In Iraq, the fight against ISIS continues.
Up until almost a few years ago, Aqsa Mahmood was a normal teen in Scotland. She was born to middle class parents in a town near Glasgow, Scotland. Mahmood's life was filled with the advantages that come with such an upbringing, like private schools, supportive and successful parents, and a quiet, suburban upbringing. She was like most other teenage girls in the Western world. She read Harry Potter. She experimented with makeup and fashion. She gossiped with her friends about boys. Today, she lives in Syria as a jihad wife, where she's been since late last year.
Her parents recently revealed to the public their daughter's choice to align herself with ISIS, a terrorist group of militant Islamists. In wake of this revelation, they released a statement: "If our daughter who had every chance and freedom in life could become a bedroom radical, then it is possible for it to happen to any family." And it can—a pair of 16-year-old twins from Manchester, England, relocated to Syria in May, calling their parents to tell them that they're not coming back. These three are just a small portion of those who have left their comfortable Western lives to join the Islamic state. And like the others, Mahmood found her interest in radical Islam on the internet.
The threat of ISIS continues to grow. Two American journalists have been beheaded at their hands. While the terror of ISIS is most prevalent in the Middle East, particularly Syria and Iraq, where they have their strongholds, they are attempting to extend their reach far beyond. The Islamic militant group is looking to recruit Western women to join their cause through an online campaign.
These would-be jihads wouldn't be joining ISIS's network to contribute by fighting, but as companions to the holy warriors of ISIS. Their role is restricted to two purposes: being the wives and mothers to jihad militants, and encouraging other Western women to join the "sisters," or the wives of ISIS. The "appeal" also comes from the sisterhood that has developed among the wives of ISIS. Once a woman joins ISIS, the group encourages them to reach out to other Western women to join them as "sisters." It is not the harsher images of ISIS that is used to recruit these women, but rather a more peaceful picture of jihad life: the private, familial setting, domestic tasks, and the special honor of bearing and raising the next group of jihadist fighters.
Despite this more peaceful marketing of the campaign, these women are still vocal about the violent acts—and they're public about their views. Many of these women advocate for ISIS online, through Twitter. In her tweets, Mahmood praises Boston bombers and other brutal events, saying "If you cannot make it to the battlefield, then bring the battlefield to yourself."
Tamer tweets from Mahmood and other jihad wives will provide advice and instructions for the journey to ISIS controlled territories. For these women, the internet offers them a way to connect with other Western women who could be potential recruits. Internet forums are oftentimes the gateway for current "sisters" to find ISIS. One thing is for certain, social media has and will continue to aid ISIS's recruitment of Western women into this jihadist sisterhood.
These Women Are Fighting Back In The Middle East
The Rise of Women Entrepreneurs in the Middle East
The 10 Countries Where It's THE WORST to be a Woman
I'm an Associate Editor at the Business of Fashion, where I edit and write stories about the fashion and beauty industries. Previously, I was the brand editor at Adweek, where I was the lead editor for Adweek's brand and retail coverage. Before my switch to business journalism, I was a writer/reporter at PEOPLE.com, where I wrote news posts, galleries and articles for PEOPLE magazine's website. My work has been published on TheAtlantic.com, ELLE.com, MarieClaire.com, PEOPLE.com, GoodHousekeeping.com and in Every Day with Rachael Ray. It has been syndicated by Cosmopolitan.com, TIME.com, TravelandLeisure.com and GoodHousekeeping.com, among other publications. Previously, I've worked at VOGUE.com, ELLE.com, and MarieClaire.com.
I Wear Exclusively Neutrals—These 14 Items From Banana Republic's MDW Sale Speak To Me
Live your best life in linen.
By Julia Marzovilla
Kylie Jenner and I Share The Same Favorite Phone Case Brand
The serotonin-boosting case I can't go a day without.
By Gabrielle Ulubay
The 14 Must-Haves Marie Claire Editors Are Buying During Nordstrom's Enormous Sale
Thousands of cult products are discounted during Nordstrom's Half-Yearly Sale—but they're going fast.
By Julia Marzovilla
36 Ways Women Still Aren't Equal to Men
It's just one of the many ways women still aren't equal to men.
By Brooke Knappenberger
EMILY's List President Laphonza Butler Has Big Plans for the Organization
Under Butler's leadership, the largest resource for women in politics aims to expand Black political power and become more accessible for candidates across the nation.
By Rachel Epstein
Want to Fight for Abortion Rights in Texas? Raise Your Voice to State Legislators
Emily Cain, executive director of EMILY's List and and former Minority Leader in Maine, says that to stop the assault on reproductive rights, we need to start demanding more from our state legislatures.
By Emily Cain
Your Abortion Questions, Answered
Here, MC debunks common abortion myths you may be increasingly hearing since Texas' near-total abortion ban went into effect.
By Rachel Epstein
The Future of Afghan Women and Girls Depends on What We Do Next
Between the U.S. occupation and the Taliban, supporting resettlement for Afghan women and vulnerable individuals is long overdue.
By Rona Akbari
How to Help Afghanistan Refugees and Those Who Need Aid
With the situation rapidly evolving, organizations are desperate for help.
By Katherine J Igoe
It’s Time to Give Domestic Workers the Protections They Deserve
The National Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, reintroduced today, would establish a new set of standards for the people who work in our homes and take a vital step towards racial and gender equity.
By Ai-jen Poo
The Biden Administration Announced It Will Remove the Hyde Amendment
The pledge was just one of many gender equity commitments made by the administration, including the creation of the first U.S. National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence.
By Megan DiTrolio