Al-Qaeda‘s Increased Use of Female Suicide Attackers in Iraq: Quantitative and Qualitative Explanations Angela Piñeyro De Hoyos MES379HB

Special Honors in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies The University of Texas at Austin

May 2010

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Faegheh Shirazi Department of Middle Eastern Studies Supervising Professor

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sonia Seeman Department of Middle Eastern Studies Second Reader


Abstract Al-Qaeda‘s Increased Use of Female Suicide Attackers in Iraq: Quantitative and Qualitative Explanations

Angela Piñeyro De Hoyos, Special Honors in Middle Eastern Studies, The University of Texas at Austin, 2010

Supervisor: Faegheh Shirazi The modern Salafi ideology used by Al-Qaeda to justify suicide attacks is based on the reactionary writings of Ibn Taymiyya, a 13th century scholar. The fall of Baghdad in 1250 was echoed in the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the early 20th century, as well as the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia during 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 the rise in female perpetrated suicide attacks in Iraq examined in the context of the origins of Al-Qaeda‘s ideology as well as their strategic organizational motivations. The surge of Multi-National Coalition troops made it difficult for men to perpetrate suicide attacks, and this directly caused the strategic shift to relying on women to take their place. By examining suicide attacks in Iraq from 2005-2010, we see that Salafi-Jihadi organizations responded to immaterial barriers by using female perpetrators to circumvent these barriers based on social norms exempting them from search by predominantly male security forces. Captured al-Qaida recruiters support this in their confessions. As these groups adapted, they failed to consider the consequences of their actions. Their increased attacks on soft targets, namely Sunni members 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 participated to fight Shi‘ia militias and their true believers. This will have organizational consequences for the group which may contribute to the eventual end of their operations.


Acknowledgements I would like to thank the army of helpers that has gotten me to where I stand, namely my mom Maria Lourdes De Hoyos Guevara, my sister Venus Piñeyro De Hoyos, and dear friends such as Mustafa Mezaal. They have not only helped me focus and dedicate myself, but have intellectually and personally challenged me into becoming the person I am today. Thank you to all of the participants of Thesis Sweatshop 2010: Jessica Walker, Ethan Walker, Spencer Franklin, Andres Gutierrez, and the three aforementioned, in which you sacrificed your evenings and even Mother‘s Day to finish this thesis. I could not have finished this without you! This thesis itself would not be possible without the dedication and selfless kindness of Dr. Faegheh Shirazi my primary advisor and the continued support of Dr. Sonia Tamar Seeman who has supported my musical endeavors for the past three years. Were it not for their willingness to help me (and in the case of Dr. Shirazi, to help a stranger) in my time of need, I would not have had the support to write this thesis. This experience has truly served to channel my academic achievement thus far into a shining apex, and what I have learned from the process and from the research has already proven invaluable.


Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: A POLITICAL HISTORY OF JIHAD .............................................................. 1

The Role of the Mamluks in the Fall of Baghdad....................................................... 3 Cultural Consequences ................................................................................................. 5 Ibn Taymiyya: The New Jihad’s Spin Doctor ............................................................ 6 Ideologue on the Move ................................................................................................ 11 Reviving Ibn Taymiyya’s Legacy............................................................................... 12 Wahabi Revival ........................................................................................................... 13 Parallel Realities .......................................................................................................... 14 The Wahabi Connection ............................................................................................. 17 The Third Revival ....................................................................................................... 19 The Invasion of Kuwait: Ibn Taymiyya’s Second Revival ...................................... 21 Bite the Hand that Feeds You .................................................................................... 22 Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia ........................................................................................... 26 Petraeus’ Plan .............................................................................................................. 29 Fall of Empire: Redux................................................................................................. 32
METHODOLOGY ....................................................................................................................... 34 CHAPTER TWO: FEMALE PERPETRATED ATTACKS IN IRAQ 2005-2010....................... 35

The Surge ..................................................................................................................... 36
Table 1: Iraqi Civilian Deaths Acessed 04/22//2010 ................................... 37

Digging Deep ................................................................................................................ 37
Figure 1: Number Dead and Injured by Female Suicide Attackers ....................................... 38

Strategic Motivations of Organizations..................................................................... 38
Figure 2: Total and Female Attacks per Year ....................................................................... 41 Figure 3: Breakdown of Female-Perpetrated Suicide Attacks by Target .............................. 42

Female Perpetrator, Female Recruiter ..................................................................... 42


Figure 4: Location of Female Suicide Attacks ...................................................................... 44 Table 2: Location of Female ................................................................................................. 45 Perpetrated Suicide Attacks .................................................................................................. 45

Unwilling Martyrs ....................................................................................................... 45 Strategic, Not Symbolic Actions ................................................................................. 46 Female Multipliers ...................................................................................................... 49
Table 3: Total Suicide and Car Bombs and Female Perpetrated Suicide Attacks ................. 50

God Knows No Wrath like a Woman Scorned ......................................................... 51
CHAPTER THREE: CONCLUSIONS ........................................................................................ 53

Consequences ............................................................................................................... 57
Appendix A: Raw Data ................................................................................................................ 59 Bibliography ................................................................................................................................. 62 VITAE .................................................................................................................................. 66


List of Tables

TABLE 1: IRAQI CIVILIAN DEATHS IRAQBODYCOUNT.ORG .......................................................................... 37

TABLE 2: LOCATION OF FEMALE ................................................................................................................ 45



List of Figures FIGURE 1: NUMBER DEAD AND INJURED BY FEMALE SUICIDE ATTACKERS ....................... 38 FIGURE 2: TOTAL AND FEMALE ATTACKS PER YEAR ......................................................... 41 FIGURE 3: BREAKDOWN OF FEMALE-PERPETRATED SUICIDE ATTACKS BY TARGET.......... 42 FIGURE 4: LOCATION OF FEMALE SUICIDE ATTACKS ......................................................... 44


"Usually, terrible things that are done with the excuse that progress requires them are not really progress at all, but just terrible things." Russell Baker In order to understand al-Qaida‘s increased use of female suicide attackers in Iraq, it is crucial to understand the historical factors that led to the current circumstances. The use of suicide terrorism in the name of Jihad in Islam is a departure from mainstream ideology, which only began in the 13th century. Since the 8th century, the Muslim Empire had relied on Mamluks1 to serve as their military forces. Over time, many capable Mamluk leaders used their political prowess to gain control of outlying kingdoms. This weakened the Arab empire due to the fact that their motivations and background were clearly different from the previous Arab army. They were more interested in preserving their domains and power than in the greater good of the kingdom. This led them to create alliances with invaders, which left areas vulnerable to attack.


‫ ٍَيىك‬or plural ‫( اىََاىيل‬al-mamalik) were the military ‗contractors‘ or converted slave armies of Muslim Empires in use as early as the 9th century.


In the thirteenth century, the Islamic Empire was at its nadir. Converts joined from different ethnic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds, splitting the Muslim umma2 into `Arab `araba3 and `Arab must`araba4. Because of their non-Arab heritage, the newcomers did not care about Arabs as leaders of the Muslim world which led to the fall of Baghdad at the hands of Mongol leader Hulagu Khan 5 in 1250. After the Mongols invaded and overwhelmingly conquered the Muslim Empire, they stayed there and adopted the religion and customs of the land they came to inhabit. Around this time, many European crusaders did the same. This lead to a sudden dilution of the customs and language which had united the Muslim Empire since the time of the first Caliph Abu Bakr who died in 634 CE. The current ideological justifications for Jihad used by groups such as al-Qaida are built on revivals of the scholarly work and revolutionary interpretation of Ibn Taymiyya. He was the first Muslim scholar to expropriate the authority to declare jihad— a power previously reserved for a rightful imam6. Three major attacks on the Muslim Empire during Ibn Taymiyya‘s life radicalized his studies and writings: the Tatar Mongol invasion from the East, the influx of Crusaders from West, and the military betrayal by Mamluk Caucasians from within. Ibn Taymiyya took the right and responsibility of declaring Jihad out of the hands of the Imam and gave it to the masses, changing forever the nature of Islamic warfare.
2 3

The world-wide community of Muslims ‫ عرب عرَبب‬The original and ethnically Arab Muslims 4 ‫ عربٍسخععر‬Literally meaning ―Arabized Arabs‖ including all converts to the religion after the original Muslim expansion 5 Hulagu Khan 6 ‫ اإلٍاًباىعاده‬The Fair Imam is the supreme religious and political empire of the Muslim umma


It was this political climate that spurred Ibn Taymiyya to be the first cleric to redefine Jihad as the religious justification to war that many terrorist organizations use today. Though long dead, his ideas were revived during periods with political parallels to the times in which he first popularized his beliefs. As the Ottoman Empire weakened and fell, Mohammed Ibn `Abd al-Wahab drew on Ibn Taymiyya‘s work to call for a return to Islam as it was originally practiced. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the presence of U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf Wars revived for the second time the polemic writings of Ibn Taymiyya. The Role of the Mamluks in the Fall of Baghdad Around the 8th century it became common practice for Muslim Emperors to rely on Mamluk slaves as their military apparatus. While it was common for the military leaders to fight each other to be near the caliph, they would put their divisions aside in the face of outside threats, resuming their rivalries once eliminated. These were not the Mamluk‘s birthright lands and they resented the system which treated them as second class citizens. Thus, valued their small kingdoms over the larger Arab empire and made deals with threatening conquerors relinquishing the rule of small pieces of land in exchange for the right to stay in power. They preferred to be number one in their smaller kingdoms rather than being part of a greater empire that relegated them to a second class, leaving them few resources to present a united Arab military front (Michot 1995). In comparison to the military of the Mamluks, the patriotic Arabs before them were willing to fight for the survival of the empire, refusing propositions made by


conquering forces. The Mamluks held second-class status in the empire overall, but their successful administration of petty kingdoms gave them local power which they sought to maintain. After the fall of Baghdad Mamluks became kings, and fled Baghdad and stayed in Damascus, starting kingdoms in the Levant and in Egypt. This retreat of the Mamluks from Baghdad meant that the caliph failed to gather the requisite forces to stop Mongolian invasion. The Mongols were brilliant military leaders as shown by their vicious conquest of all lands from Central Asia to the shores of the Mediterranean. However, their slash and burn tactics destroyed civilizations. They moved from land to land because they were incapable politicians who couldn‘t rule and knew only war. When they came to the Middle East it was the first time in history, a conquering force adopted the culture and religion of the land they conquered During the Mongol invasion, the intruders realized the power of the Imam and the importance of destroying him. From their stronghold in Tabriz (present-day Iran), they sent the Caliph a message calling for his surrender which he refused, saying that the Imam of Muslims does not surrender to anyone but God. The Caliph Mu`atasim fatally assumed those three months would be enough to send runners to all Islamic territories and re-form his army but by then the empire was at it‘s weakest point. Al-Mut`asim, the last caliph was a spoiled and foolish young man had not maintain the pivotal runner system which was the nervous system of the empire. Not only did he overestimate his ability to regroup his army, but he also failed to realize that Mongols actually prefer winter for their attacks. As soon as summer and


