Isis 'using female jihadists to incite terror back home'
A frightening picture of the role of female jihadists in inciting terrorism in Europe has been uncovered by the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation (ICSR). Until now, the western women joining Isis have largely been portrayed as passive - travelling to marry jihadists and bear their children away from the frontline. But the ICSR work shows that many such women are part of the escalating threat.
Melanie Smith of the ICSR, the person in charge of the first known database of female foreign fighters, said: "Women tend to incite attacks, they say to people that can't move to Islamic State areas should do something at home. That's a common message: if you can't move to Syria, then carry out something."
Information from the database, which has details of 70 women - the youngest a French 15-year-old - suggests the portrayal of women as merely providing support and children for male fighters is becoming increasingly outdated.
Smith said: "I don't think anyone talks about women returning as a risk. While they might not have the same military training as men, you can see a lot of the women online being frustrated about the fact they can't fight and they suggest to each other that they could do something else. Historically women have been used in suicide bombings and singular operations."
The ICSR has identified a group of 30 female Britons in Syria some of whom, according to their social media accounts, have been masquerading as Isis recruiters and praising the Charlie Hebdo shootings, while encouraging the beheadings of westerners. The ICSR saw a spike in social media activity after the Paris shootings, and saw a significant number of UK women praising the attacks. Among them was a 16-year-old from Manchester who celebrated the shootings on Twitter.