course of the Islamic State’s short tenure as caliphate, its propaganda had been replete with theological, emotional, and political arguments against the appearance of women on the battlefield, a stance that contradicted that of the organization to which it owed its existence.

Until recently, this had continued to be the case. Indeed, the Islamic State had not had to meaningfully engage with the dilemma of female combatants until it started hemorrhaging territory. After all, after it declared itself a caliphate in 2014, the group not only enjoyed the presence of tens of thousands of fighters from abroad—and hence was not suffering from any manpower shortages—it had unambiguously framed its jihad as offensive, not defensive. However, now that its caliphate has been pushed to the brink of territorial collapse, the nature of its jihad has seemingly changed back to a defensive stance. As such, so too has it had to revisit its position on the issue of female combatants.

The Ideal Muhajirah: Between Myth and Reality
In the summer of 2014—when the Islamic State seized Mosul, expanded across Syria, and declared a caliphate—the organization became a daily fixture in the global news media. One facet of it that received the steadiest stream of attention was its female supporters, the so-called ‘jihadi brides’ that had traveled from across the world to join it as muhajirat (female migrants). The Western tabloid press in particular fetishized this phenomenon, providing regular reports on women in the Islamic State that were often reductive and misleading.

The myth of the female foreign fighter largely owes its existence to claims made on social media by Western muhajirat, who frequently alleged that they were training for combat and participating in skirmishes.26 The reality of life for women in the Islamic State was significantly different from what these notorious accounts suggested—more a manifestation of jihadi conceptions on the idealized role of women than anything else. Female supporters were expected to marry strangers, stay indoors, and support the jihad from far behind the frontlines. Given that promises of empowerment and participation were instrumental to the group’s appeal, it is unsurprising that the social media myth—in which women were given roles as gun-toting soldiers and enforcers—did not live up to reality.

Examination of the Islamic State’s Arabic- and English-language propaganda offers a more accurate picture of what life was like for female members of the group, one that has repeatedly been echoed in the accounts of women who married into it and were subsequently captured as they fled from places like Raqqa and Mosul in 2017.27 There are three principal sources that discuss the role of women in the caliphate: first, the Khansa’ manifesto on women; second, the Zawra’ treatise on female combatants; and, finally, the women-orientated articles in its magazines, Dabiq and Rumiyah, and, to a slightly lesser extent, its newspaper al-Naba’. Together, these three sets of material illustrate the realities and evolution of women’s roles in the Islamic State far more reliably than the personal propaganda disseminated by muhajirat.

The Khansa’ Manifesto
The Khansa’ manifesto, which was first circulated online by Islamic State supporters in early 2015, offered explicit advice regarding the role of women in the Islamic State.28 The manifesto’s author—who claimed to be affiliated with the Khansa’ Brigade, an all-female policing unit operating in Raqqa at the time—stated that their “fundamental function” was “in the house, with [their] husband and children.”29 There were some exceptional circumstances in which female supporters would be permitted to leave their homes—for example, to study their religion and to engage in medical work.30

On the question of whether or not women could participate in combative jihad, the document was unequivocal. Women were expressly forbidden from fighting unless circumstances demanded otherwise. Indeed, the text held that women may engage in combat “if the enemy is attacking [their] country, and the men are not enough to protect it, and the imams give a fatwa for it, as the blessed women of Iraq and Chechnya did with great sadness.”31 According to the Khansa’ manifesto, then, women could theoretically participate in combative jihad, but only in highly specific circumstances, which female jihadis in Iraq and Syria were not facing at the time that it was published.

The Zawra’ Foundation
The Zawra’ Foundation—another female-orientated propaganda outlet aligned with the Islamic State—upheld the above position when it released a treatise on women and combat in August 2015.32

Entitled “Valuable Advice and Important Analysis on the Rules for Women’s Participation in Jihad,” the Zawra’ treatise noted that there are four conditions in which women may engage in combative jihad—first, “if a woman is raided in her house, she may defend herself;”33 second, if she is “in a hospital or a public place attacked by the kuffar … and she has a [suicide] belt with her, she can detonate it;”34 third, “if she is in a solitary place and has been ordered by the amir,” she may use a sniper rifle; and, finally, “martyrdom operations are permissible for women but only if the amir has permitted it, and it is for the public good.”35

The brief treatise concluded by advising that women should not preoccupy themselves with the idea of engaging in combative jihad, but should instead focus on “nursing, cooking, [and] sewing,” though it was permissible for them to train with “weapons” for purposes of self-defense.36 In this sense, the text reiterated the Islamic State’s position that women could only engage in combative jihad if the circumstances demanded it and they were specifically instructed to by their emir, or if they were attempting to protect themselves.

