Tired of the same old women’s magazine beauty tips? Is the anti-feminist bent of the supermarket glossies just not extreme enough? Al-Shamika is ready to fill the women-centric media space between Cosmopolitan and, uh, Technical Mujahid.
Earlier this month, Al-Fajr, a jihadist media distribution outlet, published the first issue of Al-Shamikha (“the majestic woman”), an online magazine marketed exclusively toward a female jihadi audience. Welcome to the she-had.
Shamika seems to be a mix of beauty tips (avoid “towelling too forcibly,” ladies) with the usual dose of al-Qaeda propaganda. Its opening pages describe the magazine’s purpose as inspiring more female terrorists, since “since [the enemies] know all too well what would happen if women entered the field of jihad.”
Shamika’s table of contents lists articles on “Marrying a jihadist,” “Sharia law that applies to you” and “Your house is your kingdom,” as well as a “meeting with a jihad wife.” Not exactly a leading role for women.
In the next issue, Shamikha looks like it’s going to get service-y. The Independent writes that issue No. 2 will have tips on waging “electronic jihad.” If so, then Shamikha is the Hairpin to Inspire’s Awl.
But it’s not the first jihadi magazine just for womenfolk. Al-Khansa, founded in part by Saudi al-Qaeda leader Abd al-Aziz al-Muqrin and published by the Women’s Media Bureau in the Arabian Peninsula, published its first issue in August 2004 and offered a similar approach to interpreting al-Qaeda’s narrative for a female audience.
It published articles praising women as supporters of jihad, saying “The blood of our husbands and the body parts of our children are the sacrifice by means of which we draw closer to Allah, so that through us, Allah will cause the martyrdom for His sake to succeed.”
But just as other early Saudi al-Qaeda publications like Sawt al-Jihad and al-Battar magazines fell by the wayside, al-Khansa stopped publishing.(Story continues below)
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Women haven’t always been relegated to support roles in Islamist terrorist groups, though. They’ve perpetrated or attempted acts of Islamist terrorism in Russia and Chechnya, Jordan, Israel, Iraq and, if Pennsylvania’s “Jihad Jane” had been successful, in Sweden. Some jihadists aren’t exactly comfortable with the idea of women playing a more active role in terrorism, though.
In April 2008, al-Qaeda deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri issued two tapes in which he responded to questions for him posted on jihadi web forums. West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center collected 1,888 questions on the sites and found that 20 of them were on the subject of women and their relationship to jihad. Zawahiri’s response to the questions amounted to advising them to stay at home with the kids, provoking outrage among some female forum-goers.
Zawahiri’s wife, Umaymah Hasan Ahmed Muhammed Hasan, seemed a little more open to the prospect of women participating in violent jihad in a letter to Muslim women published online in December 2009.
In a translation of the letter published by the jihadi media outlet Dar al Murabiteen, Umaymah claims that women’s “basic role in which we hope Allah to accept from us, is to protect the Mujahideen in their children and houses and secret, and to help them by giving good upbringing to their children.”
Nonetheless, she approvingly takes note of suicide operations carried out by women in Iraq, Israel and Chechnya, praising how they “vexed the enemy and caused them a great defeat.”