ISIS Opens A Jihadi Finishing School For Women

Oct 17, 2014 at 2:05 PM ET

The old adage “behind every great man stands a great woman” apparently holds true, even for members of the Islamic State.

The ruthless extremist group commonly referred to as ISIS has announced the establishment of a special institute designed to “prepare sisters for the battlefields for jihad,” according to its mission statement, and to support ISIS fighters in their efforts. Called “al-Zawra,” the jihadi-style finishing school isn’t for just any women, but for those who are “interested in explosive belt and suicide bombing more than a white dress or a castle or clothing or furniture.” Because if you’re going to join the jihad, then you better be more absorbed in martyrdom than entertaining the fantasies of Disney princesses. 

ISIS is also using the institute as a recruitment tool to lure impressionable, misguided young girls to the group’s strongholds in Iraq and Syria. The first post in a forum dedicated to the group tells the story of Nusaybah bint Ka’ab, a Muslim woman who joined her husband and sons in the Battle of Uhud in the year 625, after cowardly soldiers began retreating. Bearing a shield and sword, she sustained 12 wounds, but still managed to chop off the leg of the man who hurt her son. Ka’ab, it appears, is being positioned as the ISIS version of Rosie the Riveter.

To prepare women for their roles as mujahedeen, al-Zawra offers classes in five areas, including domestic work such as sewing and cooking, medical first aid, Islam and Sharia law, weaponry, and in a surprisingly progressive twist, training in social media and computer programs for editing and design. The institute’s website also offers tips for women who want to train for jihad on their own:

  • Get fit: “Take a half hour every day to go jogging. Keep adding distance every day in order not to be a burden on your jihadi brothers.”  (They also recommend that women watch YouTube videos on how to use various weapons.)
  • Learn first aid: “Watch videos of first aid operations on the Internet and try to apply them on your young sister.”
  • Learn how to sew: “You are going to sew the clothes of Allah’s soldiers. Go to your mother and ask her to teach you about the sewing machine.”
  • Learn how to cook: “Open a Word document and write down quick recipes for cooking. Open the Internet and copy recipes from it. You are going to cook for Allah’s soldiers.”

ISIS has also opened new Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts for al-Zawra, and some women already appear to be interested in joining. One woman tweeted her response, complete with heart emoticons: 

“I have long been thinking about how to prepare myself and what will be the way but today I saw this from al-Zawra, institute dedicated for female supporters.”