As ISIS continues to gain momentum throughout the Middle East, the radical terrorist group has been using gangs of female combatants to enforce their rule.
The al-Khansa battalion, named for the eponymous poet who dedicated poetry and eulogies to jihad fighters during the time of the Prophet Mohammed, has been enforcing Sharia law in the ISIS stronghold Raqqa in Syria.
There are about 60 women in al-Khansa, most of whom are between the ages of 18 and 24. Their job is to enforce the most conservative tenants of Sharia law, which bans women from showing their wrists and ankles and walking around without a male chaperone. The women of al-Khansa patrol the streets for violations of Sharia law and violently beat those who don’t adhere to it.
Recently, al-Khansa members have been implicated in both perpetuating and falling victim to sex crimes. The International Business Times reported earlier this year that many of the fighters are young, single and attractive - placed in the group in order to manipulate young men into fighting alongside them, though sexual abuse is rife. However, the brigade also oversees brothels where thousands of kidnapped Yazidi women are forced to entertain ISIS fighters, according to Fox News.
The women themselves are recruited with the promise of a monthly salary, shelter, training, food and abundant spiritual rewards. Many of the al-Khansa fighters are of Chechen descent, but women from Yemen and Afghanistan have joined the battalion.
The roll of women in ISIS is still small, Robert Young Pelton, a journalist and filmmaker told Fox News. Al-Khansa is not considered integral to the movement. “Women are more likely to be in refugee camps than at the front lines and are not part of any Islamic insurgency,” Pelton said. “They are mostly the victims of fundamentalists both physically and culturally.”
Kamal Nawash, founder of the Free Muslims Coalition, believes that may change soon.
“There is a history of Muslim women taking up arms, or even leading armies, since the 7th century,” Nawash told Fox News. “In light of the increasing number of women fighting ISIS, such as Kurdish women, ISIS will most likely have their female supporters fight. The use of women will increase as the number of men increases.”
Image via Sunrise (Tunisia)