The tendency to downplay the agency of female ISIS members was explored last week by my colleague Lydia Khalil (Repatriating female foreign fighters: political not personal). In media interviews, detained women or their families often make self-serving claims to have been brainwashed or duped. And although the age that they joined the terrorist group is an element to be taken into account, the ameliorating effects of youthful naivety are diminished depending on the type of crime they commit or group they support.
Youngsters joining a terrorist group such as ISIS are, and ought to be, considered differently to youthful offenders committing common crimes.
When women claim to have played only a subordinate or minor role in a terrorist group such as ISIS it is fair to be sceptical; everyone was expected to support the forceful establishment of Islamic rule in whatever way they could.