autumn ended, with the granted time coming to an end, the Caliph began to form an army. This was too little too late and by this time, Mongol forces pressed at the gates of Baghdad. When they invaded, one castle stood alone, defenseless and unprepared for the Mongol siege. They ruthlessly destroyed everything. Hulago‘s 7 first order of invasion was to kill every male above the age of 13, a massacre which lasted for two weeks. They killed the caliph and his 13 sons and his daughters and his wives, destroying every single living symbol of Arabic Muslim Empire. They showed no mercy or respect to anybody with ruthlessness unmatched in any war between two empires before (Klein-Franke 2007). The Mongols had destroyed the core and source of Arab Muslim strength and the ultimate symbol of its power, forever eliminating the caliphate by killing al-Mua`tasim and all of his family and heirs. Chapter 1 part two Cultural Consequences The Arab Muslims who lived during the time of the fall of the empire saw a dramatic change in their culture, their religion, and most importantly their mother tongue. Historically, their language was their biggest source of pride and unity. Arabic as a language was extremely important to them as shown by the fact that their prophet‘s only miracle was the unmatched verse of the Qur‘an which he recited. The reason for this rapid change was that newcomers to Islam brought with them their languages, traditions and beliefs, mixing these with the existing culture. New faith

Hulagu Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan was the Mongol conqueror who led the sack of Baghdad (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia 2009) Accessed 4/29/2010 39012518&site=ehost-live


groups in Islam such as the Sufis8 created during this time exemplify how the new mix of society and culture departed from traditional Islam. Patriotic Arab clerics such as Ibn Taymiyya believed that the purity of Islam was the source of its strength and the force behind all of the past success and the victories of the Islamic empire. According to these Arab patriots, the only pure Islam was that which was carried by the original Arab Muslims and their descendents thereafter. They kept themselves away from the Sufis, whose beliefs were adopted by the Mamluk sultanates. Scholars like Ibn Taymiyya thought that the new orders had nothing to do with the original religion which organized every single detail of the political, social, and economic life of believers, even discussing beliefs surrounding military and war tactics—something that had never been found in any religion before Ibn Taymiyya: The New Jihad’s Spin Doctor Ibn Taymiyya was born in what is now Saudi Arabia during the Tatar invasions of the Muslim empires. He fled with his family and moved to Damascus where he published his first religious interpretations by the age of 20. His area of study focused particularly on Jihad and hurub ar-rasool9, the wars of the prophet. His formative years were thus spent in a political climate of great upheaval and change, reacting to the diversification of Islam that would bring about the subsequent collapse of the Muslim Empire. The fall of Baghdad affected Taymiyya deeply. He personally bore witness to the end of Islam‘s golden age and the empire‘s transition from a super power to small and
8 9

‫ صىفي‬an adjective describing the practitioners of the mystical sunni sects of Islam ‫ دعورباىعّ سىه‬The wars fought by the Prophet Mohammed against infidels in his lifetime (Imam Shirazi World Foundation 2006) accessed 5/1/2010


scattered kingdoms ruled by non Arab rulers, who, as recent converts to the religion, did not prize Islamic heritage as deeply as Arab Muslims. This fall from power inspired his interest and subsequent research and writings concerning Jihad. When the Mongolian Tatars killed the Caliph10, there remained no murja`ia 11. The Mongolians had effectively ended righteous Jihad for good, having killed the caliph and all of his sons, wives, and blood relatives, making it so no one remained with the religious authority to declare Jihad as prescribed by Muslim belief. Ibn Taymiyya was the leading Sunni cleric of the time. His entire philosophy was based on this idea of pure Islam and its perpetuity through the original believers and their descendents (as-salaf as-salih12). One may easily see his radical reaction toward any new or modern thought in the religion as reactionary to this influx of new practices in Islam, and this became his weak point. He decided that it was up to him not only to fight new things being added to Islam during that period, but he also started to fight things which were established before his time under a ‗fair imam‘ which he had no authority to doubt. However, the center of his philosophy was that the weakening and collapse of the Islamic Empire was a result of the influx of other beliefs and practices on Islam which— according to him—started long before the fall of Baghdad. He believed it was his duty as a Muslim to fight current events, as well as to fight the weight of history. Having witnessed the fall of the empire, he saw what the Imam
10 11

Another word for the Imam ‫ ٍعجع‬literally meaning reference, here a person holding religious authority to declare jihad as prescribed by Muslim belief 12 ‫ اىسيفباىصاىخ‬The Righteous Descendents, those alive during the time of the life of the Prophet Mohammed and of the four Rashidun Caliphs


could not have seen, and was thus felt endowed with the right to revise the word of the fair imam. With this philosophy as his starting point, he began to write his books about how everything in Islam as a practice (mu`amilat13 and `ibadat14): (Arabi and Ibn Taymiyya 1998) has to be exactly the same as what the good descendents in the first generation of Muslims who actually lived during Mohammad‘s life and during the time of the Rashidun caliphs did. The Qur‘an says about them ―No falsehood comes from their hands and no falsehood can approach them from before or from behind.‖15 Basing his ideology on this term is what made him the first Salafi cleric. Most of the Salafi practices and beliefs and fatwas go back to his books. There are several schools of thought: hanbali, shaf`ai, maliki, and hanafi plus the ideology of Shi‘is, ja`fari. The Ja`fari school of thought followed by Shi‘is is greatly disliked by Ibn Taymiyya and Salafis today who consider them infidels for their reverence of the family of the prophet. According to Shi‘is the twelfth imam will come back with Christ at the end of the time to fill the earth with justice and fairness after the period of evil and injustice. This effectively closed the door in the face of any cleric at any time wishing to use this dangerous weapon. The other four divisions closed the door

‫ ٍعاٍالث‬The practical components of Islam which dictate human affairs not intended to bring one closer to god.

‫ ببإ باداث‬The spiritual components of Islam including but not limited to: belief in the one god, praying, fasting, alms giving, and pilgrimage Sura al-Fussilat verse 42 as per my own ]42 ‫51 ― البيأحيهباىباطوبٍِببيِبيديهبوالبٍِبخيفه ‖[سىرةبفصيج:باآليت‬ translation


of fatwa16. Though this was less definitive of an obstacle to jihad, no cleric can make fatwas without having strong evidence from their book as a reference for his fatwa. Ibn Taymiyya opposed the centralization of the fatwa process and attributed to it the weakening of Islam, as well as the outright denial of jihad in Ja‘fari thought. To circumvent this, he started looking before the time of the division between the five schools of Islamic ideology. Thus, the perfect time for him was that of the good descendents. As they are even mentioned in the Qur‘an so no Muslim can argue with whatever evidence he finds during their time to back up his new school of thought There are four circumstances in which Muslims are allowed to kill anyone without direct and explicit permission from a fair imam. These four just reasons for murder are: in defense of one‘s money, in defense of honor, or `ard17 and their female relatives, in defense of blood spilled, and in defense of religion (Swazo 2008). There is only to be one fair imam in the world and this position was permanently eliminated by the Mongol slaughter of the Caliph and his family. In consequence, any halal18 taking of a life by a Muslim must be for one of these four reasons. Ibn Taymiyya had observed this destruction of the Muslim Empire by the Mongols and watched as Arabs under the command of Salah ad-Din19 began to stop the crusaders.. Salah ad-Din, in his defense of Muslim territory against the Crusades, abstained from declaring Jihad even though there was a fair Imam to validate it, unlike

16 17

‫ فخىة‬A religious decree ‫ عض‬Arabic word meaning honor 18 ‫ داله‬Something which is permissible, also the opposite of sin, or haram ً‫دعا‬ 19 ِ‫ صالحباىدي‬The leader of Muslim forces in defense against the Third Crusade, known as Saladin in Europe


the Salafi organizations of today. While modern groups say they are fighting crusaders and, therefore, have the right to declare Jihad, Salah ad-Din instead fought a permissible war which was never declared as a jihad, even in the presence of a fair imam. It was around this time as well that the Tatars and Mongolians became Muslim and, after the peace treaty, some crusaders likewise converted and stayed in the territory, resulting in an interesting cultural mix of Tatar, Mongolians, and European crusaders. Many of these new converts lived in Arab lands without speaking proper Arabic, a fact that grated with conservative elements of Muslim society. These conservatives believed corruption had infiltrated so deep in their society as to have infiltrated even the Arabic language, the pride of the Arabs for centuries. Encouraged by the success of the Arab campaigns against crusaders, they felt well positioned to form a new Arab patriotic military campaign against all non-Muslims Their aim was to re-form a pure society out of the corrupt in which they lived. These factors—the numerous violent conquests on the Muslim Empire, the killing of the Caliph, and the perceived corruption of Arab society—together drove Ibn Taymiyya to write what were essentially the new rules for Jihad drawing from Kitab20, Qur‘an and Sunnah21. After centuries of the rule of the Arab iron fist around the world, their enemies had come to realize that the source of their strength was the fair imam. The holy man who served as the spiritual leader and political of the empire, and supreme


‫ مخار‬Literally meaning book, here referring to the holy books revered in Islam including the Torah and the Bible 21 ‫ سّْتباىعّ سىه‬The traditions, sayings, and habits of the Prophet Mohammed as reported by various sources


military leader—the only person who could declare jihad and inspire their countless armies that spanned from east of China to Spain. Ideologue on the Move He peddled his ideas to his followers and students by saying that they needed to purify Islam by removing the impurities and live just like the old descendents and do exactly what they did and follow their beliefs and practices and commands blindly. What ever happened after their time became matters of arguing between the five schools. He successfully preached in Damascus and Jerusalem but he failed in Alexandria because they sultanate there was Sufi, and thus not receptive to being declared infidels. In Egypt, the Sufi sultan of Alexandria imprisoned him, incidentally making him famous. Under public pressure, Ibn Taymiyya was released and moved to Cairo where he was to say under house arrest But Ibn Taymiyya didn‘t stop there. He gathered followers around him again so the authorities imprisoned him again, and he leveraged the authorities‘ unfairness to tell the people how zaahid22 or ascetic he was. After that the authorities decided to banish him from Egypt and send him back to Damascus where he started his journey. During that time, he was afforded much time to write and produced more than 24 books about the good descendents. The most important of them all was ‖Minhaj as-Sunnah”23 in which he destroyed all of the fundamentals of the other schools of thought based their preaching upon, going so far as to call most of them infidels. He wrote a book about ―the

