Behind the Veil: Women in Jihad after the Caliphate

Authored by: Lydia Khalil

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Violent Extremism
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2020
Citation: Khalil, Lydia. Report. Lowy Institute for International Policy, 2019. Accessed January 15, 2020. doi:10.2307/resrep19786.

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Executive Summary

Women have long played an important role in jihad, but the Islamic State has, since its inception, expanded both the potential and scope of those female roles. The caliphate may be no longer, but Islamic State’s military defeats have not dampened the appeal of jihad in many quarters. In fact, conditions are already set for an IS resurgence. There is a global cohort of over 73 000 women and children (10 000 of them foreigners) in Kurdish camps who surrendered after the fall of Baghouz. The Islamic State considers this cohort, as well as other female supporters, a key part of its future survival. As Islamic State shifts from governance project to global terrorist movement, women will continue to play an important part of that transformation. Greater female participation in jihad will have a profound influence on the jihadist threat and counterterrorism efforts. In future, national security efforts will need to take this into account in countering terrorism and violent extremism, as well as in rehabilitation programs