British women and Islamist extremists have joined forces again, international media reported Monday - this time, to suppress women's rights in Islamic State (IS; formerly ISIS) territory in Syria.
Tens of female jihadists from the UK have joined IS's al-Khaansa Brigade which operates to punish women 'deviating' from strict moral and modesty codes in the IS headquarter city of Raqqah.
Of those, four women have been positively identified by academics at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization, at King’s College London, according to the Mirror. They are Aqsa Mahmood, 20, from Glasgow; Sixteen year-old twins Salma and Zahra Halane, from Manchester; and convert to Islam Sally Jones, 45, from Chatham, Kent.
ICSR researchers believe as many as sixty women with UK citizenship have joined the "modesty police" forces in Syria, mostly between ages 18-24.
Little is known about al-Khansaa, but researchers say they may be linked to the same British IS terrorists who likely killed American journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff.
“Al-Khanssaa is a sharia law police brigade," Melanie Smith, a research associate at ICSR, told the British Telegraph. "This is IS’s female law enforcement."
"We think it’s a mixture of British and French women but its social media accounts are run by the British and they are written in English," she added. “Given how small the community networks are - we know there are about 500 male British jihadis out there - it is quite likely these women move in the same circles as the British killer of Foley and Sotloff.”
The brigade is tasked with walking through the streets of Raqqa and breaking up 'inappropriate' gatherings between men and women and quashing any connection to Western culture.
At least one report, from the US-based Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, states that each woman receives just $120 per month for her services in the Brigades, and are forced to wear back robes.
The dress code, at least, has been corroborated by Twitter photos from alleged members of the modesty squad - and show women fully clad in dark robes and burqas.
Oddly enough, women in the brigades appear to enjoy a normal social life, and to blend jihadist and extreme ideals with stereotypically Western views on womanhood, according to Smith.
Smith, like others at ICSR, has based the data on small studies of about 25 women positively identified as al-Khansaa terrorists and British emigrants in Raqqa. At least one group of about four women, including Umm Farriss above, has their own social group in the brigades.
"They tweet pictures of suicide belts but then they also talk about food and clothes and going out and other gossip,” Smith stated. “They are doing normal girlie things like going shopping but set against a context of jihadi war. It’s bizarre.”
The pledge rate from Britain to IS to participate in these brigades is skyrocketing, researchers add. Women are flocking to IS not only to join the Islamist cause, but to find marriage as well.
Women have gained greater prominence in media coverage of IS - both their oppression and their participation in the brutal terror regime. Last month, another British jihadist, 22 year-old London native Khadijah Dare, made headlines after tweeting for 'equal rights' to kill terrorists for IS.
Women's decision to leave Western culture for IS has made headlines for the oddity of the choice, as well, as international media has widely covered the terror group's brutality to women under its reign, where women have largely been ordered to cover up completely and stay at home, and forcible rape in the early days of IS was - and may still be - a common occurrence.