LONDON (AP) — The notion that young women are traveling to Syria solely to become “jihadi brides” is simplistic and hinders efforts to prevent other girls from being radicalized, new research suggests.
Young women are joining the so-called Islamic State group for many reasons, including anger over the perceived persecution of Muslims and the wish to belong to a sisterhood with similar beliefs, according to a report released Thursday by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue and the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College London.
Western societies must understand these varied motivations if they hope to prevent more women from joining the militants and potentially returning to their home nations to commit acts of terrorism, argue the report’s authors, Erin Saltman and Melanie Smith. Thinking of them as all being brainwashed, groomed, innocent girls hinders understanding of the threat they pose.
“They’re not being taken seriously,” Smith said. “It’s inherently dangerous to label people with the same brush.”
The researchers suggest that while the term jihadi bride may be catchy from a media point of view, the young women who are traveling to Syria see themselves as something more: pilgrims embarking on a mission to develop the region into an Islamic utopia…