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Cross-Regional Trends in Female Terrorism

NCJ Number
Studies in Conflict and Terrorism Volume: 26 Issue: 3 Dated: May-June 2003 Pages: 171-195
Karla J. Cunningham
Date Published
May 2003
25 pages
This article discuses the increased involvement of females in terrorist activities.
There has been scant academic attention paid to the involvement of women in terrorist activities. Investigating the reasons why women join terrorist organizations, the roles women play in these groups, and the reasons why terrorist organizations recruit and operationalize women in countries that are highly restrictive of women’s public roles are all valid questions for study. There are general assumptions concerning female terrorists such as the assumptions that women join terrorist organizations for personal reasons and the idea that women are more easily able to carry out terrorist attacks because they are often not considered credible perpetrators of terrorism. Since the September 11, 2001, attacks against the United States, terrorist organizations have become increasingly innovative, recruiting more and more women than ever before. Considering women’s roles in politics and political violence in Algeria, the patterns of operational female terrorism suggest that European terrorist organizations are among the oldest groups drawing female participation. After profiling the varied forms of female terrorism currently occurring in North America, Latin America, South Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, the author notes that growing ideological, logistical, and regional changes are increasing the female presence in terrorist activities. Terrorist organizations’ desires to recruit female terrorists are going hand-in-hand with contextual pressures that are motivating and encouraging women to more actively participate in political violence. 92 Notes


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