Women of the Islamic State: A Manifesto
February 8, 2015 5:04 AM   Subscribe

Women of the Islamic State: A manifesto on women by the Al-Khanssaa Brigade is a manifesto by women, for women "that aims to clarify the realities of life and the hallowed existence of women in the Islamic State, in Iraq and in al- Sham, and to refute the rumours that detractors advance against it."

As a piece of propaganda, the document, translated here for the first time - provides a valuable insight into how IS is speaking to women in the Islamic world and providing insight into the reality of life for women under IS rule.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory (58 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
Most eponysterical post ever.
posted by localroger at 5:07 AM on February 8, 2015 [32 favorites]

if only :(
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 5:10 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Actually, it's refreshingly up-front about its crazy, most likely as the foreward analysis suggests because it's not intended for Western audiences. This isn't their version of Huckabee on the stump, this is their version of what goes on inside the revival tent, in all its self-destructive malevolent glory.

Somewhat like the Scientologists with their weird alt vocabulary, the OP isn't intended to make sense to someone who isn't already pretty well indoctrinated in certain basic tenets. If you take the axioms at face value -- truth is to be found only in the Koran, not in one's own experience -- then the conclusions fall naturally. If you question the axioms even slightly, though, the crazy shines through and the whole thing looks ridiculous, which is why people like IS are so defensive about their beliefs.

Before we get feeling all superior though it's well to remember that it wasn't all that long ago that Christians weren't any better. What Islam needs to work its way out of this logic trap is some version of my namesake Roger Williams, a Puritan so fanatical in his belief that he literally believed only 144,000 people would ever be allowed into Heaven. His insight, that if God had for whatever unknowable reasons chosen to surround him with the Damned maybe it was His intention that His chosen children should learn to live among them productively and peaceably, is the reason we have a First Amendment instead of a patchwork of totalitarian protestant states in America.

Islam has not always seen the study of God's creation as a distraction from God, which is why we're still using Arabic numbers. But any time you take some book and decide it's the ultimate truth and LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU when the world contradicts your conclusions, it will end badly.
posted by localroger at 6:22 AM on February 8, 2015 [24 favorites]

Reminds me of a paper I read which compared the Nazi, collaborationist, and Partisan propaganda for and about women in occupied Slovenia. Nazi and collaborationist propaganda was very focused on how the Partisans were leading women astray from good Catholic upbringing, tricking women into becoming brutes, whores, and cannon fodder. The call to arms over tradition and whatnot fell on increasingly deaf ears: the Nazis (and the Italians before them, in those areas) had never been particularly respectful of even the conservative Slovenes, so why should we take you seriously? The Partisans only really had to point to the fact that the Nazis were both terrible and losing: that was enough to get ladies to pick up Tommy guns, and to get many men to be fine with that. Nothing quite like a unity of interests to get people to team up.

Anyway, the point being, ISIS drapes a veneer of tradition and anti-Western sentiment over what is essentially a brochure for a group that regularly schedules murderous orgies. Competing propaganda needs to pierce that veil.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:27 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yeah but it's not speaking to women in the Islamic world though is it? It's speaking to a bunch of alienated, rather naive and ignorant, immature kids.
posted by glasseyes at 6:44 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

That was an interesting read, if interesting is the word for it. The piece is fantastically hypocritical and internally inconsistent. And it really gets into Saudi Arabia at the end. They only thing the attracts greater ire is the "Westernisation of women".

A few things that IS evidently abhors that get specifically mentioned in the document:
The West (obviously)
paper money
the Arabian Peninsula
the “geniuses” of Europe
medical research
muslims having friendly relationships with the infidels (obviously)
anyone trying to uncover the secrets of nature
women who don't prostrate to her husband
women who don't stay at home
women who expose their skin to the sun
women who travel
women who get degrees
women who "try to prove that her intelligence is greater than a man’s"
cosmetic surgery
selective shaving
any idea of equality between men and women
the soldiers of the Antichrist (I think we can all agree on that one)
women working with men
men working with women
pictures of women in ID cards
Saudi television channels of prostitution

On the plus side, the men won't be any older than 20 when they marry their 9 year old wives.
posted by kisch mokusch at 6:45 AM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