22 23

‫ زاهد‬Ascetic, devoted to spiritual pursuits above all earthly ones ‫ ٍْهجباىسّْت‬Book by Ibn Taymiyya (Ibn Taymiyya 1322)


Misguided Ones‖ al-thaleen24. Using Christians as an example, he said they should be eliminated because they will never make real peace with Muslims. He said the same thing about the Shi‘i and the Nussariyah25—the other 80% of schools of thought in Islam. Ibn Taymiyya‘s fatwas were in thirty seven books by the time he died at the age of 67 in the prison the Damascus castle (qala’t salah ad-din). His death in the prison drew much attention. Public opinion was against the authorities back then for being soft and making treaties with the crusaders. Shortly after his death, his books and his school of thought had been almost forgotten, partly due to his belief in violent elimination of groups in Islam, definitely extending to non-Muslims as well. Reviving Ibn Taymiyya’s Legacy Ibn Taymiyya‘s most important fatwa was the jihad fatwa entitled ―Jihad fi Sabil Allah‖26 in which he declared that groups don‘t need a fatwa from a fair imam to fight an enemy in your land, or anywhere else you can harm him. Changing this ideological convention was a critical turning point. As part of traditional Islamic belief, declaring a jihad fatwa to fight the enemies of Islam still requires a fair imam. Here, Ibn Taymiyya dismissed this obligation—in effect handing out the rights for DIY fatwas. He went so far as to disregard the fatwa which all the Muslims agreed upon which classified the states between dar al-harb27 and dar al-salm28: house of war, house of peace, or less literally, state of war and state of peace. Even if a fair Imam has declared jihad has you cannot
24 25

ِ‫ اىظاىي‬The misguided ones as referred to in the Qur‘an ‫ ّسعيت‬A group believing that the caliphate should remain in the family of the Prophet and that this cannot wait until judgment day, but that they must participate in revolution now to make this a reality 26 ‫ جيهادبفيبسبيوبهللا‬Jihad in the name of/for the sake of God 27 ‫ دارباىذعر‬The permissible state of war 28 ٌ‫ دارباىسّي‬The permissible state of peace, during which no war can be fought


fight your enemy during dar as-silm but according to Ibn Taymiyya the whole world is dar al-harb until the entire world believes in what he believes: the practice of and rule by a Salafi Islam Wahabi Revival Viewing the world as in a perpetual state of dar al-harb was adopted by Wahabis in the 19th century when they established the first Saudi-Wahabi state in Saudi Arabia. Ibn Taymiyya‘s long dormant ideas were revived by the Egyptian Sayyid Qutub 29‘s books in the early 20th century. Wahabis at the time were fighting the hanafi30 Ottoman Empire. Weakening the Ottoman Empire was a shared interest of the British and the Wahabis, and with British help they conquered most of the land between Najd and Hijaz31, what we know today as Saudi Arabia. The British also supported the Wahabi movement with weapons and military advisors and maps, sometimes offering air support as they did in the battle of ad-Diraiyah in the eastern province of Saudi Arabia where all the oil wealth is now found. Sayyid Qutub was not viewed favorably by the Wahabis because his intention was to use the ideology of Ibn Taymiyya to declare jihad against the British occupation of Egypt, despite their help.


‫ سيدبقطب‬The intellectual force behind the Muslim Brotherhood who wrote many famous books advocating a return to pure Islam, the most famous of which is called ―Signposts on the Path‖ or ‫‖ بٍعيٌبفيباىطعيق‖ب‬ 30 ‫ بدْفيب‬Old school of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence 31 ‫ اىْجدبواىذجازب‬Large territory in what is now Saudi Arabia from the coastal strip along the Red Sea to the central flats of Saudi Arabia


He failed and died, but one of his students, Hassan al-Banna32, who established the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt adopted the same thoughts and beliefs, adding from Ibn Taymiyya‘s books to his own ideology—using the same reasons to declare jihad against the kings of Egypt and Sudan because they were backed by the west because they were not Arabs and following the good descendants‘ established path. Parallel Realities By comparing the times and political situation that Ibn Taymiyya experienced after the fall of the Islamic empire and its‘ subsequent occupation, with the time and political circumstances of the formation of the Wahabi movement and the writing of Sayyid Qutub, we find striking similarity in the socio- and geo-political conditions of the fall of the Muslim Caliphate, and the fall of the Ottoman Empire (Nafi 2009). As Hassan al-Banna‘s Muslim Brotherhood gained popular support, King Fuad33 of Egypt sensed the potential danger of the movement and decided to stop it by imprisoning some of the followers. This was the height of tension between the movement and the authorities in Egypt, and after the assassination of the prime minister who had just disbanded the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna was assassinated in retaliation. Everybody thought that was the end of al-Banna‘s movement in Egypt, but two years later the military revolution occurred in Egypt. The inexperienced government tried to wear the Islamic robe to lead the Egyptians and to control the southern territory of Sudan. Public opinion favored the Islamic regime, and the Muslim Brotherhood established a strong presence early on.
32 33

‫ دسِباىبْاب‬Political leader and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood ‫باىَاىلبفؤادب‬The last king of Egypt to wield any power


Abdel Nasser34 decided to free the Muslim brothers from prison and to investigate Hassan al-Banna‘s assassination. He ordered the capture of two of the top officials of the royal palace and imprisoned them, accusing them of his assassination. Abdel Nasser gave the brothers maneuvering space and time to reform their line and re-elect leadership. Learning from history‘s mistakes at this time, it became an organization with multiheaded leadership. This gave the Muslim Brotherhood a sort of hydra effect; so, it became impossible for anyone to take the whole organization by taking the head off. This spirit of Ibn Taymiyya‘s decentralized the religion and allowed anybody to be the leader and the soldier and the cleric at the same time. However, the honeymoon between Abdel Nasser and his revolutionary supreme council and the Muslim Brotherhood did not survive an attempt to assassinate Abdel Nasser when he was giving a public speech from a balcony in Alexandria on the 26 th of October in 1954. The authorities blamed the Muslim Brotherhood for this attempt even though many believe that Abdel Nasser himself faked the attempt in order to re-imprison the Muslim Brotherhood members who, at the time were the fastest growing threat to Nasser‘s revolution. Nasser saw the Muslim Brotherhood as a threat to the Arab nationalist movement of which he wanted to be the supreme leader in order to become the leader of a united Arab nation. The Muslim Brotherhood suffered many losses, especially a decline in followers and supporting clerics after he executed various leaders and launched a campaign to clear


‫جمال عبد الناصر‬


al-Azhar35 from all the clerics who supported the Muslim Brotherhood or believed in Ibn Taymiyya‘s fatwas. During the 1960‘s Abdel Nasser almost succeeded in eliminating the movement, but the 1967 war came and destroyed Abdel Nasser‘s biggest source of power—the Egyptian armed forces. Egypt suffered crippling damages during that war almost left the military government crippled and gathered all of its forces east of the Suez canal to defend Cairo from the Israeli army. During the six-day war in 1960, the Arab nationalist movement‘s pride suffered irreparable injuries which led Abdel Nasser to go alone to alAzhar to pray and ask for the people‘s support to free the lost territories. This gesture came from a leader who fought al-Azhar a few years ago. Between 1967 and 1970, Abdel Nasser‘s regime stopped harassing the Muslim Brotherhood acknowledging he needed the mosque‘s authority and influence over the people. Religious authority will go beyond any government authority in Egypt as there is a mosque in every village and neighborhood in Egypt. It is clearly far beyond the government‘s capabilities to match that influence to recruit people to rebuild the country and rebuild the armed forces to re-take the Sinai and heal the fatal blows suffered byArab pride. However, in most of the nations who lost the war, the public opinion shifted toward god and religion to protect them and help them win the next war. Abdel Nasser died suddenly in 1970, and General Anwar Sadat, the most pragmatic Arab leader, succeeded him in office. He shut down all the secret prisons and

‫ جاٍعتباالزهارباىشعيف‬The Noble Azhar University which has been the leading Sunni institution of literature and Islamic Jurisprudence since the late 10th century.


the internment work camps for political prisoners in which were the majority of the prisoners were Muslim Brotherhood members and communists. He even revealed the secret phone-tapping documents of the political leaders of the country and held a meeting with Muslim Brotherhood‘s leaders, promising freedom to organize and to do them no harm in Egypt from now one. This spiked his approval ratings, allowing him to control the government and the country with more ease. The boost was desperately needed, for in the beginning the supreme revolutionary council voted for him to be the president perceiving him as the weakest and least well known of all of them. Without public support, he would have been the council‘s puppet. As-Sadat now had the street power behind him to eliminate the power centers and lobbyists in the regime loyal to Abdul Nasser above their loyalty to Egypt. The Wahabi Connection The Muslim Brotherhood received considerable funding and support from the oil revenue of the Wahabis in Saudi Arabia; and this oil revenue was beyond any previous charitable contribution. Saudi Arabia lacked the internal infrastructure on which to spend their revenue and needed an outside market for their new capital. This brought millions of dollars to Egypt, to the Brotherhood, and to the government. This is a stark contrast to Abdel Nasser‘s time when he fought against the Wahabis in Yemen and the Muslim Brothers in Egypt. After the 1973 war, Sadat and the Egyptian Army won the war against Israel and crossed the Suez Canal. This created a new situation in the Middle East that dragged the superpowers and the international community in to solve the crisis between Israel and


Egypt before it would become an international crisis, which led to the Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel. That was a turning point in public opinion and was a huge disappointment for the Muslim Brotherhood who thought that even Abdel Nasser, their number one enemy who had imprisoned them and executed their leaders was better than Anwar Sadat because he didn‘t shake hands with the Zionists. Organized protests filled the streets in most of the areas that the Muslim Brotherhood controlled. They took to the streets of Cairo, protesting against the treaty and calling Anwar Sadat a traitor while calling for his resignation. Anwar Sadat decided to strike back, this time in a different way than what the Muslim Brotherhood was used to. He struck them through the National Assembly by calling for an emergency meeting to discuss an event that happened in Alexandria between the Muslim Brotherhood and the Coptic Church in Alexandria. The Muslim Brotherhood claimed that the Coptic Church hosted a play that offended the Prophet Mohammed and threatened to burn down all of the Coptic churches in Egypt down unless the Coptic Church apologized. As-Sadat used this incident as an excuse to re-imprison most of their leaders and attack them publicly on national TV where he used strong words against their leaders calling them names like ―filthy dogs‖ ―primitive‖ ―uneducated‖ ―clerics‖ ―from the 13th century‖. These words were an internal message for all of the followers of Ibn Taymiyya.


