Although a majority of ISIS recruits and supporters tend to be male, a growing number of women want to carry out jihad.
10 of the 71 recruits for the Islamic State (7%) arrested in the U.S. since 2014 have been women, according to a report that indicates the roles of women in the militant group’s ranks is increasing.
Since March 2014, authorities have charged 71 people with ISIS-related activities. This year alone, 56 of them were arrested — a record number of terrorism-related arrests for any year since 9/11, according to the report from George Washington University’s Program on Extremism.
ISIS sympathizers are also turning to social media to radicalize new recruits. Researchers found at least 300 accounts being used to recruit new ISIS members. Of those, about one third were operated by women, according to the report.
It is also thought the jihadi group believe that women are less likely to arouse suspicion.
The role of women in the Islamic State varies, according to the report, “from propaganda disseminators and recruiters to those as the ‘wife of jihadist husband’ and ‘mother to the next generation.’”
The figures suggest that women are increasingly playing a pivotal role in the jihadist group’s overseas attacks against Western targets.
It also shows an alarming rise in women who are willing to carry out terror attacks – like Tashfeen Malik, 27, the female shooter in the husband-and-wife rampage that left 14 people dead in San Bernardino, California this week.
It was revealed Thursday that Malik, a Pakistani who had entered the U.S. under a “fiancee” visa, pledged allegiance to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on Facebook before she and Farook carried out their shooting rampage.
Authorities say the couple may have been radicalized by Islamic extremists either in the U.S. or during trips to the Middle East, including to Saudi Arabia. Allegedly, Malik took the first shot in the Inland Regional Center, opening fire at a group who were gathered around a Christmas tree.