The Quilliam Society is associated with the right-wing "neo-con" Henry Jackson Society:
A key rhetorical tactic in HJS publications is to link acts of terrorism with the spread of Islam, in Europe as well as the United States. This has been noted by a former HJS member, Marko Attila Hoare, who in a letter written after resigning from the group noted the Islamophobia of HSJ associates like Douglas Murray, who has argued that "Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board. … We in Europe owe—after all—no special dues to Islam. We owe them no religious holidays, special rights or privileges. … So don't flatter them."
This sort of "scholarly" analysis is ultimately just a cover for militarism and a general anti-muslim agenda, exploiting the lunatic qualities of an organization like ISIL.
posted by ennui.bz at 6:46 AM on February 8, 2015 [15 favorites]

From my first link above: A study from the Queen Mary University of London has found that suffering from depression, being financially comfortable, well-educated and socially isolated were common factors among those sympathetic to acts of terrorism, identified by researchers as the first of two stages of early radicalisation. The second, it said, was contact with radical, unorthodox beliefs.

Those whose families had lived in the UK for generations were more vulnerable than migrants, the report found.

...At a briefing organised by the Science Media Centre, at the Wellcome Collection in London, Bhui said that parents worried about their children should look out for signs of depression or disaffection and warned that those who indulged in fantasy worlds or alternative identities were more at risk

posted by glasseyes at 6:53 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Really, some kind of category error going on in some of the comments here. If you want to understand what sort of threat ISIS is, find out who armed them.
posted by glasseyes at 6:59 AM on February 8, 2015 [9 favorites]

For women working:

3) It must take into account necessities - for the illness of a child, travel of her husband. She must have holidays.
4) She must be given two years maternity leave, at least, to rear and feed the child, and only resume if the child has started to be able to rely on himself for the most important things.
5) There must be a place to put the children at work until they reach school age, where they can be checked upon from time to time to stop the problems that arise from small children being by themselves in the house or someone to care for them.

So flexible working, paid holidays, maternity leave, and workplace daycare? Don't let US women see this. Marrying off your nine year old daughters is a small price to pay.
posted by Thing at 7:02 AM on February 8, 2015 [5 favorites]

"just a cover for militarism and a general anti-muslim agenda"--I am not at all sure ISIS needs to worry about neo-con's stirring up inappropriate militarism and anti-muslim propaganda. They seem to be doing that quite well on their own. I will assume you are correct re: the nature of the article but this is hardly like throwing petrol on a fire--I would say it is a drop in the proverbial bucket.
posted by rmhsinc at 7:15 AM on February 8, 2015

Really, some kind of category error going on in some of the comments here. If you want to understand what sort of threat ISIS is, find out who armed them.

if you have something to say, say it. this sort of coy - you're all doing it wrong and i know why but you should just look into it - type of bs helps no one.
posted by nadawi at 7:19 AM on February 8, 2015 [31 favorites]

Two years of maternity leave - wow! Too bad the terms are bundled with what seems to be lifelong house arrest.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:41 AM on February 8, 2015 [8 favorites]

Even before I get to the insane gender stuff, it always puzzles me who ISIS thinks will build their tanks and weapons of Jihad if all their people are to shun all science and learning (even learning that originated in Islamic states) as non-Islamic because it's not in the Q'uran. You can capture some from the enemy, but not even that lasts forever.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:43 AM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

And on another note, i know all the 'two years maternity leave! wow! don't let American women know!' stuff is a joke, but it often falls really really flat when you think of what ISIS is doing to women, men, and children who don't fit within their system of thought and belief. And how it's creating a world for women that make The Handmaid's Tale look like a romp through the park.

(I know other societies have done horrible things to women. And are doing them. And many of them aren't ISIS. It doesn't make what they do any better though.)
posted by lesbiassparrow at 7:51 AM on February 8, 2015 [14 favorites]

I am not at all sure ISIS needs to worry about neo-con's stirring up inappropriate militarism and anti-muslim propaganda. They seem to be doing that quite well on their own. I will assume you are correct re: the nature of the article but this is hardly like throwing petrol on a fire--I would say it is a drop in the proverbial bucket.

one of the many intellectual problems with propaganda, and this kind of propaganda in particular, is the more time you spend responding it, the more you amplify it's agenda. you can take a nominally objective scholar, task them to analyse the ideology of a group like ISIL as an example of the "ideology of extremism" and there may be nothing particularly debatable about the analysis. but, the context is to suggest that the current violence in Syria and the Middle East as it stands is somehow the product of ideology, and Islamic ideology in particular.

ISIL is crazy and evil, it hardly needs analysis. but they didn't invade Iraq, or pulverize Gaza or overthrow a democratic regime in Egypt, or are desperate to maintain a hereditary monarchy in control the world's most exploitable oil reserves. They are only one of several despotic regimes grasping for power, some using billions in dollars of US military hardware and under the cover of "Western" support. And they aren't one of several giant nation states with massive military forces and geopolitical "interests," playing a game of power over the globe.