This incident directly lead to his assassination by Khalid al-Islambooli36, during a military parade on the revolution day. Al-Islambooli was part of a secret armed cell which followed the command of the Muslim Brotherhood. He was executed and general Husni Mubarak37 became president and declared a state of emergency and banned the brotherhood from any political or social activity, re-imprisoning many of their followers and leaders. The Third Revival The soviet invasion of Afghanistan was starting to face a small resistance in the mountains of the southeast border area. During that time, the Wahabi clerics in Saudi Arabia declared Jihad on the Soviet troops in Afghanistan based to Ibn Taymiyya‘s fatwas which gave them the authority to do so, even in the absence of a fair imam. They started sending money and recruits to Afghanistan through Islamic charities and organizations in Pakistan run and funded by Saudi Arabia. The United States backed this movement and sent military equipment and advisors to train the fighters in camps between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The regime in Egypt found this a golden opportunity to get rid of the members of the Muslim Brotherhood who were thorns in their side, specifically the most violent cells, by making a deal with them to send them to the greater Jihad against the Soviet invaders of Islamic Afghanistan. Of course, the Muslim Brotherhood swallowed the bait and started sending a flow of people to Afghanistan. Most of the governments in the Middle East started making it easy for unwanted jihadists to go to Pakistan where their final destination would be the border American training
36 37

‫ خاىدباإلسالٍبىىيب‬Egyptian officer largely responsible for assassination of Anwar Sadat ‫ ٍذَدبدسْيبٍباركب‬Anwar Sadat‘s vice president who assumed the presidency upon death of Sadat and has been there ever since.


camps to fight the Soviet enemy. Organizing these camps was done with the blessing of the CIA (the Central Intelligence Organization) and the greater U.S. Government. The Arab fighters in Afghanistan grew in numbers and became what they call the ―Arab Afghans38‖. They were hard-core fighters who had nothing to lose but their lives, which they believed is the ultimate sacrifice and would redeem them from whatever sins they‘ve committed on Earth, making a clear, wide open path to paradise. Those Arab Afghan fighters were different than the true Afghan fighters, because they were pure fighters with no political agendas or local affiliations like Afghan groups fighting the Soviets. Their attitude gave them the upper hand in battles with the Soviets and in the entire war over all; not to mention the help of millions of Saudi dollars and the training by the most lethal trainers in the world, the CIA and the green berets. The Arab Afghans are the first manifestation of what we know today as al-Qaida. After the complete Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the Arab Afghans appeared on the surface and to the public as holy heroes who brought the lost pride of the Muslims after centuries of degradation. However, the collapse of the Soviet Union later on as well as the fall of Warsaw and the Iron Curtain, busied the west with re-organizing Eastern Europe and preserving the Soviet heritage during the 1990‘s. This gave time to the Arab Afghans and their new leader Osama Bin Laden—a prince from the royal family of Saudi Arabia and a member of one of the wealthiest families in the world—the time to declare al-Qaida an

Arab Afghans were the ethnically non-Afghan men organized around Islam to expel the Soviets from Afghanistan


international organization, which is what they call ―qa`dat al-islam39‖ meaning the base of Islam. The Invasion of Kuwait: Ibn Taymiyya’s Second Revival On the morning of August 2nd, 1990 the world woke up to the news of Saddam‘s invasion of Kuwait. By night time, Saddam controlled 20% of the world‘s oil production. Fearing that the Republican Guard would march forward to Saudi Arabia‘s eastern oilrich fields and gain control of 50% of the world‘s oil, the Kingdom‘s government invited the western coalition to intervene. The United States of America launched Operation Desert Shield which flooded the holy lands of Saudi Arabia with western forces for the first time in Islamic history. The Saudi government knew that they were playing with fire, but they had no other choice. Saddam controlling the eastern oil fields jeopardized the entire region and the world. Nascent Al-Qaida vehemently opposed this and called for the formation of an Islamic army from Muslim countries to protect the holy land and liberate Kuwait, and asked the Saudi government to retract their invitation to the foreign forces. Al-Qaida‘s demand was not realistic because the oil fields were only a few hundred miles south of the border with Kuwait, lightly defended by the comparatively inadequate Saudi army. In the face of the world‘s fifth largest army at the time, the Iraqi army, the Saudis had no choice but to call upon the West and specifically the United States to protect them.


‫ اىقا دة‬Name of premier world-wide terrorist organization, literally meaning in Arabic ―The Base‖


The Saudi government disregarded Bin Laden‘s demands and the campaign escalated until the allied forces launched Operation Desert Storm, using Islam‘s holiest lands to launch their attack and repel Saddam‘s forces. The operation was a huge success for the allied forces, who liberated Kuwait within two months. The Iraqi forces suffered catastrophic damages but Saddam managed to maintain enough military power to control the country again after the Kurdish and Shi‘i uprisings. Even though the military campaign destroyed most of the offensive capabilities of the Iraqi army, Saddam managed to hide a few hundred long-range ballistic missiles and four thousand tanks and two thousand pieces of artillery with an immense stock-pile of chemical warheads. Thus he remained a threat if he were to decide to launch any suicide operations. This is why Kuwait and Saudi Arabia wanted a permanent US presence on their soil to deter any future incursions. That decision continues to affect the region and the entire world; this foreign presence is what al-Qaida used as an excuse to declare jihad against the Saudi government and the royal family for the first time. The Saudi government found itself between two difficult choices: fighting yesterday‘s ally, al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden— whose beliefs enjoy deep popular support; and living at mercy of Saddam‘s whim and arsenal. Bite the Hand that Feeds You Al-Qaida‘s first attack against Western interests in Saudi Arabia came hard and fast. In 1992, al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the first terrorist attack against two hotels hosting westerners, mostly Americans in Yemen. The attack was intended to


eliminate American soldiers on their way to Somalia in support of operation Restore Hope. The Saudi government banished bin Laden and he moved to Sudan where he stayed with Hassan at-Turabi, an Islamist theoretician. From Sudan he started regrouping the Arab Afghan fighters. In 1993 when Saudi Arabia gave support for the Oslo Accords which set the path for peace between Israel and Palestine, bin Laden and Zawahiri opposed this decision as al-Qaida‘s supreme leaders. Zawahiri was already wanted by the Egyptian authorities for his affiliation with the assassination attempt on the life of Egyptian Prime Minister Atef Sudqi. The police arrested 280 of al-Jihad‘40s members but he managed to escape and join bin Laden in Sudan. In 1994, King Fahad41 sent a delegate to Sudan to bring bin Laden back but Sudan refused because of bin Laden‘s support of the Islamic groups in the south who were fighting the Christian separatists and paying millions of dollars to support them. After

the American withdrawal from Somalia, it was declared as a failed state, meaning that there was no form of government controlling the territory. Al-Qaida found this to be a golden opportunity to plant its roots in the African horn42, spreading its cells through the region in the name of fighting the increased Israeli influence in the region. However, this led to the bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar as-Salam. Here, al-Qaida came face-to-face with the United States.


‫ اىجهادباإلسالٍيباىَصعيب‬The Egyptian Islamic Jihad, referred to as “al-Jihad” seeking to institute Islamic law in Egypt 41 ‫ اىَيلبفهدببِب بدباىسعىد‬King of Saudi Arabia until 2005 42 The Horn of Africa: The part of Eastern Africa literally shaped like a horn


Sudan found itself surrounded by the international community and facing the threat of a U.S. military operation on its soil against al-Qaida, like that which happened in 1969 against what the U.S. thought to be al-Qaida training camps and chemical weapons factories, despite the Sudanese government‘s insistence that they were just manufacturing drugs. Seeking to avoid a repeat of this episode, the Sudanese government told al-Qaida that they had over-stayed their welcome. Back in Afghanistan, the Taliban who were gaining power and territory welcomed their old allies back. Al-Qaida returned back to where it had begun—Afghanistan, and started operating from there once again. In 1998, bin Laden and Zawahiri signed and issued a declaration under the name of the Organization ―World Islamic Front‖ called‖ Combat Against the Jews and Crusaders43‖. From that date until September 11th, 2001, al-Qaida was a big part of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and played a key role in Taliban military success in the Afghan civil war. In 2001, al-Qaida hit the heart of the American empire and the world‘s financial capital fast and hard to send a clear message that they did not fear anyone or any power ruling the world now. However, the attack brought al-Qaida back to the surface from Kandahar‘s caves and it became the world‘s most dangerous and powerful terrorist organization. Even the United States—the biggest military power in the world—needed the support of other countries to fight it. Al-Qaida‘s strategy behind the attack was to drag the U.S. into a long conflict on a battlefield they knew well and had already fought the only military power comparable to the U.S. on it for ten years and won. Al-Qaida

"ِ‫( "بّصببياُباىجبهتباإلسالٍيتباىعاىَيتبىجهدباىيهىدبواىصييبيي‬World Islamic Front 1998)


knew that after the attack the Americans would strike back, and hard, but from a military perspective that‘s what they wanted: to choose the battlefield where theywould have the upper hand. In the mountains of Afghanistan, the technological disparity between their fighters and the U.S. military became less important a tactic they continue to use successfully today. The Taliban‘s regime collapsed after the allied invasion of Kabul and al-Qaida fled the country, with most of al-Qaida‘s leaders moving to the tribal area of Waziristan. Here, they reorganized their lines to start a long guerilla war against the U.S. and their allies in Afghanistan. After the 2001 war in Afghanistan, al-Qaida changed their tactics. Instead of the traditional, pyramid organization it was, it shifted shape into a line organization. The line had already been told by Ibn Taymiyya that the whole world was dar al-harb, giving the impetus to hit the enemy where ever they can, whenever they can, and as hard as they can. Technically, they no longer needed regular operational instructions, but rather received instructions through hidden messages in al-Qaida statements to the media, especially on the al-Jazeera network, and over the Internet to connect with the groups world-wide. Al-Qaida didn‘t gain much fame from this phase of the war against the U.S. in Afghanistan because unlike when they were fighting the Soviets, they didn‘t receive any support from any other country, not financial or military support. Support came from some radical Wahabi charity organizations in Saudi Arabia through Afghanistan, and it is suspected that they have some connections in the Pakistani government that allow them to have access to some sensitive information, useful for their


attacks. The war in Afghanistan was not very popular in the Islamic world because it happened a thousand miles away from their immediate interests. But, after the U.S.‘s invasion of Iraq, al-Qaida had the golden opportunity to fight its nemesis: the United States of America, in the Arabian Peninsula—the center and the heart of the Islamic world where American defeat would be for them the sweetest. Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia Al-Qaida started its operations in Iraq a few months after the fall of Saddam‘s regime. The first attack that al-Qaida claimed was the bombing of the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad in 2003. However, al-Qaida‘s presence in Iraq began long before that, starting in the Kurdish region in the north which was under the UN protection after desert storm to protect the Kurds from revenge from Saddam. The new form of regional government in the Kurdish region wasn‘t powerful enough to control its own territory, especially with the hard mountainous terrain of the area. In 1993 the first Islamic group linked directly to al-Qaida called Ansar al-Islam44 started operating in the mountainous area between Iraq and Iran. This area was among the first targets during Operation Iraqi Freedom to be hit by cruise missiles, remaining a target of air strikes until the end of the war. Most al-Qaida experts in Iraq think that the leaders and most of the followers of Ansar al-Islam fled the area and went to Baghdad to meld in with the chaos the fall of Saddam‘s regime brought with it. They started contacting other regional extremists like Zarqawi. A Jordanian national who fought in Afghanistan, and he worked as an advisor for the group during the1990‘s in the north. He

