The Radical Imams in Iraq have increased their cowardice in recent times. They used to be content sitting far away from the action while sending young men to blow themselves and others up in homocide bombings. Now they send young women to take their lives (some of them mentally handicapped who don’t know what they are doing). Which at least in my mind brings up two questions, do they get 72 virgin Chippendale dancers? and if blowing yourself up is such an Honor, why aren’t the crazy Imams doing it?
By Farhana Ali
As the war in Iraq continues, more Iraqi women will be ready to make the ultimate sacrifice: to use their bodies as human shields. The U.S. Government and other experts are asking: Why now? Why has there been a spike in attacks in Iraq committed by women? More importantly, how will the new role of women as suicide bombers change the nature of this conflict? Since March 2003, when the war began, Iraqi women’s participation in suicide terrorism has increased by nearly 30%. This year, alone, there have been eight attacks committed by women, compared to six in 2007. The exponential increase in female suicide bombings suggests the trend will continue to rise, unless security officials, the Iraqi Government, and the international community seek new solutions to counter the rising violence by an important non-state actor. Over the past year, publicly available data of Iraqi female bombers has shown that women are now the driving force of suicide terrorism. To understand the psychological factors that stimulate such acts, there are three likely motivations relevant in Iraq: a mother’s love for her children—a cathartic desire for revenge that has motivated mothers, who had lost children to sectarian violence, to become suicide bombers; a woman’s love for her country—like men, Iraqi women are also die-hard nationalists and have the right to protect their families against sectarian attacks and foreign occupation; a woman’s love for her body—suicide terrorism becomes an act of restitution for women who perceive violence as a way to cleanse themselves of sinful acts. An additional explanation is related to men’s exploitation of women’s vulnerability and exposure to violence by other groups, foreign troops, and/or Iraqi security. Read More »
These factors can be summarized in the following way:
• Extremes of maternal love. The cathartic revenge mothers feel for losing their son(s) is exceptional. No one is of more value to an Iraqi woman than her son, for whom she will “rip out her heart,” according to a former professor of Baghdad University. The loss of a son, a mother’s prized possession, is turning young mothers into “cannibals,” according to the Baghdad University scholar. She says, “These women have no reason to live,” and are therefore more susceptible to violence. • Survival instinct. During Saddam’s era, many women were given light arms training to protect their families from the threat of Iran. Today, these same women are in charge of protecting not only their families (i.e., when a husband dies or is not available) but also are die-hard nationalists. Consider the first suicide attack by two women in March 2003. Both young women asserted their national duty to save their country from the U.S.-led occupation. In the early days of the conflict, other Iraqi women expressed their primal fear of being ruled by an external force and were thus willing to conduct acts of violence in defense of their homeland.
• To die for Iraq. Information on Arabic websites from Iraqi-based Sunni insurgents and Shia militias suggests that their women are ready to sacrifice themselves for the “love of their country and faith.” The Abu al-Boukhari Islamic Network indicates that because Islam is under attack form the Crusaders, women have an obligation to defend their faith. Therefore, the restriction imposed on women to stay in their homes is lifted in jihad. A rare martyrdom video from 2003 shows Wadad Jamil Jassem saying, “I have devoted myself to Jihad for the sake of God and against the American, British, and Israeli infidels and to defend the soil of our precious and dear country.” Increasingly, the effect of the occupation and insurgent attacks against women (i.e., torture, rape, kidnapping) has invariably resulted in growing despair, disillusionment, and depression among Iraqi women, which could explain their decision for death over life. • Exploitation by men. On the Internet, male extremists encourage women to play an important role in the conflict in Iraq. Evidence on Sunni and Shia websites on the Internet are a clear indication that women, both Arab and Iraqi nationals, are increasingly participating in the conflict as fighters, suicide bombers, and “mothers of the martyrs.” Recent attacks this month suggest that the woman who killed a Sunni sheikh, and a separate attack which killed Shia worshippers near a shrine, was arguably planned by male extremists. This extreme and inexcusable exploitation of women is a fearsome nightmare for Iraqi security officials as well as U.S. military forces trying to counter female violence.
Aside from conducting suicide operations, Iraqi women are honored for taking care of male insurgents. For example, in a pro-insurgent web page known as the Iraqi League, an Iraqi woman from the city of Falluja is celebrated for remaining in the city during the siege. This woman provided her home to the insurgents, baked them bread, and buried them in her own garden; for her efforts, she has been called “the mother of martyrs.” Insurgents also encourage Muslim women to support their husbands in jihad. The Islamic Army in Iraq, for example, posted an article entitled “This is How Women Should Be” to carry this message. Other women support insurgents by offering to marry them, albeit temporarily. These women agree to marry Sunni men, accepting no dowry in exchange for a ‘temporary’ marriage. Sunni girls who choose to marry would-be insurgent fighters are seen as devout to their religion and their country—a sign that the girls’ only wish is to free Iraq from occupation.
While temporary marriages were banned during Saddam Hussein’s regime, it is a widely accepted practice in Shia culture. Known as a “muta’a” marriage, a couple is permitted to live together as husband and wife so long as they sign a contract and agree to a fixed term. This practice is used to recruit Mehdi Army fighters to encourage young men, who can not otherwise afford a heavy dowry, to join the militia. In one statement, Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr motivated Shia girls to agree to a temporary marriage to “provide enjoyment and pleasure in their bodies and money to the fighters who are sacrificing their souls for the Imam.” Finally, women’s inclusion in the war is intended to confuse the enemy and make it more difficult for Iraqi and coalition forces to identify the female bomber. It is the invisibility of female bombers in Iraq that poses a grave security concern. The anonymity of the female bomber protects her personal identity and cloaks the terror groups’ location, membership, and activities. Because she is an invisible non-state actor, a female supporter of terrorism makes it difficult for authorities to profile her. Only recently have security forces been able to suspect and stop women from detonating. On June 6, 2007, a woman dressed in the abaya who refused to respond to Iraqi police was shot at, causing the explosives underneath her dress to explode before she reached her target. A report from Aswat al-Iraq (Voices of Iraq) in January 2008 indicated that Iraqi police had intelligence information that ten female suicide bombers entered the province of Diyala, while in March, U.S. troops arrested a male recruiter of female suicide bombers north of Baghdad. According to the later report, the male cell leader intended to use his wife and another woman to conduct suicide attacks. So long as the war continues in Iraq, more women could become available and ready to commit suicide attacks. Because the trend is new, there is a dire need to understand why women—once the liberated females of the Middle East—are resorting to extraordinary wartime powers. Why women inevitably choose suicide terrorism and will lead others to do the same is an area of research that is so poorly understood, but that demands further attention to stop the steady speed in which suicide attacks in Iraq are perpetrated by women. The ultimate question is will an end to the occupation decrease the level of violence by women in Iraq? The U.S. withdrawal from Iraq may not necessarily restore women’s rights though America can play a leading role in helping women rebuild their lives by providing security, economic opportunities, educational freedom, and other wide-ranging reforms. A former Baghdad professor told the author, “Iraqi women were equal to men under Saddam’s regime; today, women are targeted for abuse and violence. We need to give women back what they deserve.”