Gender politics and Al Qaeda

Unlike some other terrorist organisations, like the Red Army Faction, Al Qaeda does not go for chicks with guns. Women should stay at home, and raise warriors for jihad. Well, recently Al Qaeda’s No. 2 leader Ayman al-Zawahiri at a Q&A session reinforced this view. This has led to dismay in the ranks. Well, in the female ranks that are not meant to exist. And some of his franchise operations seem not to following the central directives:

In the Iraq branch, for example, women have carried out or attempted at least 20 suicide bombings since 2003. Al Qaeda members suspected of training women to use suicide belts were captured in Iraq at least three times last year, the U.S. military has said.

Hamas, another militant group, is open about using women fighters and disagrees with al Qaeda’s stated stance. At least 11 Palestinian women have launched suicide attacks in recent years.

“A lot of the girls I speak to … want to carry weapons. They live with this great frustration and oppression,” said Huda Naim, a prominent women’s leader, Hamas member and Palestinian lawmaker in Gaza. “We don’t have a special militant wing for women … but that doesn’t mean that we strip women of the right to go to jihad.”


The Internet is the only “breathing space” for women who are often shrouded in black veils and confined to their homes, “Ossama2001” wrote. She said al-Zawahiri’s words “opened old wounds” and pleaded with God to liberate women so they can participate in holy war.