‫ اّصارباإلسالًب‬A Kurdish Salafi group


came to Iraq to lead al-Qaida in Iraq and to establish what they call ―al-Qaida in Mesopotamia.‖ Soon after their attack on the Jordanian embassy, they claimed responsibility for the devastating suicide attack against the UN headquarters in Baghdad, which killed over 400 Iraqi civilians and UN employees including the chief of the mission, Sergio De Milo leading the UN to withdraw all of its employees from Iraq and close their offices there, running their operations from their regional office in Amman. Al-Qaida became an embarrassment to the coalition forces and the newly formed Iraqi transitional government under the supervision of the coalition provisional authority. It became one of the most difficult challenges that both of the US government and the Iraqi government would deal with for years to come. After several big attacks, al-Qaida made an alliance with the remaining members of Saddam‘s regime and the B`athists who fled to Syria, fearing the revenge of the Iraqi people after the collapse of the regime. The B`ath party45 thought they would use alQaida as their armed wing to achieve political success by embarrassing the US in Iraq and make the current government weak and non-functional. Al-Qaida realized early that the B`athists just wanted to use them to reach a deal with the Americans to have the chance to rejoin political life in Iraq. Al-Qaida distanced itself from the B`ath party, calling them ‗slaves of their nationality‘ (al-Jaza'iri 2007).


‫ دزرباىبعثباىععبيباالشخعامي‬Known as the Arab Socialist Ba`th Party is a secular pan-Arab socialist party which has ruled both Syria and Iraq at different times


However, from 2003 to 2007, al-Qaida succeeded in launching catastrophic attacks all over Iraq against the coalition forces and the Iraqi government and the Iraqi civilians who were affiliated with the new government and the coalition forces, especially the Shi‘ia who supported and participated in the new government and the liberation of Iraq. The most complicated and dangerous attack took place in Samarra, 170 miles north of Baghdad when al-Qaida managed to bomb and destroy one of the most sacred Shi‘ia shrines in the world—The Golden Dome Mosque (al-askari`ayn shrine)46. This single attack put Iraq on the edge of a civil war. In the hours that proceeded the attack, over 170 attacks were recorded against Sunni mosques in the capital alone. The day after protesters walked the streets in most of the Shi‘i neighborhoods and cities asking for revenge; threatening that if the government couldn‘t or wouldn‘t do that give them revenge, and if the Americans couldn‘t protect them, they would wipe out the entire Sunni population of Iraq—around 25% of the Iraqi population. Sectarian violence led to the area where al-Qaida mostly operated from around Baghdad, known as the Sunni triangle, to be called by the Iraqis the death triangle. The new government of Iraq found itself in a difficult position of being incapable of placating angry masses and of taking the revenge that the angry crowds in the streets demanded because of their limited military resources. Thus, they needed American support. Somehow, the Iraqi government, with the help of the Shi‘ia cleric in Iraq (Ali as46

‫ ٍعقدباىعسنعي‬is a twelve Shi‘i shrine in Samarra, Iraq that because of its great cultural importance, has often been targeted by sunny extremists


Sistani47) managed to calm the angry streets. The top US commander, General David Petraeus, flew to Washington to ask the administration for 30,000 more troops in Iraq in order to impose order in the streets of Iraq. The administration greed and congress gave the green light for the increased troop levels and increased war funds. Petraeus‘ Plan General Petraeus started the surge in Baghdad and the Sunni triangle to crack down on al-Qaida‘s strongholds. General Petraeus truly did something extraordinary. He bought the loyalty of the Sunni tribal leaders in the Sunni areas and supported them against al-Qaida attacks directed at the tribe leaders for not paying a protection tax. This became one of the American top strategies to fight al-Qaida in Iraq and this Sons of Iraq initiative spread through the Sunni areas forming what was called the ―Awakening‖ movement against al-Qaida. The Sunni Awakening turned the war against al-Qaida in Iraq and was a huge turn in the overall war where al-Qaida lost their operative areas, recruits, supply routes, and its social support among the local Sunni populations—the only area in Iraq where they had support to begin with. Al-Qaida suffered catastrophic damages to its structure by losing almost 90% of their leaders by aerial attacks launched by the US, and the rest was lost as the local fighters who used to work for al-Qaida switched sides to the Awakening after they saw that al-Qaida was getting them nowhere.


‫ اىسيدب ييباىذسيْيباىسيسخاّي‬Is the highest Shi‘a authority in the world right now


By the end of 2007, the roads to Baghdad were opened and the death triangle, became a relatively safe place again, colloquially returning to the Sunni triangle. Iraq held another election and a national constitutional government was put in place for the first time in the country‘s history, and its armed forces started increasing in numbers and equipment. A huge military campaign was launched against the Shi‘ia militia who were attacking the Sunni neighborhoods in the name of fighting al-Qaida. That gave the Shi‘ia dominated government Sunni support in in fighting al-Qaida which made a tremendous impact in the battle. Al-Qaida was pushed out of the Sunni Triangle and out of Baghdad to a mountain area north of Baghdad in the provinces of Ninava, Tikrit, Kirkuk, and Diyala. This area had no cities or villages or even accessible roads—important for the most rudimentary operational base. The area was surrounded by hundreds of military checkpoints, run by Iraqi security forces. Al-Qaida lost its last support in Iraq and the Islamic world saw all of the devastating attacks against Iraqi civilians and the death toll among Muslim Iraqis— hundreds of times higher than the coalition-caused deaths in Iraq. Even the most extremist groups started questioning the point of this massacre against Muslims in the name of jihad. Al-Qaida lost the initiative, lost the domestic support, and lost the international extremist sympathy which decreased the supply of foreign recruits on whom they depended to carry out their suicide attacks in Iraq. At the end of 2008 a joint intelligence operation led by the American Special Forces with the Iraqi Special Forces on a Syrian border town led to the capture of one of al-Qaida‘s leaders alive. From his confiscated laptop security forces found all of the information about the international


recruits and their routes from Europe and North Africa and the Middle East. After the capture, European security authorities launched a detain campaign against extremist organizations linked to that leader. This huge loss impacted the operations of al-Qaida‘s suicide missions in Iraq. With al-Qaida left crippled and handcuffed, choking with no international aid, starving for domestic support, they started thinking about another strategy. For the first time alQaida used female suicide bombers in Iraq. From a western perspective it may seem inconsequential, but anybody who knows the structure of the society and the traditions and the beliefs of Muslims, it was a radical change in tactics. According to all Muslim schools of thought, including Ibn Taymiyya and the Salafis, there is no jihad for the women—jihad is requisite for all Muslim men and women are exempt from this responsibility. They can participate if they want but most likely as a matter of culture, they didn‘t in Iraq, even in al-Qaida attacks up until then. The huge security increase in Iraq, and the huge decrease of the amounts of attacks which went from 200 attacks per day to 17 attacks per day, gave the government the time and the maneuvering space to distribute its forces and regain the initiative to launch counter attacks against the insurgency. But, the security forces in Iraq are almost entirely male and in Iraq, just like any other Muslim country, especially in the Middle East, a male security officer is not allowed to touch or search any female, and sometimes, not even allowed to go through her personal belongings such as a purse or a backpack or carry-on, except in some government buildings and airports.


Al-Qaida used this hole in security and started recruiting women to launch suicide attacks because they knew how dangerous this weapon would be and the amount of effort the government would need to train another army, of female security personnel and distribute them to all of the important checkpoints and security units, or to order male security officers to search females which would cause the government indescribably outcry from the public. Either way, the government would need time to adjust to the tactic and find the solution to it which would not be easy. That was al-Qaida‘s reasoning, to take back the initiative back from out of the hands of the Iraqi government and put the Iraqi government on the defensive again. Fall of Empire: Redux It is said in Arabic that Arabs ―chew on history‖ meaning that it is an inextricable part of everyday life. That being said, is it impossible to understand why one human being would end their life to end the lives of others. Through this comprehensive history, we examined how Mamluk ambivalence contributed to the fall of the Muslim Empire at the hands of the Mongols in the 13th century. The subsequent integration of the Mongols and that of crusaders who stayed after the battles led to a dilution of Arab Muslim culture. These incidents deeply impacted Ibn Taymiyya, the jurist who re-defined Jihad as a right explicitly reserved for a fair Imam to something any Islamic jurist can declare. At the time of the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the Wahabis based their ideology on Ibn Taymiyya‘s Salafi interpretations, based on a similar sequence of events. After the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the presence of American troops on holy Muslim land


during the two Gulf Wars of the 1990‘s, bin Laden and al-Qaida saw the same threat to Islam that Ibn Taymiyya saw, leading them to revive his ideology once again.


I began my search on Lexis-Nexis Academic Resource (Lexis Nexis 2010)and identified all mentions of ―Iraq‖ and ―female‖ and ―suicide terroris*‖. I compiled all of the news with those I collected from the internet cross-listed with incident database (Iraq Body Count 2010) as well as that of (Anti 2010) and with the Brooking‘s Institution ―Iraq Index” (O' Hanlon and Livingston 2010). I entered this into a table of raw data as attached in Appendix A. The highly politicized debate in the U.S. surrounding the effectiveness of increased troop levels and more generally the Iraq war in general has negative effects on data collection surrounding incidents of violence. Some websites seek to over-represent the casualties and other sites to over-represent the effectiveness of the surge. Thus, military counts of this data would be more accurate though possibly still biased to reflect the success of their operations in reducing violence or civilian deaths, or to reflect what organizational goals they have. The U.S. government has not declassified any documents relating to terrorism since 1987, and none about Iraq since 2003. However, one can apply for an account to access government documents through the Freedom of Information Act, as well as information from Getting an account is not an expedient procedure but it is recommended for anyone with long-term involvement in this research. Thus my research is limited by the widely varying reports of death and injury counts, as well as inconsistencies in the permanence of digital news sources beyond one or two years.