It's like Karl Rove says, politics is TV with the sound off. It may not be "rational" to go from analysing the particulars of ISILs beliefs, to believing that Islam is at the core of what is happening in the Middle East. but it's exactly the framing that the groups backing "think tanks" like the Quillam Foundation are trying to promote.

in the end it's Pepsi Red, as in blood.
posted by ennui.bz at 7:52 AM on February 8, 2015 [13 favorites]

Gosh, does the manifesto mention Islamic State's regular policy of rape, kidnapping, forced marriage and selling of women into slavery?

Interviews with women who escaped reveal that Isis corralled the women into halls and other detention centres and gradually sold them off to fighters as the spoils of war. Isis said in an online article that it was reviving an ancient custom of enslaving enemies and forcing the women to become wives of victorious fighters.

No? What a shock.
posted by mediareport at 7:58 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

nadawi: I think I've been very plain in the three comments that I've made.

To me it is puzzling that a group who display not just naivety and ignorance but plain unbalanced craziness have managed to make such gains. Their propaganda, as I've mentioned above, has a particularly circumscribed appeal and does not explain how they've managed to recruit. Rather, it makes you wonder how on earth they have managed to recruit.

In this they're not unlike Boko Haram further south. So it is very worth while to consider who, strategically, is going to be left standing when the bombs have all gone off, and how come ISIS is so very well resourced. Where are the funds coming from? Who armed them? Whose strategy is playing out? The kneejerk "Look at the terrible/ridiculous islamicists, oh well what else could you expect," does nothing to promote discussion imo.
posted by glasseyes at 8:04 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Who armed them?

The US did, though we temporarily loaned the weapons to the Iraqi army first.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:06 AM on February 8, 2015 [2 favorites]

Yup. And the whole of North Africa's been destabilised by taking out key players and the whole continent's paying with lives upon lives.
posted by glasseyes at 8:09 AM on February 8, 2015

What does North Africa have to do with Boko Haram (in Nigeria) or ISIS (in Iraq/Syria)?
posted by sobarel at 8:14 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I thought it was an open secret that IS were (initially) funded by some Saudi princes and a variety of super rich Emeratis in an attempt to replace Assad with a conservative Sunni regime. Or have I got that wrong? Hadn't Qatar hosted huge fund raising conferences for IS? Anyway, now the IS is levying taxes on their subjects, getting mad oil revenue, and have acquired former Iraqi and Syrian military hardware. Plus they were doing pretty well with kidnapping ransoms until recently.

I really do not understand why Saudi and the emirates are western allies. Wouldn't Iran be a better oil-friend if you have to have one?
posted by molecicco at 8:29 AM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I really do not understand why Saudi and the emirates are western allies. Wouldn't Iran be a better oil-friend if you have to have one?

For one thing, the West had installed a pro-Western government in Iran, but it was not a very nice one, and then Iranians had other ideas.

Interestingly, there has been murmuring that ISIS might force the US and Iran to bury at least a few hatchets. We'll see.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:34 AM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

To answer another direct question, I did not mean that ISIS is directly affecting Boko Haram. But there is unrest and a power vacuum in Libya, feeding into alliances and arms and resources trading further south. This directly affects what resources are available to Boko Haram, complicating an already unstable situation in Chad, Mali, Sudan and Central African Republic. I understand this is a derail so won't mention it further, mods pls delete if you think fit.
posted by glasseyes at 8:44 AM on February 8, 2015

Rather, it makes you wonder how on earth they have managed to recruit.

In the deleted thread somebody commented that they are an example of the type Khmer Rouge. When you grow up with bombs dropping any time you are traumatized. When you have a traumatized society this may be what you get. They are monsters. They have grown in monstrous circumstances. Sometimes monstrous circumstances produce monsters.

That isn't an excuse but maybe it is an explanation.
posted by bukvich at 8:46 AM on February 8, 2015 [7 favorites]

looks like they're Feminising Islamic Militarism.

