Additional Post for 28 October 2014   Leave a comment

A fascinating story from the Financial Times:

Heba Saleh in Cairo, “Western female jihadis deploy the ‘soft-power’ of Isis online,” Financial Times, 28 October 2014

They cheer on beheadings, defend rape and the enslavement of women, and yearn to revive oppressive centuries-old traditions that
many of their female co-religionists in Muslim countries are struggling to shake off.

Hundreds of young Muslim women from the west who travelled to Syria to marry fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant,
known as Isis, are part of what experts call, the “soft-power” of the militants. Isis has used social media to attract new recruits and
build an image of the group as a reincarnation of the just and righteous state to which many Muslims aspire.

Umm Mu’awiyah, who tweets in English and appears to be British, is a recent arrival in Raqqa, the
Syrian capital of the Islamic state proclaimed by Isis. Despite the US-led strikes against the group, she tweeted on October 8 that she
has finally “made it to Dar al-Islam”, or the land of Islam, and exhorted others to “rush” over while there was still a “window of
opportunity”.

“It feels like I never left the west,” she wrote soon after her arrival. “I’m surrounded by so many Brits and Europeans, it is
unbelievable.”

An air raid a few days later left her undaunted: “Witnessed my first strike last night as the disbelievers attacked Raqqa. Alhamdulillah
[thank God] zero casualties & more money wasted by the Kafir [infidels].”

The women and their universe of online followers and young admirers back home are part of what Sasha Havlicek, director of the
London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue, describes as a “jihadi girl power subculture”, facilitated by the internet.

For Isis, she argues, the recruitment of these women is “very good troop morale-strategy because in the battle of ideas it is good to say
western women, with all their freedoms, chose this”.

Mostly young, aged 15-22, jihadi women use social media, such as Twitter, Tumblr and Kik, the messaging service, to exchange with
followers advice on how to get to Syria, to celebrate Isis advances and to relay observations on their new lives.

They may be yearning for the lifestyles of early Muslims, but their language is that of modern tech-savvy teenagers, with slang and
emoticons interspersed with Arabic religious terms spelt out in English letters. Ms Havlicek describes it as “a kind of jihadi subculture
cool”, with the Arabic words inserted to provide a sense of authenticity and being “part of the gang”.

Muhajirah Amatullah describes herself on Twitter as “just a random Muhajirah [emigree to the Islamic state] /wife/mother who has
access to the internet. I pose no threat to your National Security: D Chillax!”

In another tweet she projects an image of a contented homemaker. “Mashallah! [by God’s will]. Beautiful blue sky Raqqa today. What
to do? Do the washing of course! Spoken like a true domestic pro!”

But juxtaposed with the domesticity and observations about the oranges and bananas in Raqqa’s markets there is praise of the bravery
of Isis soldiers who are real “men”, unlike enemy troops.

“Thy [sic] sleep w/eyes open+chop heads off”, she writes.

In an apparent response to critics opposed to the enslavement of prisoners of war taken by Isis, she posts
excerpts from what appears to be a religious study permitting slavery: “Repost: Islamic rulings re POW
(inc Slaves Men/Women/Children). B4 condemn/reject/oppose – lets learn!”

Umm Hussain al-Britani, identified in the British press as a 45-year-old Muslim convert Sally Jones,
one-time singer in a band, opines on her Twitter feed on October 13 that “taking female Kafirs
[unbelievers] as slaves is ibadah”, or an act of worship.

Experts say an estimated 60 British women have joined Isis, though all numbers are uncertain. Women
are also known to have travelled from Sweden, France, Belgium, Canada and the US. Reports say British
women have joined the all-female al-Khansaa brigade charged with enforcing Islamic rulings on women
in Raqqa.

Online, too, jihadi women appear to be trying to enforce moral rules. A Twitter account that goes by the
handle @irhabbyukhts, meaning Terrorist Sisters – an apparent attempt at irony – is dedicated to
naming and shaming jihadi men who flirt online with girls.

It warns: “Ya Akhawat [sisters] 140 letters cannot define the Deen [religiosity] and Akhlaq [morals] of anyone on Twitter. Don’t get
fooled, Shaytan [ the devil] spares no one! “

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Posted October 28, 2014 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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