The use of female suicide attackers is in Iraq is a strategic organizational decision. It was a response to the increase of America and Multi-National Force Coalition troops in 2007 that acted as a barrier to the use of male suicide bombers. The fact that an overwhelming majority of attacks were perpetrated in Diyala Province shows a strategic decision to use women. This is especially true when combined with the confessions of a captured organizer which shows us that 34% of the total of female suicide attackers in Iraq were directly and strategically organized by this one woman. What makes women more successful perpetrators of suicide attacks is the fact that they are culturally exempt from search by the predominantly male security apparatus. The absence of self-organization also makes the use of women a clearly strategic decision. Many of these women were coerced to participate as shown by the same apprehended organizer, and some women were very young or mentally handicapped. Iraqi female suicide bombers were selected and recruited by an operator, meaning someone else made the decision to perpetrate this act rather than each individual woman. In contrast to the infamous and widely circulated propaganda videos and messages celebrating martyrs, nothing of this sort is made to boast the acts of these women. Palestinian suicide organizations not only use women, but also include them in


postmortem. Attacks of this nature are strategic because of the perceived effectiveness of female bombers, at least in infiltration if not necessarily in number killed. The Surge On January 10th of 2007, President Bush announced his ―New Way Forward‖, an action plan to deploy an additional five U.S. Army Brigades, approximately 20,000 American soldiers to Iraq (Laurent 2009). Also known as the ―surge‖, this increase in troop levels was intended to reinforce and secure Baghdad and the Sunni Anbar province. This action proved effective at reducing casualty rates in affected areas over the long term. Table 1 shows the astonishing 62% reduction in Iraqi civilian casualties from 2007 when the surge was announced, to a year later. In the year of 2007 alone, there was a 68% reduction in Iraqi civilian deaths from 2,807 in January of 2007 to 905 Iraqi civilian deaths in December of 2007. 2003 3 2 3977 3437 544 594 649 792 555 516 483 529 12,081 2004 571 603 957 1267 618 831 781 822 941 946 1531 906 10,774 2005 1046 1203 785 1024 1226 1215 1444 2166 1330 1201 1208 996 14,844 2006 1439 1451 1791 1593 2110 2430 3165 2745 2412 2926 2987 2683 27,732 2007 2807 2536 2616 2436 2757 2094 2575 2333 1225 1187 1053 905 24,524 2008 744 1011 1540 1261 761 671 586 592 534 522 473 522 9,217 2009 276 343 416 484 327 487 394 585 298 404 205 426 4,645 2010 258 296 311 145 * * * * * * * * 1,010

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec


Table 1: Iraqi Civilian Deaths iraqbodycount.org48 Acessed 04/22//2010

The rise in the number of deaths points to the need to address the comprehensive roots of suicide terrorism as implemented by Salafi jihadist organizations. Comprehensive literature reviews by authors in the social sciences such as Martha Crenshaw have shown an opportunity to clearly define the historical background of differences between the ideological justification used by Shi‘i groups-who see their actions as defensive-and the offensive nature of Salafi-based jihad groups (such as alQaida) leaves room for a better general understanding of the matter. Digging Deep There is relatively little literature that analyzes the number of female suicide attackers in Iraq from 2005 through 2010. Yet the reason why I found it so critical to research this subject, the contemporary nature of the conflict, was also the cause of much of the difficulty in researching it. While much investigation has been done with regard to women‘s participation in secular nationalist struggles, such as their pivotal role in Algeria‘s FLN (National Liberation Front) and in the infamous LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam), the reportage of attacks and the associated body counts is a grim and

According to the Iraq Body Count website the data is based on 22,451 database entries from the beginning of the war to 26 April 2010. The most recent weeks are always in the process of compilation and will rise further. The current range contains 4,243–4,398 deaths (4.4%–4.2%, a portion which may rise or fall over time) based on single-sourced reports. Graphs are based on the higher number in our totals. Gaps in recording and reporting suggest that even our highest totals to date may be missing many civilian deaths from violence.



sometimes sporadic business. Subsequently, it has been difficult to find consistent reliable figures of women‘s participation in suicide campaigns in Iraq. From the data I compiled, I synthesized Figure1 below, showing the number dead and wounded by female suicide attackers. This shows the marked increase from 2007 to 2008 in the number of people killed and injured by female suicide attackers.

Figure 1: Number Dead and Injured by Female Suicide Attackers

Strategic Motivations of Organizations According to Robert Pape‘s ―The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism‖, suicide attacks are implemented by organizations that follow a strategic logic. He claims that suicide attacks have increased since the 1980‘s because of the tactic‘s success in gaining concessions from the modern liberal democracies they target..


Pape‘s critical finding is that terrorism is strategic, not random or isolated; perpetrated by individual fanatics, but in clusters as part of larger campaign. Groups announce specific goals and stop attacks when those have been achieved. According to Pape, the strategic logic of suicide terrorism is specifically designed to coerce modern democracies to make significant concessions to national self-determination especially in the face of foreign occupation. Pape concludes that groups continue to use suicide attacks largely because of their success in the 1980‘s and 1990‘s. Thus, the most promising way to contain suicide terrorism is to reduce terrorists‘ confidence in their ability to carry out such attacks on the target society. Pape argues that, ―States that face persistent suicide terrorism should recognize that higher offensive military action nor concessions alone are likely to do much good and should invest significant resources in border defense and other means of homeland security.‖ (Pape, The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism 2003) While Pape‘s premise that the strategic logic of suicide attacks targets liberal democracies to earn territorial concessions is validated by his research, my data suggests that it is not so in Iraq. Of the 72 attacks perpetrated in Iraq by female suicide bombers, not one targeted the Multi-National Force Coalition or even any non-Iraqi interests. Every single female perpetrated attack targeted Shi‘i neighborhoods and pilgrims, Awakening coalition members, Iraqi police, and other local interests such as weddings. According to Pape, psychological profiles are not one size fits all, and therefore such evaluations are not very useful. Even if suicide attackers are irrational or fanatical,


the leadership that directs and recruits them is not. He cites Thomas Schelling‘s, ―the rationality of irrationality,‖ in which, ―an act that is irrational for individual attackers is meant to demonstrate credibility to a democratic audience that still more and greater attacks are sure to come. As such, modern suicide terrorism is analogous to instances of international coercion.‖ Thus terrorism is effectively the coercive instrument of choice of the weaker group in an asymmetrical conflict. Strategic Location of Female-Perpetrated Attacks Of the 72 women who perpetrated suicide attacks in Iraq from 2005 to 2010, 76% of these attacks were carried out after the beginning of the surge. Figure 1 shows the dramatic decrease of male-perpetrated attacks after the beginning of the surge in 2007. At this same time, female-perpetrated attacks reached their all-time high. In political science, a barrier is defined as any mechanism through which one group limits the ability of any other group to attack it. Barriers essentially require some amount of time and effort to be defeated or circumvented, thus increasing the resources needed to complete an operation against the group that erected the barrier (Jervis, Allingham & Sandmo, Andreoni et al, as cited by an-Nakhla). By increasing the planning required on the offending side, barriers slow down offending groups and give the erectors more time to prepare for their attack. An-Nakhla says ―a barrier supported with checkpoint systems and surveillance increases the possibility of stopping and punishing infiltrators before they reach their targets.‖ (Nakhala 2009).


500 450 400 350 300 250 200 150 100

Total and Female Suicide Attacks per Year

50 0 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010*

Figure 2: Total and Female Attacks per Year

Attacks Erecting barriers is not a tactic that prevents attacks outright, but rather one that In her doctoral prospectus, Dua‘a an-Nakhla claims that, ―barriers are institutions

attempts to mitigate their frequency and effectiveness in terms of casualties inflicted. I contend that the increased use of female suicide bombers by al-Qaida in Mesopotamia49 and other related Sunni terrorist groups was a strategic reaction to the increased difficulties faced by men in the perpetration of suicide attacks over time.

of intensified border-policing enabling the state to practice coercion and extraction. These practices include preventing exit and entry, suppressing contraband, and extracting revenues from goods and people in the form of customs taxes.‖ (Nakhala 2009). I would further posit that the surge of troops, the capture of high-level al-Qaida in Mesopotamia


The part of al-Qaida which operates in Iraq goes by the name ―al-Qaida in Mesopotamia‖


operatives, and loss of public support ostensibly served as immaterial barriers. These three factors meet the criteria of a barrier and have the intention defined above, without being a physical barrier such as a wall (Gavrillis n.d.).

Targets of Female Attacks
2% 1% American Patrol Awakening Members



Checkpoint Courthouse Hospital Market 7% Police Shi'a Mosques & Neighborhoods

5% 13% 17%


Shi'a Pilgrims

Wedding Procession

Figure 3: Breakdown of Female-Perpetrated Suicide Attacks by Target

Female Perpetrator, Female Recruiter This is supported by the anecdote of the capture of the Iraqi woman by the operational name of Um al-Mu‘mineen, or ―mother of the believers‖. She confessed to orchestrating the rape of dozens of women in order to later convince them that the only way to recover their honor was to perpetrate suicide attacks (Haynes 2009). The 51 yearold woman claims that she was personally responsible for the recruitment of over 80


young women this way, and that 24 of them went on to perpetrate suicide attacks in Diyala and Baghdad. According to intelligence officials, al-Mu‘mineen is directly connected to at least 24 female-perpetrated attacks in Baghdad and in the province of Diyala. Based on my data, it is clear that attacks from Baghdad and Diyala‘s city of Baquba account for the majority of attacks, perhaps due in part to the recruitment of vulnerable women by Um al-Mu‘mineen and her collaborators. Al-Mu‘mineen (whose real name was Samira Ahmed Jassim) worked for a network of Sunni extremists that directed her to orchestrate these attacks. They supplied her with a monthly stipend and living quarters above a store where she sold abayas, the long flowing black robes in which she concealed her recruits‘ bombs. Though the rapes have not been independently confirmed, she allegedly manipulated the rape victims to escape the shame of their life on Earth in the service of God. Figure 3 shows the location of female-perpetrated suicide attacks. Baquba is a city in the province of Diyala. This means that 48% of the women who committed suicide attacks did so in, and were likely from, Diyala. Thus we can conclude that a strong correlation exists between the political and social climate of that area and female suicide attacks. Diyala is a province in the Sunni triangle where al-Qaida held their organizational stronghold before the surge and awakening programs really took hold. Figure 3 shows that 49% of attacks were perpetrated in this province (with 48% in


Baquba alone, a city in Diyala). This geographic centralization shows the organizational nature female-perpetrated attacks.

