Participants, Enablers, and Preventers: The Roles of Women in Terrorism

Authored by: Ellie B. Hearne

Categories: Violent Conflict
Sub-Categories: Countering Violent Extremism, Early Warning, National Security Forces and Armed Groups, Violent Extremism
Region: No Region
Year: 2009
Citation: Hearne, Ellie B. Participants, Enablers, and Preventers: The Roles of Women in Terrorism. Aberystwyth, UK: British International Studies Association, 2009.

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Executive Summary

The role of women in terrorism is explored here through three distinct types of involvement: direct involvement in terrorist acts; enabling of others to commit such acts; and facilitating the disengagement of others from violent or extremist groups. This paper examines the wide spectrum of roles women play in terrorism – from women as intelligence gatherers, to the more recent phenomena of female suicide bombers and translators for more ‘active’ terrorists – and explores the idea that women are well-placed to both take part in terrorist violence (through direct participation in attacks or in facilitating terrorists), and reduce its impact (by preventing others from participating or by helping those who do join to disengage from violence).