Previously, in groups such as al-Qaeda, women who were associated with the terrorist organization were presented as tough and resilient as in the case of alleged militant supporter Sajida al-Rishawi who appears in her confessional videos with a seemingly callous composure and a facial expression wholly devoid of emotion. The recent emergence of ISIS female militants marks a transition in this archetype, with female terrorists being portrayed as sentimental, passionate and overtly emotional. Along with being increasingly romanticized, the characters of the females are also often strongly interwoven with the roles they occupy within their romantic relationships, with many being celebrated for travelling to Syria by breaking the laws of their countries to marry the jihadists that they have fallen in love with. It is this “forbidden love” narrative that adds an additional facet to their sentimentality as they are portrayed in their roles as wives as romantic and passionate in their quest for love. An example of ISIS’ perpetuation of this narrative lies in the case of reported Malaysian militant Shams, who details her innermost emotions in her “diary of a muhajirah” which documents each moment of her love story with her jihadist husband, from first sight to wedding day. With the newly-constructed image of the female militant, ISIS is effectively humanizing the female jihadists in an attempt to make them relatable to young, impressionable girls of today who could gradually find themselves becoming sympathetic to the cause of the female militants.
With male militants leading military operations, female militants are crucial to the structure of the average ISIS household where the male holds less significance than the female militant because he is expected to face death anytimeDr. Halla Diyab