‘Till Martyrdom Do Us Part’

By Mohammad Aburumman

تم نشره في Thu 5 January / Jan 2017. 01:00 AM
  • Mohammad Aburumman

The phenomenon of Jihadi Women was not researched thoroughly enough, despite the exponential spread with the surge of ISIS; the terrorist group successfully recruited hundreds of women from around Europe and the Arab World, let alone the Iraqi and Syrian women already married to Daeshi fighters, who remain unknown. Notably, this would produce a hybrid society in ISIS-held territories; families in whole, made up of women, men, and their children.

Media, as opposed to what should be done, reduced the phenomena through the stereotypical clenches which appeal to the social imagination, instead of exploring and conveying the truth. Arab media are not innocent of this any more than western media is, despite the usual —and most unfortunate— relative objectivity of western media and news, particularly when it comes to investigative reporting into Daeshi female cases, whereas Arab media remains bound to the typical security-guided rhetoric.

That said, several important studies and literatures were published on the feminist phenom of Daeshi women in Europe, and I am currently working alongside my colleague Hasan Abu Hanieh on a comprehensive book about the phenomenon, soon to be published by the Friedrich Ebert foundation.

Chief among these studies is one titled: “Till Martyrdom Do Us Part: Gender and the ISIS Phenomenon”, by Erin Marie Saltman and Melanie Smith, published of the Strategic Dialogue centre in London, which has become dedicated to pioneering in this particular field.

The Study explores the European Jihadi female phenomenon of nearly 100 cases from 15 western states, in a collaboration with the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, with a focus on a bundle of important cases, like teenagers Khadija, 15, Amira, 16, and Sharmina, from Britain and Australia, who were among the best performing students in their schools, living their lives like all teens do.

Khadija was an honour student. Amira was an excelling athlete. Whereas their friend, Sharmina, now 21 years old, had gone to Raqqa a year before them.

Notwithstanding, there is the mystery doctor, self-famed as “Shams”, with a diary blog known as the “Immigrant Diary”. She was 27 when she joined the terrorist group almost 3 years ago, and so far until this day, her real identity remains unknown.

Even though Shams is Malaysian, with command of three languages, researchers are convinced —according to the study— that she had lived in Britain, at least for a while.

Shams is one of the most prominent social media women, mainly for communicating exciting details on the life a Daeshi women and for being a doctor overseas working with ISIS.

Similarly, a whole Australian family moved to Raqqa, a mother and two daughters, the eldest is 14, along with the family friend.

Typically, these study cases are limited, and there are hundreds of women migrating to join ISIS. But the value of this study lies in that it traces these cases all the way back to before they joined ISIS, or Daesh, all through their arrival, marriage, motherhood, to “young widowers”, as is expected when they marry men in such a war torn society; they are killed.

The study highlights the psychological, intellectual, and sociological changes these women undergo, via their social media profile.

Notably too, the researchers start their research voiding the stereotypical image of terror brides and Jihad sex, highlighting instead, a multitude of clear and objective conditions surrounding the phenomenon of women migrating to join ISIS.