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The rise of female jihadists

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By Joanna Gill
The rise of female jihadists

As French police search for a female suspect in connection with the terrorist attacks in Paris, euronews spoke to an expert about women being radicalised and used as jihadists.

Mia Bloom is Professor of Security Studies at the University of Massachusetts and author of ‘Bombshell: The Many Faces of Female Terrorists’.

She told euronews: “When you have a female involved in a terrorist organisation it shames other men into participating and the groups are able to say things like ‘you are hiding behind the women if you don’t step up and join the organisation’.

“But it also ensures that the terrorist group is more generational, because it is the women who are going to raise those children in an environment where they will be able to step into their fathers’ shoes.

“The notion that women are only radical because they’ve lost a loved one or the husband has been killed is really disputed when you see pictures of Hayat Boummedienne wearing her hijab but posing with a crossbow. She was radical clearly before her husband or her partner was killed.

“Groups that previously never used women – groups like the Taliban, groups like the Boko Haram, and more recently al-Shabaab – have started using women more and more. And so if these, which are the most conservative societies in which we see al-Qaeda affiliates, have engaged women in places where women are literally sequestered behind walls, women are not out in public, then we really do see that the terrorist groups have become very instrumental in using women.”