Dabiq, Rumiyah, and al-Naba’
Between 2014 and 2017, the Islamic State intensively discussed the role of women in publications like Dabiq and Rumiyah, both of which are al-Hayat Media Center products, and al-Naba’, which is published by the organization’s Central Media Diwan.

While, when it was last in circulation, Dabiq offered a slightly more ambiguous stance than that of Rumiyah and al-Naba’, it was still clear about what women should prioritize as supporters of the Islamic State jihad. For example, in its first “To Our Sisters” feature, Dabiq interviewed the erstwhile wife of Amedy Coulibaly, who killed four civilians at a anwish grocery store in Paris in January 2015.37 Hayat Boumeddiene—or as she came to be known, Umm Basir al-Muhajirah—called upon her female readership to:

“Be a base of support and safety for your husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons. Be advisors to them. They should find comfort and peace with you. Do not make things difficult for them. Facilitate all matters for them. Be strong and brave.”38

In spite of the fact that, prior to her husband’s attack, she had been photographed training with a crossbow in France,39 Boumeddiene did not encourage women to take up arms. Likewise, in a later issue of Dabiq, Umm Sumayyah al-Muhajirah, another female member of the Islamic State, echoed this position, writing that women have no place on the battlefield.40 She noted that:

“The absence of an obligation of jihad and war upon the Muslim woman—except in defense against someone attacking her—does not overturn her role in building the Ummah, producing men, and sending them out to the fierceness of battle.”41

When it came to Rumiyah, the magazine that replaced Dabiq in September 2016, the Islamic State continued in this vein. For the rest of the 2016 and much of 2017, it doubled down on the fact that women should not engage in combat. Indeed, even when the coalition-backed campaign for Mosul was at its fiercest, the Rumiyah editors were preoccupied with urging their female readership to limit their engagement in jihad to childbearing and providing for their husbands, fathers, brothers, and sons. Articles like “Abide in Your Homes,”42 “Marrying Widows Is an Established Sunnah,”43 and “I Will Outnumber the Other Nations through You”44 invariably focused on the need for women to continue living a sedentary, supportive existence. Of course, this was only up until July 2017, when Rumiyah’s combat moratorium was lifted.

For its part, al-Naba’ discussed the role of women in the caliphate much less than Dabiq or Rumiyah, offering up only a handful of essays between late 2015 and 2017 that discussed issues like the need for female modesty45 and guidelines for what was considered to be the appropriate dress for women.46 As was the case with Rumiyah, though, this editorial stance was set to change. In December 2016, it published “I Will Die While Islam Is Glorious,” the aforementioned article in which it was asserted that combative “jihad is just as necessary for [the woman] as it is for the man” provided it was occurring in the right context.47

Up until recently, the message conveyed to women in the Islamic State’s Arabic- and English-language propaganda was threefold: first, female supporters were told to stay at home and maintain a sedentary and reclusive lifestyle; second, they were advised to support the Islamic State through money and words, rather than deeds; and, third, they were instructed to have as many children as their bodies would permit and be open to remarriage if their husband was killed on the battlefield. For years, this tripartite message—which largely conforms to the traditional jihadi reasoning regarding women and war—was consistently and clearly disseminated by the Islamic State from multiple official channels in multiple languages. Women in the caliphate were cherished as necessary parts of the jihadi project but never encouraged to engage in violence, and on the rare occasion that they did, the organization’s ambivalence was clear.d

However, as the Islamic State’s territorial losses and manpower shortages mounted,e this position appeared to change. While the extent to which women are formally being operationalized currently remains unclear, the Islamic State undeniably began to sow doubt as to the impermissibility of female combatants from the end of 2016 onward, as the abovementioned articles in al-Naba’ and Rumiyah indicate. In so doing, it drew on the very same theological precedents referred to by al-Zarqawi in 2005, when he first substantively discussed the role of women in jihad.

