Becoming Mulan? Female Western Migrants to ISIS

Authored by: Carolyn Hoyle, Alexandra Bradford, and Ross Frenett

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Migration, National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Violent Extremism
Country: Syria, Iraq
Region: North America
Year: 2015
Citation: Hoyle, Carolyn, Alexandra Bradford, and Ross Frenett. Becoming Mulan? Female Western Migrants to ISIS. London: Institute for Strategic Dialogue, 2015.

Access the Resource:

Executive Summary

The current flow of foreigners to Syria and Iraq is remarkable not only for its scale but also for its inclusion of many women. Much has been written about the male fighters who migrate to engage in the conflict there; these fighters are prolific on social media and share details of their day-to-day experiences with supporters and opponents alike. Less, however, is known about the women who travel to join ISIS and support its state-building efforts. The number of Western migrants overall is estimated at 3,000, with as many as 550 of these being women. This report aims to provide insight into the female migrants, examining the reasons they migrate, the reality of their lives in ISIS-controlled territory, and the potential risk they pose. While there is a large online ecosystem of female ISIS supporters, this study will focus specifically on Western women who are believed to be currently residing in ISIS-controlled territory.