Location of Female Attacks
2% 3% 5% 8% 2% 28% Baghdad Baiji Baquba Diyala Dura Falluja Kirkuk 1% Tal Afar Tarmia 48% Tikrit


Figure 4: Location of Female Suicide Attacks

According to the newspaper article, this was called a ―significant breakthrough‖ by Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, a Baghdad security spokesman. The article also confirms that, ―Female suicide bombers became a weapon of choice for al-Qaeda and other extremist groups in Iraq over the past year because they can penetrate more easily the defenses of the increasingly competent Iraqi security forces.‖ (Abdul-Zahra and Murphy 2009)


―Um al-Mu‘mineen‖ was responsible for recruiting 24 female suicide attackers as she claims to have done, this shows that she was directly responsible for 37% of all female-perpetrated suicide attacks in Iraq from 2005-2010. Female Attacks From September 2009 to April 2010 by Location 18 Baghdad 1 Baiji 30 Baquba 1 Diyala 1 Dura 1 Falluja 5 Kirkuk 3 Tal Afar 1 Tarmia 2 Tikrit From this example we can surmise that Um alMu‘mineen was not the only such recruiter for Ansar alIslam, a group widely associated with al-Qaida. Rather, she exemplified the strategic trend by terrorist organizations to manipulate social conventions of the need to cleanse personal and family honor after a rape through an honor killing. IN this case, she convinced the women to perpetrate honor suicide attacks.

Table 2: Location of Female Perpetrated Suicide Attacks

Unwilling Martyrs Recruiters like Um al-Mu‘mineen target women in weak positions, as shown not only by the coercion of rape victims, but also by the October 8 th, 2009 incident. According to my research a 13 year-old girl attacked a checkpoint where a 15-year-old girl had previously been detained (Chulov 2009). The coercive nature of the recruitment of women and girls in weak positions in society is further shown by the example of Rania al-Ibrahim—a young girl who was stopped before she detonated the bomb strapped under her robes in a crowded Baquba


market. She remembered her husband taking her to a woman‘s house where she was served cookies and juice. This juice was drugged, and after they strapped her with a remote-controlled bomb she was sent out to walk to the market. As the narcotic haze began to lift, she realized that ―she didn‘t want to die‖ and walked toward a police officer. The bomb was disarmed and she was subsequently taken into custody unharmed (Chulov 2009). The infamous February 1st double pet market attacks in Baghdad was another example of recruiters selecting vulnerable women. Explosives strapped to these two women‘s chests were detonated by remote control, killing 99 and injuring over 154 Iraqis. While the original claim that these women were mentally retarded was exaggerated, they were indeed recruited from a mental institution—a clear example of the weak in society being preyed on and manipulated by the strong. Strategic, Not Symbolic Actions In his article, ―Dying to Be Martyrs: The Symbolic Dimension of Suicide Terrorism‖, Mohammed Hafez argues that individuals are driven to suicide terrorism by motives different than those held by their organizers. Organizations have strategic goals and employ religion, ritual, and ceremony to legitimate and honor martyrdom. They frame their tactics as a continuation of accepted and revered historical traditions in order to imbue their worldly goals with the transcendent morality associated with national salvation or religious redemption. Having that in mind, Hafez looks at (in the case of


Palestinian terrorism) the symbolic meaning ascribed to suicide attacks both by the organizers and by the attackers themselves. None of these things, however, apply to the case of Iraqi female suicide attackers. The organizations which dispatch these women do not organize ceremonies to celebrate their martyrdom. Attackers themselves leave no commemorative good-bye videos recording any ideological justification for their suicide. The recruiting organizations do not employ the rhetoric of national or ethnic redemption. Rather, recruits are more likely to be reminded of the practical reasons why their sacrifice is the best way to de-shame themselves and their families. Hafez details the way in which a favorable cultural climate resonates with the population is created, in effect tailoring history to meet their needs, effectively inspiring the martyrs. The essence of this act is the process ―whereby old ideas are represented in new ways that appear to be simultaneously authentic and relevant for contemporary times.‖ (p 15). The purpose of my detailed historical review is to underscore the fact that historical events such as the revelation of Islam to the prophet and his defeat of the infidels were parallels to Ibn Taymiyya, and to point out that their stories are now the legitimizing rhetorical force behind Salafi jihad groups. Though Muslim groups around the world who want to join this subscribe to Ibn Taymiyya‘s rhetoric, the direct recruitment of Iraqi female suicide attackers is not characterized by the celebration of martyrdom in the way that was seen in Hafez‘s Palestinian case studies. Hence this


absent cultural climate has been critical to the diminishing public support for Ansar alIslam and other groups responsible for dispatching female suicide attackers. I argue that if Iraqi female attackers were coming out of a symbolic cultural practice, these attackers would be backed by organizations who spin the attack into something that is redemptive in the field of ―religious revivalism, nationalist conflict, and community ties.‖ (Hafez n.d.) The fact that the connection between history and the present is so easily made is clear after a brief recollection of events such as the successful Iranian revolution and the successful liberation of Afghanistan. After decades of failed democracies in the Middle East, Islamic organizations have come out of the experience pointing to this as evidence of their social role as successful change agents. In the mid-20th century, Gamal Abdel Nasser was the iconic champion of Arab democracy at the time when the Arab street was widely secular in nature. When he fell, the symbol that he had become died as well, which created room for Islamist organizations to fill the void in public life. The beloved symbol of Nasser has been conflated with the role of the corrupt and unbelieving Meccans at the time of the spread of the prophet‘s message. Now, the fight by the believers against the unjust has turned into their justification for taking lives. The coercive nature of recruitment of Iraqi female suicide bombers, the absence of commemorative shaheed 50videos and pictures and parties shows that the bases of Hafez‘s symbolic dimensions are simply absent from the Iraqi female example.




Furthermore, the wide circulation of al-Qaida shaheed videos elsewhere indicates that women are still not equal in the organization. As seen in the deep historical and ideological justifications available for recruiting, inspiring this culture would be simple if al-Qaida‘s goal was to do so. Yet, this is just not the case in Iraq. Thus it seems that the symbolic dimension present in Hafez‘s studies is absent here, and that it is replaced by the cold calculations of wider organizational strategy. Female Multipliers Having seen the clearly strategic motivations for the use of female attackers as opposed to a symbolic cultural or individual desire, we can now examine the benefits of using female attackers. Women magnify the desired effect of suicide attacks by garnering more media attention than the now more commonplace act of a man detonating a suicide vest, or driving into an imagined afterlife in a car bomb. Despite the hundreds of suicide attacks perpetrated worldwide every month, only a select few reach our ears. We have become accustomed to men blowing themselves up in the name of a god or nationalist cause, yet something deep inside a human being is caught off guard at the news of a female suicide attacker. Some claim (Patkin vol. 7, number 2) that attacks carried out by women are more deadly because of this element of surprise. The notion that people are less suspicious of women to begin with would allow them to do more damage, at least in theory.


In Table 3 below shows that while the total number of suicide operations decreased dramatically from 442 in 2007 to 83 in 2008, female perpetrated attacks rose from 4 in 2007 to 42 in 2008. In 2008, female attacks made up 50% of total suicide attacks including car bombs in Iraq. This dramatic shift means that organizational resources previously devoted to using male attackers were repurposed to deploy female attackers.


Total Suicide Attacks

Total Number of Deaths by Suicide Attacks and Car Bombs

Female Suicide Attacks

Female Attackers

Female Attacks Deaths

Female Attacks Injured

2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010* Totals

478 297 442 83 76 12 1,388

3614 5840 7665 3650 2993 660 24422

2 4 4 38 11 6 65

3 2 4 42 12 6 69

45 80 13 564 374 120 1196

102 130 36 839 548 370 2025

*Total number up to April of 2010 compiled from Iraq Body Count database & Lexis Nexis. **Total Deaths added from the count per day. *** Female counts compiled from Lexis Nexis.
Table 3: Total Suicide and Car Bombs and Female Perpetrated Suicide Attacks

Perverting the image of a woman, who traditionally nurtures and gives life, into an agent of death and destruction symbolically impacts society and garners a great deal media coverage (O'Rourke 2009) . For some deeply rooted biological reason, we as humans are much more inclined to react with sympathy at the image of a female attacker,


feeling that something must be wrong for a woman to blow herself up (Thayer and Hudson 2010). This is contrary to the anger and desire for revenge typically inspired by a similar attack perpetrated by a man instead. Thus it has been documented that female attackers, through their increased media attention have a greater psychological impact than male attackers. This image is relevant in that it also contributes to the loss of public support of local Sunni populations for extremist Salafi organizations. According to Mia Bloom in her article ―Female Suicide Bombers: A Global Trend‖, ―Attacks by women receive eight times the media coverage as attacks by men, again largely because of the expectation that women are not violent.‖ (Bloom, Female Suicide Bombers: A Global Trend 2007) God Knows No Wrath like a Woman Scorned Unlike the motivations of women in separatist, nationalist, or other secular organizations such as Chechen black widows, Palestinian female attackers, and female members of the Algerian FLN during their nationalist campaigns of the last century, Iraqi female women were not likely motivated by desire for revenge—even though they were Muslim and their cause is nationalist. Palestinian women declare feminist intention, Iraqi women don‘t leave videos or statements at all indicating that they are just foot soldiers, part of organizational strategy (O'Rourke 2009). In conclusion, the Salafi groups in Iraq, through recruiters such as Um alMumineen made the strategic decision to use female suicide bombers in reaction to the effectiveness of the troop surge in 2007. This surge made it more difficult for male


suicide attackers to infiltrate, but because of cultural conventions, male soldiers are forbidden from searching them. The fact that these women were recruited, and did not organize themselves independently shows that this was a strategic organizational decision. An overwhelming majority, 49% , of female-perpetrated attacks were in the state of Diyala, a former terrorist stronghold. These attacks targeted the former supporters of Sunni terrorist groups, the members of the awakening. In contrast to the availability of martyr propaganda circulated worldwide and on the internet, no such statements were made by these women, showing that they did not share in the common-found pride of a martyr. Through this, according to Patkin, ―the female suicide bomber turns into a victim in the midst of what she may consider the most empowered act of her life.‖ (Patkin vol. 7, number 2)


“Terrorism, like war, never ends; however, individual terrorist campaigns and the groups that wage them always do.” Audrey Cronin, How al-Qaida Ends

