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ORIGINAL ARTICLEBombshells: Women and TerrorMia BloomPublished online: 6 May 2011ÓSpringer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011AbstractTerrorism is considered the ultimate ‘‘weapon of the weak’’. Groups thatcould not possibly succeed using conventional tactics on the battlefield employunconventional means to strike terror behind the battle lines. Increasingly, however,the ‘‘weakest’’ members of society, notably women and children, have been drawninto the fray as operatives. Once an occasional occurrence, the use of women isgrowing at an alarming rate. Using female recruits provides the terrorist organiza-tions with a comparative advantage, particularly the element of surprise. At thesame time, this strategy damages the psychological well being and morale of thesoldiers opposing them. Soldiers have been trained to protect the civilian popula-tion. US Army doctrine specifies that, ‘‘preserving noncombatant lives and dignityis central to mission accomplishment in counterinsurgency’’ (Lt. Col. Perez in Theembedded morality in FM 3-24 Counterinsurgency, Military Review,32) Therequirement to shoot people that soldiers are ordinarily trained to protect can havedeep psychological impact disproportionate to killing adult men. This often resultsin higher levels of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and battle fatigue. Theupsurge in female suicide bombers has occurred across a variety of nationalistic andsecular groups but has also spread to the conservative religious terror networks. Thisarticle assesses the growing phenomenon of female terrorists and looks at the dif-ferent roles that women play in terrorist organizations. It also analyzes the differentPortions of this article are taken from an earlier draft ofBombshell: the Many Faces of WomenTerrorists. Toronto: Penguin (Viking) 2011. I would like to thank John Horgan and Paul Gill for theircomments on earlier drafts and Shireen Judeh and Yael Miller for their research assistance.This paper represents the views of the authors alone and do not represent the Navy or the Department ofDefense. All errors or omissions are the fault of the authors alone.M. Bloom (&)Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA, USAe-mail: [email protected]123Gend. Issues (2011) 28:1–21DOI 10.1007/s12147-011-9098-z
mechanisms for women’s mobilization and briefly discusses whether women arecoerced or are willing participants in terrorist violence.KeywordsWomenÁTerrorismÁTerroristÁMobilizationÁRapeÁOccupationÁSuicide Bombers‘‘The time is now. Arm your women and children against the infidel!’’ OsamaBin Laden 2001 Tora Bora.1IntroductionOn November 9, 2005, Muriel Degauque, a Belgian convert to Islam, blew herselfup in Iraq. Muriel and her husband Issam Goris drove across Turkey and Syria intoIraq, determined to kill themselves and as many American soldiers as possible.

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