Several young Western women have fled their homes to join an all-female morality police force created by the Islamic State militant group, or IS.
Mostly in their late teens or early twenties, these young women are tasked with reprimanding those who fail to adhere to the militant group’s strict rules.
IS formed two female brigades in its territories earlier this year and tasked one group to enforce its dress and morality code on other women; while the other exposes men from the opposition disguised in traditional female clothing trying to avoid detection at IS checkpoints.
An IS official in Raqqa reportedly said “We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law.
Though they are not involved in combat operations, the women use social media websites like Twitter, Tumblr and the popular smartphone messenger app Kik as a platform to communicate IS’s propaganda to the outside world, New York Magazine reports.
Online, the women post verses from the Muslim holy book, the Quran and radical sermons and updates on IS’ movements in the form of hashtags and emoji. One of the top female propagandists for the group is Umm Ubaydah, who uses the Twitter handle @al_Khanssaa where she offers travel advice on how to avoid detection when joining the terrorist group, what to pack and what to expect.
According to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium, the women are paid 25,000 Syrian Lira, roughly $160 a month and are required to be single and aged between 18 and 25 to join the brigade.
As many as 60 British women are believed to have joined the brigades that operate in the Syrian city of Raqqa. The number of American women fighting alongside the militant group remains unknown.
Western countries like Australia have also witnessed a rise in the number of radicalized young European and American citizens leaving their countries to join the extremist group in the troubled country.