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Women Engagement in Terrorism: What Motivates Females to Join in Terrorist Organizations? (From Understanding Terrorism: Analysis of Sociological and Psychological Aspects, P 167-175, 2007, Suleyman Ozeren, Ismail Dincer Gunes, et al., eds. -- See NCJ-225410)

NCJ Number
Kubra Gultekin
Date Published
9 pages
After reviewing the definition and root causes of terrorism, this literature review examines the motivating factors for females to become terrorists.
The review of definitions used for terrorism notes that there is no generally accepted definition of “terrorism” and “terrorist groups.” The study reports on definitions of terrorism used in the U.S. Code, proposed definitions of terrorism in United Nations deliberations, and definitions used by researchers. A review of the literature on the root causes of terrorism examines causes under the following categories: political, socioeconomic, and religious dimensions. Regarding female engagement in terrorism, the review notes that women’s participation in terrorist organizations is not a new phenomenon, but rather is as old as the history of terrorism. Women commit terrorist acts less often than men; however, women‘s proportional involvement is apparently increasing. Because almost all terrorist organizations have different goals and are motivated by various causes and ideologies, the recruitment process and the role of females in the organization differ from one terrorist group to another. In Europe, women have joined both leftist and rightist organizations, whose goals have varied from separatism to Marxist-Leninism. Women’s roles in North American terrorist groups vary. The leftist groups have links with international terrorism. Right-wing movements such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center involve a significant number of women. Latin American organizations have focused on recruiting and retaining women. The motivation of female terrorists in South-Asian terrorist groups differs from that of European and American female terrorists. The structures of the organizations are generally based on suicide bombing. Personal motives (e.g., family, rape, and financial issues) are the most dominant reasons for women to accept suicide missions. Freedom and liberation are motives among increasing numbers of Pakistani and Sikhs females. 37 references