Study says girls seek sisterhood not just marriage in IS

first_img 4 ways to protect your company from cyber breaches Top Stories Former Arizona Rep. Don Shooter shows health improvement Top holiday drink recipes Sponsored Stories “These anecdotes serve to disprove the idea of the well-integrated, utopian society that is so strongly emphasized by ISIS propaganda,” researchers said.Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Western societies must understand these varied motivations if they hope to prevent more women from joining the militants and potentially returning to their home nations to commit acts of terrorism, argue the report’s authors, Erin Saltman and Melanie Smith. Thinking of them as all being brainwashed, groomed, innocent girls hinders understanding of the threat they pose.“They’re not being taken seriously,” Smith said. “It’s inherently dangerous to label people with the same brush.”The report was presented Thursday at a Jihadist Insurgency Conference at King’s College. Saltman said women have always been involved in violent extremism, but that the number of women supporting Islamic State is “completely unprecedented.”“We see a real problem,” she said, citing several factors for the increased numbers, including the direct call Islamic State is making for female volunteers, the fact that women are directly recruiting other women online, and the “very fluent, catchy, pop culture” approach the extremists use in their propaganda.About 550 young women, some as young as 13, have already traveled to Islamic State-controlled territory, according to the report. Comments   Share   The authors combed the social media accounts of more than 100 female profiles across platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr. To grow their sample, they used a “snowball” technique in which female Islamic state migrants were identified among networks of other Islamic State networks. Photos, online chats and other accounts helped place the women geographically in Syria or Iraq. Researchers say the women came from 15 countries and were largely operating in English.They consistently talked about the camaraderie they experienced after moving to Islamic State territory, and often used social media to post images of veiled “sisters” posing together.“This is often contrasted with discussions about the false feeling or surface-level relationships they iterate they previously held in the West,” the authors said. “This search for meaning, sisterhood, and identity is a primary driving factor for many women to travel.”They are also searching for romance in the form of marriage.“Online, images of a lion and lioness are shared frequently to symbolize this union,” the report said. “This is symbolic of finding a brave and strong husband, but also propagandizes the notion that supporting a jihadist husband and taking on the ISIS ideology is an empowering role for females.”last_img read more