Initial reports say a police raid in southern France has stopped an imminent terrorist attack by four suspects, including one young woman.
The four suspects were found with the same explosive material used in previous terror attacks tied to ISIS in Paris and Brussels.
A teenager girl, aged 16, had reportedly made jihadist posts on social media, declaring her intention to either travel to Syria or launch a terror attack inside France. If confirmed, the inclusion of an especially young woman in a terror plot fits a continuing trend of including female fighters in combat and jihadist attacks.
This trend was most notable inside the United States with the San Bernardino incident in 2015, when Tashfeen Malik joined her husband Syed Rizwan Farook in a coordinated shooting attack that left 16 people dead. While the investigation is still ongoing, many have suspected Malik as more than simply an accomplice, and possibly played a key role in the planning and execution of the attack.
Malik had already exchanged messages with Farook over the internet indicating radicalized views prior to moving to the U.S. to marry him, and had kept her jihadist statements private until shortly before the attack. She conducted marksmanship training with her husband during the planning stages, and was only killed after a five-minute shootout with police, where she reportedly wounded one officer.
Among the EKIA during the Yemen raid in late January were multiple female combatants. According to Navy Spokesman Captain Jeff Davis: “We saw during this operation, as it was taking place, that female fighters ran to pre-established positions — as though they had trained to be ready, and trained to be combatants — and engaged with us. Some of these enemy killed in action are, in fact, female.”
The demographics of who is being drawn to fight for ISIS is changing from the traditional jihadi fighter description. According to the Washington Post, one in seven new ISIS recruits traveling to fight in Iraq and Syria are women. The average age is 21, and a third of these female recruits are teenagers.
The Al-Khansaa Brigade, an all-female paramilitary police force, was formed in early 2014 by ISIS for a non-combat role in enforcing their system of law.
With an increasing number of women making jihadi declarations, intent to conduct terrorist attacks, and actually following through with them, it should no longer be considered unusual to find women on the battlefield.
Image Courtesy of the BBC