Beyond the Jihadi Bride: Our Distorted Understanding of Women’s Motivations to Join Extremist Organizations

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Media Outlet: The Journal on Terrorism and Security Analysis

This article aims to first, examine the growing phenomenon of female foreign fighters from the West to Iraq and Syria and second, discuss possible motivations and situational factors that contribute to the influx of women into terrorist organizations. Within that discussion, we seek to distinguish personal and private motivations from political and pragmatic ones. Finally, we briefly discuss how women might shape the future of the Islamic State and how situational factors present in certain countries, like Jordan or Lebanon for example, may make its female population more or less susceptible to joining the Islamic state.  

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Emily Schneider was a senior program associate for the International Security Program at New America.

Elizabeth Weingarten is the director of the Global Gender Parity Initiative, a project of the Better Life Lab where she is a senior fellow.