Gender and Terrorism (Female Suicide Missions)

Self Recruited vs. Carefully Organized

Jihad Jane

Photo: 2010 Colleen R. LaRose, 46, Using e-mail, YouTube videos, phony travel documents and a burning desire to kill “or die trying,” a middle-aged American woman from Pennsylvania helped recruit a network for suicide attacks and other terrorist strikes in Europe and Asia.  http://www.brokencountry.com/index.php/2010/03/09/

Two Main Theories

Self Recruited

When one focuses on the motivation, organizational and individual level of these women in Chechen terror groups, two main theories arise. Speckhard, a researcher of Chechen female suicide terrorism, insists that the female participation in suicide terrorism acts is result of self-recruitment: “they are self-recruited on the basis of seeking a means of enacting social justice, revenge, and warfare against what they perceive as their nation’s enemy.”[vii]

Carfully Recruited

My research, conducted through published materials, led me to different conclusion. From 6 unsuccessful perpetrators, 4 were recruited and 2 self-recruited; 5 of them were trained for their missions. From 30 successful female bombers, 17 were recruited but there was no information about the other 13. The proof for  their being trained is rather indirect: participation in such an act as the Dubrovka assault or car bombing execution requires some technical skills to be acquired in advance.[viii] All of this points to female suicide acts have been carefully organized by Chechen rebels and field commanders. Revenge, social stigma, and the religion are elements of individual perpetrators’ motivation.

 For More on Recruitment Techniques


[vii]SPECKHARD, A. and K. AKHMEDOVA. 2006. Black Widows. The Chechen female suicide terrorists. In Yoram Schwetzer. Female suicide bombers: dying for equality, p. 69. http://www.tau.ac.il/jcss/memoranda/memo84.pdf 

[viii] DRONZINA, T. 2008. Female suicide terrorism. Military publishing House, Sofia, p.246

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