Recently the media has touched based on ISIS’s new media wing known as The Zora Foundation promoting an almost doctrine type guide of how to be a “good jihadist wife”. This ties with the phenomenon of Western women joining ISIS that begs the question “Why?” why are women from any background/origin leaving their homes and taking part of a community known for extreme violence and terrorism. What are the social roles of ISIS women and what effect has it led to the growing rate of women joining ISIS and progressing ISIS’s goal to establish a caliphate?
ISIS stands for Islamic state of Iraq and Syria. They were previously known as al-Qaeda in Iraq but split ways in February 2014 due to ISIS’s brutality being too extreme for al-Qaeda. The conflict between Iraqi Shias and Iraqi Sunnis have created a great deal of tension regarding modern political power and grievances. ISIS fighters themselves are Sunnis and want to establish a caliphate. They have captured the city of Mosul and large territories of Iraq and have successfully pushed into Kurdish territory. In August 2014, the US launched an air campaign in Iraq while supporting Kurdish and Iraqi troops to push ISIS out of the Mosul Dam. The number of ISIS fighters and supports continue to grow which includes women as well.
ISIS women do not partake in combat of any sort for their movement. Instead they show solidarity by supporting their husband following him wherever he leads them to. Many ISIS women are well educated with most attending college while residing in the western states. They are not simply “baby machines” nor do they feel oppressed by their religion/belief or joining due to an emotional whim but instead with the degree of reason and rationality. A huge contribution made by the wives of ISIS is attracting western women to Syria. Opposite of the ISIS fighter’s publicity where promotion of violence is used, ISIS women are using social media to blog about their life as a Jihad women and what it consists of in tense environments. This includes manuals and tips for cooking, cleaning and first aid kits by giving guidance to women on their role. They use persuasion tactics advocating the sense of community and women’s roles importance in Islam to sacrifice all their desires and give up their families and lives in the west in order to make Hijrah and please Allah. ISIS women also produce/edit slideshows and film footage in an effort to make more propaganda. Currently there are only two female brigades and exist purely to enforce strict Sharia law. Even though ISIS women carry AK-47s to the grocery store or the park, they do not fight themselves. This illustrates how the men and women roles are different but they have the same goals. By creating a portrayal of their “state” functioning like a normal society, they allow the idea of credibility, empowerment and a sense of adventure to influence/attract western women and/or women from anywhere. In return, this creates a naïve romanticism about being a part of a new political state and partaking of “feminine manual labor” to make not only God happy but their militants as well.