Earlier this month, London’s Institute for Strategic Dialogue published a report focused on Female Western Migrants to ISIS. The study contains a number of interesting findings, including this: “The number of Western migrants overall is estimated at 3,000, with as many as 550 of these being women.”
National Post journalist Stewart Bell highlights several compelling points in the study as part of his profile here, of a Canadian woman who pursued just such a path.
Both the report and Bell’s article observe that female migrants are taking on an increasingly active role in joining and supporting the so-called Islamic State. The report notes that “Perhaps the most important risk is that the female migrants can inspire others, both men and women, to carry out attacks in Western countries or to travel to Syria and Iraq.” Elaborating the point, Bell writes that “Even given their limited, mostly domestic roles, the women pose a security threat. They not only support ISIS atrocities, but actively promote them online.”
With women increasingly acting as sources of inspiration that help to drive and expand recruitment, the adversary may retain and gain momentum, as well as replenish losses on the battlefield and to law enforcement authorities worldwide.
Like al Qaeda before it, ISIS has been compared to a brand. Finding new and effective ways to expand market share, especially as a brand matures over time, is good business practice. By leveraging a large pool of previously underused assets, ISIS may reinvigorate existing adherents, and attract and involve new ones — thereby demonstrating business savvy, reaping profit, and staving off bankruptcy in all its forms (economic, ideological, etc.).