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Fatal Attraction: What Draws Women to Terror?

Islam isn't exactly famous for its treatment of women-- especially Islamic State and other terrorist organizations. So what in the world would draw a Western woman voluntarily into its blood grasp?

Afghan burqa-clad women pose as they wait for transportation to their hometown in Kabul on October 13, 2011, after recently returning from Peshawar in Pakistan. According to a Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) recent report, in 2008/2009, 71,049 refugees voluntarily returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran without government and UN assistance, while 289,510 people were deported from Iran at Islam Qala and Zaranj borders. While the provincial Departements of Refugees and Repatriation have undertaken some efforts to assist deportees, the absolute majority of these people are economic migrants who went to Iran in hope of finding better livelihood options and the help offered is severely disproportionate to their financial needs.Credit: AFP/Getty Images

The world’s abuzz with a certain blockbuster film.

And that, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily groundbreaking—except when you consider the subject matter. It glorifies an existence of abuse and sexual subjugation. And yet the film made nearly $100 million in its first weekend.

As a popular internet meme put it, “Fifty Shades of Grey is only romantic because the guy is a billionaire. If he lived in a trailer, it would be an episode of Criminal Minds.”

That’s exactly right. In a western world that loves to talk about the perceived lack of female equality, isn’t it ironic that a film like this is such a phenomenon?

Switch gears with me for a moment.

Today, the World Health Organization finds that “between 100 and 140 million girls and women worldwide have been subjected to one of the first three types of female genital mutilation.” In Pakistan, it is estimated that roughly 1,000 women die a year in “honor killings,” where family members eliminate the offending female through murder. In Saudi Arabia, women are routinely flogged for accusations including “adultery” (which is often rape, but a female can’t substantiate the claim without several male witnesses), or even driving a car.

Afghan burqa-clad women pose as they wait for transportation to their hometown in Kabul on October 13, 2011, after recently returning from Peshawar in Pakistan. According to a Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) recent report, in 2008/2009, 71,049 refugees voluntarily returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran without government and UN assistance, while 289,510 people were deported from Iran at Islam Qala and Zaranj borders. While the provincial Departements of Refugees and Repatriation have undertaken some efforts to assist deportees, the absolute majority of these people are economic migrants who went to Iran in hope of finding better livelihood options and the help offered is severely disproportionate to their financial needs.Credit: AFP/Getty Images Afghan burqa-clad women pose as they wait for transportation to their hometown in Kabul on October 13, 2011, after recently returning from Peshawar in Pakistan.  AFP/Getty Images 

All of these are practices condoned and propagated by Islam. And while claims are made to separate these violent behaviors from the teachings of Islam (i.e. The Washington Post’s note that there is “no reference” to honor killings in the Koran, when in fact the Koran, in 18:65-81 lays the “theological groundwork” for what is now a revered component of Shariah law), the fact remains: it is unequivocally a part of the Islamic tradition around the world.

And regardless of the swirling debate around what Islam “is” or “isn’t,” the words of the Koran and the Hadith are clear—and women don’t amount to much at all.

Let’s go back to my “Fifty Shades of Grey” conundrum for a bit. Not unlike how it’s hard to understand why Westernized, liberated women flock to a film that condones and glorifies the abuse of a woman, isn’t it equally as difficult to grasp what Western women could possibly see in the likes of Islamic State?

[sharequote align="center"]At their core, each and every one of those things is just plain evil.[/sharequote]

After all, considering the way this religion treats women in general, and especially in light of the gruesome fight by Islamic State and other terrorist organizations to wage global jihad and return to fundamental Islamic principles . . . what gives?

Yet, over the past few months, the world has watched as young women leave everything behind, setting out to join arms with fundamentalist radical jihadi groups—usually as “jihadi brides” to young radical Islamic fighters.

There’s actually a website dedicated helping to MATCH these young girls with Islamic State and other jihadi fighters. It’s called “Jihad Matchmaker,” and they’re all about convincing girls to leave it all behind and marry an Islamic terrorist.

Again I ask: what gives?

The Religious Seeker

The Hadith teaches that Muhammad believed the majority of hell to be comprised of women (Vol. 1:28, 301; Vol. 2:161; Vol. 7:124). The Hadith also teaches that a husband’s pleasure or displeasure with his wife can determine her eternal salvation (Vol. 1, 2:60)

If a majority hell is filled with women, and if a husband has the power to decide whether his wife goes to heaven or hell… does it not follow that life as a faithful jihadi bride is a bit of an insurance policy?

It’s a thought.

Moreover, we have to understand the gravity of the goal of Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and any other global Islamic terror organization. They are bent on a global caliphate (and they’re steadily getting there, too). And, the push towards a global caliphate is increasingly recognizing (despite the fundamental view of women) that “women can help [Islamic State] cement its control over civilian populations in ways that men cannot,” and, “for all its cruelty to civilians, [Islamic State] knows that it needs some degree of popular support to maintain control, and it sees women as crucial to that.”

It’s a chance for a young girl to be a part of a bigger purpose not only here on earth (think geopolitical struggles), but in the spiritual realm as well. It is, in effect, the chance for a young girl to play “spiritual Mulan” for her faith.

And the terrorists are actively recruiting for the role.

The Thrill Seeker

Think of the attraction these girls see in terrorism as the “bad boy” infatuation you had in high school . . . except it’s on steroids. Quite a few women, especially in their younger years, find it thrilling to tempt fate and flirt with danger as they sneak out the bedroom window and hop on their boyfriend’s motorcycle. Or in this case, to hop on a plane to war-torn Syria to marry a terrorist.

It’s twisted; it’s sick—but think of the men at the other end of the jihadi bride phenomenon as a sort of tantalizing James Dean figure. These fighters have become idolized, and, as The Daily Mail Online put it, “one European fighter in Syria who has become a pin-up jihadi fighter has been bombarded with proposals from women all over the world, desperate to be associated with a 'holy warrior.'”

Considering the age of some of these young teen girls, it’s not an unlikely concept.

The Stability Seeker

Fundamental Islam paints women in a subservient light (Koran 2:228), and yet many of its adherents use enticing language to suggest that a woman should expect caring protection from strong male figures in their lives: “Such degree is Quiwama [maintenance and protection]. This refers to that natural difference between the sexes which entitles the weaker sex to protection.”

Moreover, Islam paints the restrictive codes of conduct for women as “liberating.” That is, in a world that objectifies the female body and shuns the idea of chivalry, living under a few rules (including the will of your husband) is a welcome change. And, what better way to seek that out than by joining ranks with or marrying into a “back-to-the-roots” fundamental Islamic group like Islamic State?

Regardless of the “surface” reasons why Western women (of all backgrounds) are drawn to terror, it is critical that we realize one common element.

Believe it or not, the reason behind the attraction is ultimately irrelevant. Dropping everything and joining a group that burns people alive in cages, beheads Christians on a beach and buries children alive comes from the very same place that inspires a mother to beat her children, a teen to torture an animal or a man to shoot a cop in cold blood.

At their core, each and every one of those things is just plain evil.

As I wrote a few weeks back, “evil is for real,” and its presence in our world is undeniable.

And it is a shockingly enticing thing.

Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show (TheBlaze Radio Network, Saturday, from noon to 3 p.m. ET). She can be reached at: afuturefree@aol.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree.

TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.

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