A look at the women fighting for ISIS

Women are joining the 'al-Khansaa Brigade'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – The terrorists of ‘ISIS,’ dressed in black, armed with Kalashnikovs, and now, some have observed them wearing hijabs and burkas. Human rights observers and analysts say women have joined the ranks of ISIS.

We’re told there’s at least one group of women called the ‘al-Khansaa Brigade,’ which operates in the ISIS stronghold of Raqqa, in Syria.

“If your daughter will serve in al-Khansaa Brigades, that’s something will protect you, will protect your family.” Louay Almokdad is a former spokesman for the free Syrian army, a rebel group which is a rival to ISIS. He says friends of his have had female relatives pushed into ISIS.

CNN could not independently verify his accounts. Observers from the U.N. and Amnesty International tell CNN that ISIS uses women primarily in a policing role; patrolling the streets, cracking down on other women who aren’t wearing conservative-enough clothing.

According to reports, female ‘ISIS’ militants also help at checkpoints where their male comrades are not allowed to touch women coming through. “They are very useful, because they will be able to check any woman coming through, and be able to detect any sort of enemy combatant coming through the checkpoint.” Including men trying to sneak through checkpoints, dressed as women.

Almokdad says ‘ISIS’ women also go on house-raids. “They need these women to search inside the woman clothes, inside the bedrooms, and even they do body-check for the woman.”

A U.S. intelligence official tells CNN that ISIS has demonstrated a “diabolical flexibility” in pursuing its goals and is “open to using women tactically” to advance them. Does that include fighting on the front lines?

“Females do not fight for ISIS. There is no theological legitimization for a lady to be allowed to take up arms against men on a battlefield within ISIS’s very, very austere, extremist interpretation of Islam.”

Why would a woman join this brutal terrorist group? Experts, who follow the region, say personal security and small salaries are factors; “Particularly when the alternative is to be displaced to turkey, or elsewhere, and have to work as a prostitute to get money for your family. Women join because they have relatives in the movement; they have networks within their communities who are part of that movement. Women join because they’ve been raped.”

“There seems to be little if any ‘empowerment’ of women in all of this…despite the lure of security, money and responsibility, one activist says ‘ISIS’ created these female brigades “to terrorize women.”

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