Terrorism is a threat to international security. It is a threat that will not be defeated by a unilateral war or occupation, because terrorism, on an esoteric level is not the hatred of freedom, nor is it a fascist club, nor even a great clash of civilizations. Terrorism is the cyclical, violent expression of the farthest extreme of any ideology. Terrorism‘s allure can be harnessed by any group, in any country, at any time to express frustrations upon reaching an insufferable apex. A deep understanding of the history Jihad shows unequivocally that Islam as preached by the Prophet Mohammed strictly forbids declaring Jihad against any enemy, even crusaders, without the presence of a fair Imam. The Mongolian invasions that razed Baghdad ended the hereditary line requisite to be appointed a fair imam. Having witnessed the collapse of Muslim power, the 13th century jurist Ibn Taymiyya advocated practicing Islam as was done by the as-salaf as-salih , the Muslims who lived during the time of the prophet and of the four rightly-guided caliphs. The Salafi ideology that he developed is the most radically conservative form of Islam. In his book “Hijab al-Mar’a‖, he advocates covering women‘s hands and eyes and relegating


them to reproductive roles in society, even forbidding them from praying in mosques. Ibn Taymiyya and the Salafi ideology that he founded are the most radically sexist in Islam. The cognitive dissonance of the use of female perpetrators in the ultimate sacred act of martyrdom by an organization that subscribes to Salafi ideology is astounding. Chapter 1shows how, with striking arrogance Ibn Taymiyya revised all of Islamic jurisprudence in order to expropriate the sacred right of declaring Jihad. As common practice a right reserved to the supreme leader of the Muslim Umma by all other Muslim ideologies. Understanding the anti-female nature of the only ideology within Islam that acknowledges the right of contemporary Muslims to wage Jihad shows us that the use of female suicide attackers by Salafi-Jihadi groups is an earth-shattering development in their terrorist modus operandi. Even in death, there is no equality for these women, who, instead of being glorified in Salafi propaganda as their male counterparts, have died to deaf ears. Analysis in Chapter 2 showed that use of female attackers is a failed strategic tactic at the organizational level. The successful operation of a terrorist organization requires public support. The use of women to perpetrate attacks is contrary to the status quo roles ascribed to women in the Middle East, especially in rural areas of Baquba where many of these perpetrators came from. Public support has already reached rock bottom. In 2004, Salafi Jihadi organizations were in full control of entire provinces of Iraq; marketing themselves as the Sunni vanguard in the face of sectarian violence, and


subsequently in the face of the Shi‘i dominated government. The public support they enjoyed then enabled them to hit hard targets such as the military and general infrastructure. Al-Qaida in Mesopotamia and other related Salafi based organizations such as Ansar al-Islam would still perpetrate attacks on hard targets such as military installations if they could. Just nine years ago in 2001, al-Qaida attacked the Pentagon. Today in Iraq, they have bee weakened too the point where they can barely attack a checkpoint. This is because of the effectiveness of the surge and the awakening movement, and the loss of public support due to the use of female suicide bombers to target fellow Sunnis. The shift to targeting soft targets—pilgrims and policemen—that we see today has proven to be a double edged sword. Soft targets are also attacked for the sake of revenge against the ‗traitor‘ Sunnis who ‗betrayed‘ Salafi organizations by participating in the general Iraqi security and political apparatus. The key difference between true Iraqi Salafis and other Sunni Iraqis is that Sunni Iraqis attacked American interests in Iraq because their country had been invaded; al-Qaida attacks American interests at every opportunity. Swaths of Sunnis switched sides when given the chance to participate in the new political order. The so-called ―Sons of Iraq‖ wanted what anyone wants, a decent wage for a respectable job and an honorable life. After this betrayal, al-Qaida treated the members of the Awakening as the enemy, and the feeling was mutual. Al-Qaida has assassinated enough Sunni members of the Awakening to garner the contempt and bloodlust of prominent Sunni tribes. Based on the


workings of tribal culture, this turns all members of the tribe against the killer of any other member. Proportionally, a higher percentage of the Sunni population has been killed than that of the larger Shi‘i one, creating a large base of anti-al-Qaida sentiment— the opposite of the situation before the implementation of the Awakening. Chauvinistic underpinnings of the organizations deploying female perpetrators mean that these women are slaughtering themselves in the name of their own oppression. Granted, as we saw in the cases of young drugged brides, remote controlled bombs, and mentally impaired women, not all of the female attackers were consciously choosing to sacrifice themselves in this way. For those Iraqi women who perpetrated attacks fi sabil allah51, it was not culturesymbolically motivated, nor by a desire for fame, nor to make a feminist statement. These motivations are prevalent among female participants in nationalist movements such as Tunisia‘s struggle for decolonization, and by the recent attacks on Moscow‘s subway by two young Dagestani women. The two Dagestani women were self-motivated to participate in Jihad, and organized themselves rather than being recruited by an organization. Granted, this could be explained by their deep and pre-existing indoctrination. Through the capture and confession of the recruiter female Iraqi Um alMu‘mineen it is clear that many of the individual motivations of these women were actually based in a desire to cleanse the shame of rape.


‫ فيبسبيوبهللا‬for the cause of God


In the face of a successful quell of violence by the surge of Multi-National Coalition Forces in Iraq; a wildly successful Awakening movement that incorporated alQaida‘s natural supporters, and; an even further alienation of this group by making them the targets of the attacks they once orchestrated, al-Qaida resorted to using female perpetrators of suicide attacks to circumvent the security apparatus in their campaigns against soft targets. At its core, Salafi ideology places women at the lowest place in society. By giving them the greatest honor a Salafi Muslim can earn, they have jeopardized their future organizational survival in three ways. The disparity between what they practice and what they preach tarnishes their reputation while alienating their true believers who deem women unworthy of martyrdom. Third of all, targeting other Sunni Muslims further polarizes their constituency against them. Consequences Security forces all over the world are responding to female attackers by hiring more women to participate in security apparatuses. This is not limited to the military or to employing them in check points—women are increasingly participating (and being recruited) to fill positions traditionally filled by men, such as special Marine task forces—a grand irony in consideration of the beliefs of the organization that is inconsequentially causing it.Some reports hint the potential use of female attackers in the West, due to their ability to blend in as done by female members of the Algerian FLN (National Liberation Front).


Furthermore, the potential consequences for the future of al-Qaida are unimaginable. I found no evidence of feminist motivation in the attacks in my research, however, there may be potential for it to have this impact on a new generation of educated and conservative youth all over the Arab Middle East. If women continue to be included in Salafi organizations, namely in al-Qaeda, one of two things may happen. Al-Qaeda will have to reevaluate the ideology it chooses to follow and claim to represent regarding the position of women, or a new Ibn-Taymiyya will have to rise to the challenge of establishing a new school of ideology that can support both jihad in the absence of a fair imam and the participation of women in it; which are two mutually-exclusive characteristics of current affairs. Otherwise, as al-Qaeda ceases practicing what it preaches, this will tear the organization apart from the inside.


Appendix A: Raw Data
Date 9/28/2005 12/6/2005 4/7/2006 9/29/2006 6/5/2007 11/28/2007 12/8/2007 12/31/2007 1/2/2008 1/3/2008 1/16/2008 1/17/2008 1/29/2008 2/1/2008 2/1/2008 2/1/2008 3/17/2008 4/17/2008 4/21/2008 4/22/2008 4/29/2008 Number dead 7 38 74 6 att 0 7 5 10 10 8 9 2 72 62 37 43 55 4 4 0 Number Wounded 35 67 130 unk att 12 15 9 28 unk 7 14 5 unk 88 56 73 unk 5 unk 5 Target police recruitment center police academy Shi'a Mosque market shot attacker american patrol market police patrol shi'a pilgrims Shia neighborhood shi'a town shi'a pilgrims police shi'a pilgrims pet market pet market shi'a pilgrims funeral for awakening police police awakening City Tal Afar Baghdad Baghdad Tal Afar Baghdad Baghdad Baiji Baquba Baquba Baquba Kirkuk Baquba Baquba Baquba Baghdad Baghdad Baquba Baquba Baquba Baquba Diyala


5/1/2008 5/17/2008 5/21/2008 6/15/2008 6/22/2008 6/22/2008 6/22/2008 6/29/2008 6/30/2008 7/24/2008 7/28/2008 7/28/2008 7/28/2008 Aug-08 8/24/2008 9/15/2008 Oct-08 10/8/2008 10/18/2008 Nov-08 Nov-08 11/10/2008 11/10/2008 11/10/2008 11/24/2008

35 33 1 4 17 15 15 0 3 8 7 32 25 att att 17 2 10 att unk 3 3 5 5 5

65 54 7 34 42 35 40 3 7 30 23 102 52 att att 8 unk 21 att unk 7 unk unk 15 12

wedding procession awakening Kirkuk baghdad government policemen courthouse police Shia neighborhood awakening political rally shi'a pilgrims shi'a pilgrims market police academy police checkpoint courthouse awakening unk hospital market checkpoint awakening checkpoint

Baquba Tarmia Kirkuk Baghdad Baghdad Baquba Baquba Baquba Baquba Baquba Kirkuk Baghdad Baghdad Baquba Baghdad Baquba Baquba Baquba Baquba Baquba Falluja Baquba Kirkuk Baquba Baghdad


12/15/2008 1/4/2009 1/4/2009 1/4/2009 1/4/2009 1/7/2009 2/13/2009 4/23/2009 4/24/2009 4/25/2009 7/8/2009 12/6/2009 2/1/2010 2/2/2010 2/4/2010 2/12/2010 4/29/2010

1 40 36 38 40 att 40 33 71 60 9 7 54 41 20 4 1

1 72 unk unk 72 att 83 57 126 125 unk 13 117 106 117 25 5

awakening member and son shi'a pilgrims shi'a pilgrims shi'a pilgrims shi'a pilgrims shi'a pilgrims shi'a pilgrims awakening shi'a pilgrims shi'a pilgrims checkpoint shi'a Mosque shi'a pilgrims shi'a pilgrims shi'a pilgrims market awakening

Baghdad Baquba Kirkuk Tikrit Baghdad Baghdad Baquba Dura Tal Afar Baghdad Baquba Baquba Baghdad Baquba Tikret Baghdad Baquba

This data was collected me as detained in Methodology.


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Angela Piñeyro De Hoyos Candidate for Special Honors in Middle Eastern Studies The University of Texas at Austin May 2010

Angie Piñeyro De Hoyos is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin graduating in May of 2010 from the Department of Middle Eastern Studies with honors. She has lived in Austin since her mother returned to to finish her PhD 15 years ago. Angie hopes to enter the JDS, dual M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas in the fall of 2011 will spend this summer as a fellow at Public Strategies Incorporated in Austin, Tx. She is fluent in Spanish, French, and Arabic, and loves to sing, dance, eat, cook, and trail run.


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