Qaeda‘s Increased Use of F
emale Suicide Attackers in Iraq: Quantitative andQualitative ExplanationsAngela Piñeyro De Hoyos, Special Honors in Middle Eastern Studies,The University of Texas at Austin, 2010Supervisor: Faegheh ShiraziThe modern Salafi ideology used by Al-Qaeda to justify suicide attacks is basedon the reactionary writings of Ibn Taymiyya, a 13
century scholar. The fall of Baghdadin 1250 was echoed in the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20
century, as well asthe Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabiaduring the Gulf Wars. During each of these times, similar political climates led to the
revival of Ibn Taymiyya‘s extremely narrow interpretation of Islam.
I will explain therise in female perpetrated suicide attacks in Iraq examined in the context of the origins of Al-
Qaeda‘s ideology as well as the
ir strategic organizational motivations.The surge of Multi-National Coalition troops made it difficult for men toperpetrate suicide attacks, and this directly caused the strategic shift to relying on womento take their place. By examining suicide attacks in Iraq from 2005-2010, we see thatSalafi-Jihadi organizations responded to immaterial barriers by using female perpetratorsto circumvent these barriers based on social norms exempting them from search bypredominantly male security forces. Captured al-Qaida recruiters support this in theirconfessions.As these groups adapted, they failed to consider the consequences of their actions.Their increased attacks on soft targets, namely Sunni m
embers of the ―Awakening‖
turned their natural constituency against them. Coupled with the contradictory nature of how Salafis value martyrdom and their low view of women, al-Qaida in Mesopotamia
has alienated it‘s supporters; both
the Sunnis who participa
ted to fight Shi‘ia militias and
their true believers. This will have organizational consequences for the group which maycontribute to the eventual end of their operations.