Global Terrorism Data Shows The Reach Of Terrorism Is Expanding. And it's already politicized in the United States

two from Jim Wright at Stonekettle Station: Dominos
By the time the 1960s arrived, our full involvement was nearly inevitable.
And so we went into Vietnam.
It was supposed to be quick, they were just peasants with pointy sticks after all. And we were Americans, Goddamnit, we had a modern military and nuclear weapons and Aircraft carriers. We’d train them to speak English, how to fight, and they’d beat back the commies.
And America would be safe again.
A police action and military advisors quickly turned into actual war and more than a decade of bloody combat.
And we couldn’t get out.
We won every battle, but we couldn't win the war
and The Fears of Small Men
So, Senator Cruz suggests we start revoking American citizenship. Why we’ll make them no longer Americans! The dirty Muslim bastards, that'll fix ‘em! That’ll fix ‘em good!
Not to be a wet blanket or anything but before we start revoking citizenship, I have a couple of questions.
Gary Brecher, The War Nerd, looks at the survival rate of western jihadis in mideast combat and recommends upgrading them to business class.

War On The Rocks:ISIL: Does the US Understand the Kind Of War It's Fighting?. Maybe, if Obama's Strategy For Defeating ISIS Is The Only Viable Option It doesn't help that they started in an Iraqi prison, under the nose of Americans and that they engage in sophisitcated media operations.

So how do we understand The Politics of Barbarism? Read the translation of The Management of Savagery[PDF], the calculated madness that really explains ISIS. They say they want a new caliphate, but what about the old one?
ISIS/ISIL/Daesh is having effects (and sending fighters to attack the West)throughout the region: Washington Post: The ISIS-ification of Islamist politics. And How Stable Is Saudi Arabia? Will ISIS take the war south through an Iraqi Army That Never Was while Saudi Arabia is on the edge of an abyss? And Why is Israel so quiet while Jordan and the UAE join (or rejoin) the fight. The death of a Jordanian pilot by immolation has ISIS questioning tactics as hostages dwindle. And in [Kurd] Liberated Kobani, Pride Despite The Devastation

more at Omnivore: The Alarming Evolution Of Terrorism
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:21 AM on February 8, 2015 [20 favorites]

BTW, there are some good arguments for referring to this group of assholes as Daesh instead of IS, ISIS, or ISIL.
posted by benito.strauss at 9:40 AM on February 8, 2015 [4 favorites]

How To Destroy The Islamic State: tl;dr reform international systems, governments, religions.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:43 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

posted by double block and bleed at 9:46 AM on February 8, 2015

"Refreshingly upfront and crazy"-the next soda-pop campaign.

We should be calling ISIS ISIL, Daesh as the people who hate it, in the areas where it exists, call it. That we call it otherwise wastes a valuable propaganda tool.

The United States has allied with groups absolutely no less brutal, just more rich and able to cover their practices, basically Saudi Arabia, who is the author of Daesh, to counter the "Shiite threat" to their way of life. Iran's segregated society is starting to look a whole lot better than the societies of the Sunni Monarchs, the Wahabbi Monarchs, who can build high walls to conceal the same acts. Daesh openly undertakes their sexuo/social opportunism, and despotism in a more freestyle, low budget, milieu. The previous sentence seriously white washes the reality of de-evolved societies simply coming out of the closet for all to see. Shock, shock, shock surprise this is what we support for the convenience and fortune building of the last one hundred years or so.

We are dirty and this monstrous treatment of women as chattle is the ideal of many, coming to a city near you. It is so tempting to laugh this off and point fingers, there are sex slaves all over the US, religious fanatics who do or would, deny rights to women if they could, people who mutilate the genitalia of women, and systematic denial of equal pay, and other benefits to women, granted to cis-gendered male Americans.

Thankfully, I am reminded of a Frank Zappa lyric,
"It can't happen here,
It can"t happen here,
I'm telling you my dear,
That it can't happen here.
Cause I been checkin' it, oh baby,
Checked it out a coupla times,
And I'm tellin' you, my dear,
That it can't happen here!"

Ha ha ha ha ha, yeah, point and laugh in that mirror of ours.
posted by Oyéah at 9:54 AM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Nice collection of links MTT. A bit off topic, pre SiSi days but an interesting story about women and the current subject matter.
Great post.
posted by clavdivs at 10:21 AM on February 8, 2015

Who armed them?
From what I've read, they've got mostly Soviet weapons from captured Syrian and pre-Gulf-War-II Iraqi stockpiles, with a large minority of American weapons from captured post-Gulf-War-II Iraqi stockpiles.
Whose strategy is playing out?
Two of the above groups no longer exist, two are on the ropes, and one is now a laughingstock as far as realpolitik goes.

