Jihad of the Mujaidaat
Female suicide bombers have recently had an increased impact in the Iraq War.
By Patrick Grumley and Matt Leighton
s the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War billowed into civil unrest in Washington, a female suicide bomber blew herself up in the town of Balad Ruz just northeast of Baghdad, killing at least five people. Perhaps such action from female suicide bombers (known as the Mujaidaat) symbolizes the current strength of al-Qaida's efforts to rid the Middle East of American presence.
In an attempt to keep in line with Quranic doctrine, al-Qaida and other terrorist networks have been reluctant to use women to carry out bombings. Since the United States invasion of Iraq, women have accounted for 18 bombings of both soft and hard targets. However, the chronology of these attacks is heavily weighted toward the present day. In 2007, the Mujaidaat accounted for seven suicide bombings. Correspondingly, the recent March 19th bombing was the second attack that had taken place that week (which is the first time two female suicide bombers had successfully hit their targets in the same week) and already the eighth attack in 2008.
Farhana Ali, a terrorism specialist (and perhaps foremost authority on the study of female terrorists) at RAND Corporation claims female bombers give the jihadists a "tactical edge" in gaining a status of power in the war in Iraq. Women have less difficulty approaching their targets because bombs can easily be concealed under a burqa (a robe worn by some Muslim women that covers the body from head to toe), and can make explosive devices appear as nothing more than a pregnant belly.
Ali also points out that there is much more to al-Qaida's transition to the Mujaidaat than just strategic effectiveness. In the Hadith and Wahhabist texts (schools of Islamic thought) there is nothing more important to a mother than her son. She further notes, "When a woman loses her son to occupation forces for whatever reason, it may be … such an enormous loss and grief that it could only be motivation she needs to exact revenge."
Ali and other analysts have also noticed that the recruitment process for female jihadists has been unlike what they have seen in the past. Baghdad military spokesman Maj. Bradford Leighton (who is of no known relation to your St. James' columnist) told The Washington Times that, "Most suicide bombers tend to be male foreigners from either northeast Africa or Saudi Arabia. With women, it appears terrorists are recruiting Iraqi women as well as foreigners."
Furthermore, intelligence has gathered cases of Iraqi women, who have mutually lost a son or husband to jihad, talking over the Internet about considering joining the cause of the Mujaidaat.
1) Jihad of the Mujaidaat