Taking this into account, the Islamic State’s rhetorical turnaround could turn out to be significant indeed, and with unconfirmed reports of female suicide bombers48 and snipers49 streaming out of places like Mosul at an increasing rate, it seems that this shift could already be under way.     CTC

Charlie Winter is a senior research fellow at the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King’s College London and an associate fellow at the International Centre for Counter Terrorism in The Hague. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in war studies, exploring how propaganda images articulate meaning. Follow @charliewinter 

Devorah Margolin is a research fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies and currently a doctoral researcher and senior editor of Strife Journal in the Department of War Studies, King’s College London. Her Ph.D. focuses on the role of women in terrorist organizations. Follow @DevorahMargolin

Substantive Notes
[a] It should be noted that a significant number of women have been reported to have carried out suicide operations on behalf of Wilayat West Africa (Boko Haram), the Islamic State’s affiliate in West Africa. It appears that the group has not been guided by—or has not cooperated with—official Islamic State policy. Jason Warner and Hilary Matfess, Exploding Stereotypes: The Unexpected Operational and Demographic Characteristics of Boko Haram’s Suicide Bombers, (West Point, NY: Combating Terrorism Center, 2017).

[b] For example, in October 2016, Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi published a document being circulated among Islamic State supporters in which the author referred, in passing, to a female suicide bomber who had killed herself in an operation in northern Syria. Beyond the fact that the perpetrator was a woman, no other information was offered about the attack, so it was not possible to verify it. See Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, “The Archivist: Stories of the Mujahideen: Women of the Islamic State,” Jihadology, October 17, 2016.

[c] This latter sentiment was apparent as early as January 2004, when al-Zarqawi released a speech shaming men for not rushing to join his group. He declared, “The war has broken out, the caller to jihad has called for it, and the doors of heaven have been opened! So if you don’t want to be of the knights, then make room for the women to wage war, and you can take the eyeliner.” Al-Ansar Media Battalion translation, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, “Join the Caravan,” January 4, 2004. The authors wish to thank Brian Fishman, Craig Whiteside, Christopher Anzalone, Jean-Charles Brisard, and Catherine Philip for their help in tracking down the exact release date of this statement.

[d] For example, the Islamic State refrained from referring to Tafsheen Malik, one of the San Bernardino attackers, as one of its “soldiers,” and when three young women attacked a police station in Kenya with knives and firebombs in 2016, its celebration was only tentative. The group commended them, but only inasmuch as they had “shoulder[ed] a duty that Allah had placed on the shoulders of the men of the Ummah.” See “A Message from East Africa,” in Rumiyah Issue II, October 4, 2016.

[e] It is worth noting that, in response to its losses in 2017, the Islamic State engaged in another unprecedented measure: mandatory conscription. Hassan Hassan, “UNPRECEDENTED — ISIS declares forceful conscription for all military-age males in Deir Ezzor (for now from 20-year-olds to 30-year-olds),” Twitter, August 3, 2017.

[1] Josie Ensor, “Chilling Picture Shows Female Isil Fighter Holding Child Moments before Detonating Suicide Vest,” Telegraph, July 10, 2017.

[2] Jack Moore, “ISIS Unleashes Dozens of Female Suicide Bombers in Battle for Mosul,” Newsweek, July 5, 2017.

[3] Rumiyah Issue XI, Al Hayat Media Center, July 13, 2017.

[4] “Our Journey to Allah,” in Rumiyah Issue XI, pp. 12-15.

[5] Ibid., p. 12.

[6] Ibid., p. 13.

[7] Ibid., p. 15.

[8] Ibid., p. 15.

[9] Winter’s translation, “I Will Die While Islam Is Glorious,” in Al-Naba’ Issue LIX, Central Media Diwan, December 12, 2017, p. 15.

[10] See, for example, Nelly Lahoud, “The Neglected Sex: The Jihadis’ Exclusion of Women from Jihad,” Terrorism and Political Violence 26:5 (2014): pp. 780-802, and David Cook, “Women Fighting in Jihad?” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 28:5 (2005): pp. 375-384.

[11] Lahoud, p. 782.

[12] Lahoud, p. 782. For the original Arabic text, see Abdullah Azzam, The Defense of Muslim Lands: The Most Important of Individual Duties (Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad, 1984), p. 21.