ISIS, on the other hand, has expanding territory, lethal totalitarian power, sex slaves, and front row seats for the regular executions of their foes. That's vile and kind of unfashionable these days, but it's been enough to motivate wars through most of human history.
Their propaganda, as I've mentioned above, has a particularly circumscribed appeal and does not explain how they've managed to recruit.
Much like the wealth/power/sex/vengeance I mentioned above, the important propaganda theme here seems to be timeless: "join us and be rulers, or back off and be followers, or fight us and be dead".

The religious themes don't need to have that much appeal, either. Worldwide, tenets like "becoming an ex-Muslim should be a capital crime" and "adulterers should be stoned" are terrifyingly popular. It only takes a fraction of a percent of those to be active fanatics to provide as many soldiers as ISIS could want.
posted by roystgnr at 10:30 AM on February 8, 2015

From the Guardian article:

The concept Isis used to justify the massacre of hundreds of Shaitat tribesmen in Deir Ezzor, Syria, in August was tashreed, a word that can be translated as “deterrence”, as mentioned in the quoted text.

Anyone know the Arabic translation of shock and awe?
posted by bukvich at 10:50 AM on February 8, 2015

What does North Africa have to do with Boko Haram (in Nigeria) or ISIS (in Iraq/Syria)?

This is an excellent question. As in seriously excellent, no joke, people should really read up on this if you want to understand just how fiendishly complex this all is.

I mentioned it in another MeFi thread earlier, but John Ruedy's "Modern Algeria" is well worth a read, and so you have an idea of where this is headed: it's required reading for US intelligence agents who have anything to do with Islamist extremist groups.

The brutal colonization of Algeria happened just before, and then parallel to the installation of pro-Western dictatorships in oil-rich North African-Middle Eastern countries (Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, etc.). France mainly wanted Algeria for three reasons: it was in debt to Algeria, Algeria has vast natural resources, and at the time (mid-1800s), France had a glut of working-aged men and nowhere to put them. In order to get rid of its debt to Algeria, France invaded it, claimed land for itself, and then set in on ethnic cleansing that would see Algeria's pre-colonization population of 3 million reduced by half. At one point the French army was pulling up olive orchards, burning them, chasing farmers off their land, and finding them where they hid in caves: they would then throw in grenades and wait until everyone burned inside, shooting those who tried to escape.

Once the original Muslim population had been brutalized, France then set about "civilizing Islam" by destroying as many Sufi – tolerant, open, very much like Universalist Unitarian but for Islam – Quranic schools as they could (no exaggeration), destroying mosques, and limiting imams to under 200 for the entire country. Imams had to be approved by France. Guess which type of Islam France favored. If you guessed "simplistic and extremist," you would be correct.

Algeria and tolerant Islam survived there, in large part because many Muslim Algerians nonetheless held to tolerant beliefs. But "survival" still does not equate to a majority. Algeria finally had its revolution: pre-revolution, in 1954, literacy rates for European colonists were around 90%. Literacy rates for Muslims (France did population counts using that term) were 14% for men, 5% for women. And France claimed they had "civilized" the country.

Other Western powers have used the same tactics elsewhere. Simplify Islam to the point where it looks brutal and uncivilized, carry out a propaganda campaign focusing on the worst of the worst, then roll in to "save impoverished countries" from it. Look at what's actually been happening. How many decades have superpowers been "saving" Afghanistan and Iraq? It's so obviously the Orwellian tactic "Eastasia is at war with Oceania! Eastasia has always been at war with Oceania!" that it is a travesty beyond description.

Meanwhile, finally having won its independence 50-odd years ago, Algeria has been rebuilding itself and is one of the more peaceful North African countries nowadays.
posted by fraula at 11:08 AM on February 8, 2015 [23 favorites]

I didn't read very much of the document, but I kind of love the lame clip art on the front cover.
posted by mythical anthropomorphic amphibian at 1:53 PM on February 8, 2015

Wow ! You made me seriously eager to look into it, Fraula. But - and I like Algeria, as much as you know some French people do - to state that it's been peaceful since it's independent : well, its peace comes with a price to pay, as I guess it's always the case. Of course, history is a glorious mess, and France, once again, has blood on both hands. But, and I know this because I've met some people my father's age who have been sent to Algeria during the war, soldiers are often victims even when they're sent by the oppressor.
And I was thinking about Orwell too while I was reading this thread, wondering if middle-east is going to live forever in one of his novels, if they will eventually have their own Orwell or if we need a new one ourselves.
posted by nicolin at 2:06 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

Needs more PYD.
posted by wuwei at 2:43 PM on February 8, 2015

and how come ISIS is so very well resourced. Where are the funds coming from? Who armed them?

