Al Qaeda now recruiting, deploying female militants across Europe

Lahore, Aug. 4: European intelligence chiefs have reportedly decided to explore and understand a new strategy by al-Qaeda to recruit and deploy female militants within the European Union.

The Daily Times quoted a London Observer report as saying that these female recruits were being used for a wide range of activities, including running logistics and propaganda activities to undertaking suicide bombing missions.

A diplomatic official connected with the investigation said: “This phenomenon has not been really taken into account yet and, we need to explore and understand it. It is a new strategy by Al Qaeda.”

The moves follow a spate of attacks in the Middle East conducted by female bombers and rising concerns among European security services about the increased radicalisation of female militants. The officials specifically cite the United Kingdom and North Africa as problem areas.

Though the only known European female suicide bomber was Muriel Degauque, a 38-year-old convert from Belgium who killed herself in Iraq in 2005, European security officials said that their services were monitoring dozens of women involved in logistics or propaganda. There are also fears of female bombers being sent from overseas, particularly North Africa.

“This is now of a much greater scale than we have ever seen before. The problem is differentiating who is just fundraising or running websites, who is recruiting and who is a potential bomber,” said one French intelligence specialist.

Gilles de Kerchove, a European counter-terrorism co-ordinator, has asked British, French, Spanish, German and other European security services to pool their intelligence through Brussels’ strategic analysis unit, the Joint Situation Centre, to produce a report by the autumn.

“The issue is a very high priority,” one EU official said.

In Iraq, United States intelligence officers say that militants are marrying women then allowing them to be raped in the knowledge that the subsequent dishonour and rejection will make them easier to groom as bombers. The officers have also noted a strong incidence of women who have had relatives, civilians or militants, killed in the fighting turning to violence.

According to the source, militants “seek to recruit women with a brother, father or son already with the extremist groups”. (ANI)

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