[13] Youssef Aboul-Enein, The Late Sheikh Abdullah Azzam’s Books: Part III: Radical Theories on Defending Muslim Land through Jihad (West Point, NY: Combating Terrorism Center, 2010).

[14] Lahoud, p. 786. For the original Arabic text, see Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, Treatise on the Pillar of Preparing Oneself for Jihad in the Way of Allah the Almighty, p. 29.

[15] See Lahoud.

[16] See Jessica Davis, “Evolution of Global Jihad: Female Suicide Bombers in Iraq,” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 36:4 (2013): pp. 279-291.

[17] Winter’s translation, Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, “Will the Religion Wane While I Live,” July 7, 2005.

[18] “Will the Religion Wane While I live,” p. 20.

[19] Ibid., p. 19.

[20] See Jackie Spinner, “Female Suicide Bomber Attacks U.S. Military Post,” Washington Post, September 29, 2005.

[21] Winter’s translation, Abu Maysara al-‘Iraqi, “The al-Qa’ida Organization Claims Responsibility for the Martyrdom-Seeking Operation on a Recruitment Center for Apostates in Tal’afar,” The Media Section for al-Qa’ida in the Land of the Two Rivers, October 10, 2005.

[22] Winter’s translation, Abu Maysara al-‘Iraqi, “A Martyrdom-Seeker and His Wife Carry Out Martyrdom-Seeking Operation in Mosul,” October 12, 2005.

[23] See “Belgian ‘suicide bomber’ is named,” BBC News, December 2, 2005.

[24] Jonathan Steele, “Victims or Villains,” Guardian, September 11, 2008.

[25] Davis, p. 280.

[26] Daniel Piotrowski, “EXCLUSIVE: ‘We’re Thirsty for Your Blood’: Playboy Jihadi’s Widow Poses with Her Gun-Toting ‘Clique’ of Female Fanatics in Front of Flash BMW and Boasts of ‘Five-Star Jihad’ Lifestyle in Syria,” Daily Mail Australia, March 18, 2015.

[27] See, for example, Borzou Daragahi, “We Spoke to Women Who Married into ISIS in Syria. These Are Their Regrets,” Buzzfeed, July 20, 2017.

[28] Charlie Winter, “Women of the Islamic State: A Manifesto on Women by the al-Khansa’ Brigade,” Quilliam, February 5, 2015.

[29] Ibid., p. 22.

[30] Ibid., p. 22.

[31] Ibid., p. 22.

[32] Al-Zawra’ Foundation, “Valuable Advice and Important Analysis on the Rules for Women’s Participation in Jihad,” August 2015. See Charlie Winter, “2. In August, #IS|ers circulated this clarification on permissibility of women & fighting. Here’s my translation,” Twitter, November 19, 2015.

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] “To Our Sisters: A Brief Interview with Umm Basir al-Muhajirah,” in Dabiq Issue VII, Al Hayat Media Center, February 12, 2015, pp. 50-51.

[38] Ibid., p. 51.

[39] Bill Gardner and Ben Farmer, “Paris Shootings: France’s Most Wanted Woman Hayat Boumeddiene has ‘escaped to Syria,’” Telegraph, January 10, 2015.

[40] Umm Sumayyah al-Muhajirah, “A Jihad without Fighting,” in Dabiq Issue XI, Al Hayat Media Center, July 31, 2016, pp. 40-45.

[41] Ibid., p. 41.

[42] See “Rumiyah Issue 3,” Al Hayat Media Center, November 11, 2016, pp. 40-41.

[43] See “Rumiyah Issue 4,” Al Hayat Media Center, December 4, 2016, pp. 32-33.

[44] See “Rumiyah Issue 5,” Al Hayat Media Center, January 6, 2017, pp. 34-35.

[45] “Violations of Modesty among Women,” in Al-Naba’ Issue LXXX, Central Media Diwan, May 11, 2017, p. 15.

[46] “Dressing in Front of Women,” in Al-Naba’ Issue LXXI, Central Media Diwan, March 9, 2017, p. 15.

[47] “I Will Die While Islam Is Glorious” in Al-Naba’ Issue LIX, p. 15.

[48] Ensor.

[49] Josie Ensor and Justin Huggler, “Teenage Isil Bride from Germany Captured in Mosul,” Telegraph, July 18, 2017.

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