WASHINGTON (CNN) – ISIS is known for using western culture in its recruiting tactics with strong social media campaigns that appeal to youth but a Disney movie?!
The Disney film “Mulan” is based on a Chinese legend of a warrior woman. A dutiful daughter cuts off her hair and pretends to be a man. She becomes a soldier to fight for her family’s honor. An inspiring example for many young women, including, it seems, female followers of ISIS.
“I wonder if I can pull a Mulan and enter the battlefield; these are the hopes and desires being expressed. This is a lens into their thoughts,” said Erin Marie Saltman, Inst. Strategic Dialogue.
Erin Marie Saltman is tracking dozens of ISIS women online. This tweet she says is a perfect example of the contradiction these women pose: “Raised on Disney. Aspiring to Jihad.”
“They are given this romantic that they are travelling to this foreign territory by themselves. It’s quite liberating for them and they will be paired with a jihadist soldier. And when you look at the men with guns and windswept hair and the desert in the background, this is actually empowering. But also, women are inciting violence on their twitter accounts and blogs. They’re encouraging people, to the point of saying: If you can’t travel Islamic State territory, I encourage you to carry out the war at home. And that’s inciting violence abroad,” said Saltman.
The role of ISIS women may be evolving, no longer just Jihadi brides, but also recruiters and facilitators, possibly even spies.
“The Islamic State has been adamant about not letting women have battlefield roles. So, this is really a unique case,” said Veryan Khan, TRAC.
Khan has been following the digital footsteps of a Canadian woman who travelled to Syria and quickly stationed herself along ISIS frontlines. Because her location finder was still switched on her smart phone, TRAC was able to trace her steps from Aleppo to Kobani, Raqqa and Mosul. Highly unusual travel that Khan believes indicates an important female role for an ISIS recruit.
It appears she may have been acting as reconnaissance for surveillance of Islamic State’s enemies. She was in all known Islamic State enmy territory even though we know she’s an Islamic State supporter. So, perhaps she’s been sent as a spy,” said Khan.
The female recruits of ISIS are often teenagers, young women, like these 15 and 16 year old British school girls who police think crossed into Syria just days ago. Both TRAC and the institute of strategic dialogue say this is the target demographic for ISIS, young and impressionable, sold on dreams of Disney and Jihad. The reality is anything but a fairytale.
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