The Multifaceted Roles of Women Inside Al-Qaeda


Von Knop, Katharina. 2008. “The Multifaceted Roles of Women Inside Al-Qaeda.” Journal of National Defense Studies 6: 139-62.

Author: Katharina Von Knop


The purpose of this four-part article is to explore and analyze the multifaceted roles of women in the al-Qaeda movement. The first part offers an analysis of the ideology and identifies the role of women in the radical Islamist movement al-Qaeda. The second part endeavors to shed some light on the online activities of radical Islamist groups. This issue was explored in collaboration with the Dark Web Team from the Artificial Intelligence Lab at the University of Arizona. The third part explains the notion of “sisterhoods,” in which women are considered operational facilitators and organizational supporters. In the fourth part, the role of women acting as suicide bombers under the banner of al-Qaeda will be analyzed. So far the involvement of women in direct terrorist activities has been treated as a minor issue within the al-Qaeda movement, but it will be argued that in order to achieve strategic goals in the fight against terrorism, measures and concepts will have to be identified and developed that are specifically tailored to address women.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Combatants, Female Combatants, Gender, Women, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Non-State Armed Groups, Religion, Terrorism

Year: 2008

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