Counter-Terrorism: Dishonoring The Ladies


August 25,2008:  A surprising switch in al Qaeda terror tactics in Iraq has been the sharp increase in the use of women as suicide bombers. Between 2003-7, there were only eight female suicide bombers, So far this year, there have been about three dozen. There are apparently several al Qaeda cells that specialize in recruiting and training women for these tasks. Some intelligence analysts believe that al Qaeda got the idea from their Chechen members, who pioneered the use of female suicide bombers nearly a decade ago.

Back in 2000, the Chechen rebels in Chechnya, received several million dollars (from Persian Gulf philanthropists) to finance a suicide bomber unit. The Shahid (suicide attacker) battalion was formed as a result. The Iranian backed Hizbollah provided advice on how to run the operation. There were a few differences from Hizbollah methods in Lebanon, and similar groups in Palestine. Chechens are not as devout Moslems, for one thing. So religion could not be depended on as much when recruiting suicide bombers.

Locals who have lost a limb or an eye proved to be a good source of recruits. As with Hizbollah, people with mental problems are also useable, as long as their disability did not make them incapable of learning how to handle the explosives and following instructions. Widows or unmarried women who have lost their parents were another source of recruits. In Chechen culture, such women face bleak prospects. People who have been condemned to death by religious courts were given the option of being a suicide bomber to atone for their crime and provide some cash for their families. Another source of volunteers was men who have lost many family members to Russian troops and were keenly aware of the Chechen tradition of revenge. The region is cursed with many blood feuds and the Shahid battalion offerws a  way for anyone to settle a blood debt against the Russians. As an added inducement for all volunteers, the rebels provided cash payments ($500-$1,000) and promises to take care of surviving family members. The Russians destroyed the Shahid battalion after a few years, but not before there were several spectacular suicide bombings, including a few carried out by women.

In Iraq, al Qaeda found the best recruits were the widows of al Qaeda members. These widows were often Iraqi women who were forced, often at gunpoint, to marry al Qaeda members. These marriages took place in the last few years, as al Qaeda flooded into the country to fight a "final battle" against America. These "wives" were often used as sex slaves, and passed around among horny terrorists. The women got pregnant, often without knowing who the father was. On top of that, these al Qaeda wives were despised by their family and neighbors, who early on came to dislike this al Qaeda crowd. Naturally, many of these al Qaeda wives became depressed and vulnerable to recruiters looking for suicide bombers.




Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   Contribute   Close