You know, the answers to these questions aren't exactly hard to find.

ISIS looted millions of dollars and possibly hundreds of millions of dollars from cities they captured. They also used to make millions a day in oil revenue although I believe that has been interdicted by American air power.

They armed themselves with Soviet equipment they looted from Syria and American equipment they looted from Iraq.
posted by Justinian at 4:41 PM on February 8, 2015 [3 favorites]

I was hoping this kind of fpp would give pause to conspiracy theories about how Daesh was created by the CIA to help the defense industry sell more guns, or whatever. I guess not.
posted by Golden Eternity at 6:13 PM on February 8, 2015

I used to call them "warfighters". Now I call them "ISIScreators".
posted by telstar at 7:14 PM on February 8, 2015

File this under "Ostensibly Righteous Cause Draws Middle Class Youth Suffering From Ennui" and "Daeshbaggery Isn't Just A Male Problem"

I suppose "Incongruous Things America Is Blamed For Because Everything is Connected, Man" too, sadly.
posted by ethansr at 11:06 PM on February 8, 2015 [1 favorite]

I mentioned it in another MeFi thread earlier, but John Ruedy's "Modern Algeria" is well worth a read, and so you have an idea of where this is headed: it's required reading for US intelligence agents who have anything to do with Islamist extremist groups.

I recently watched "The Battle of Algiers." It's a great film, and I think it provides good context on the impact of colonialism in the ME, and historical perspective on insurgency/counter-insurgency and terrorism.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:08 PM on February 8, 2015

This Daesh backgrounder from Gary Brecher is worth a read.
posted by flabdablet at 8:22 AM on February 9, 2015 [2 favorites]

The two big holes in the strategy against IS, Kenneth Roth, openSecurity
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:17 AM on February 10, 2015

Scenes from Daily Life Inside ISIS-Controlled Mosul - "Molly Crabapple sketches a source’s descriptions and images of life in Mosul, an Iraqi city transformed under militant control."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:22 PM on February 10, 2015

ISIS is here to stay
That is the conclusion of the book “ISIS. Inside the Army of Terror” by journalists Michael Weiss and Hassan Hassan.
I'm not quite sure what to think of Weiss and Hassan. They've both written some great, knowledgeable articles on Iraq and Syria, yet they also seem to have some sort of neoconservative-Arab nationalist agenda.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:18 AM on February 11, 2015

Feminising Islamic Militarism
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:09 AM on February 12, 2015

Just saw this tweeted by a Daesh "fanboy:" humbled muslimah
posted by Golden Eternity at 3:52 PM on February 12, 2015

I love the War Nerd and I love the first 4/5 of that article. I am sick and tired of American Narcissism.

However, there is one thing there that I take exception to. I'm not persuaded by his residual colonialism theory. He says that IS foreign fighters disproportionately hail from countries which have recent histories of active imperialism: Belgium, but not Italy. It seems overly reductionistic, and his examples seem fairly cherry-picked, or defined in a conclusory manner. For example, I don't buy the idea that, within living memory, Italy has less of an imperialistic past than Belgium: just ask the North Africans or the South Slavs.

It seems more like foreign IS fighters are often middle-ish class bullies who do not otherwise have positive identities of their own within their communities. I use "positive" here meaning not just good, but also "I am X, I am Y", as opposed to "I am not X, I am not Y". In other words, if you have a secure place within your community, then you're much less likely to run off to join some idiotic foreign army. However, if you're the kind of rowdy young man who would otherwise drift towards some variety of loosely organized criminal activity, then you might indeed be attracted to nasty, daffy ideas of "glory" and violence.
posted by Sticherbeast at 4:33 AM on February 13, 2015 [1 favorite]

Watch An Old Lady School ISIS
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:53 AM on February 13, 2015

My ISIS boyfriend: A reporter’s undercover life with a terrorist
Erelle, 32, is a journalist with a weekly news magazine in Paris who specializes in covering the Middle East. ... She decided to join the young Muslim community online and created a fake profile on Facebook and Twitter.
“This is why girls go there,” says Erelle. “It’s the dream of a good life. They are persuaded that it’s a paradise and that they don’t have any future in Britain or France and they won’t find good husbands and can never be good Muslims surrounded by infidels. Bilel told Melodie she could have a beautiful life, a big apartment and lots of children.”
posted by Golden Eternity at 10:41 PM on March 7, 2015

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