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Female Terrorist Motivations

Terrorist Culture: Not for everyone. But for some, including myself, the study terrorism as an act of communication, is interesting.  Terrorists will bomb certain venues to get their point across in a violent way. That’s right, the act of killing and endangering hundreds of thousands of people, in most terrorist cultures, is believed to aid in the gain of group power or attention. Another spicy interest of mine is to study female terrorists, specifically those of Islamic culture. To me, a female terrorist is like a spy wearing all black, is a person who is not trustworthy as they are seeking revenge.

As Islamic male martyrs are sometimes adored and made famous, thought to be rewarded in heaven with some 80,000 servants and 72 virgin women, I have wondered, what will the women receive? Are the women motivated to become terrorists through their religion? Do women who become terrorists gain equality among their male counterparts in daily life or is their life simply put on the line serving as an advantage through security checkpoints? This article is not about terrorist equality, or about communicating as terrorists, but it is about what motivates the women of Islamic culture to become terrorists. What does it bring them?

The modern-day female terrorist is not always talked about. They actually hold negligible in today’s media. But when they are talked about, it is a big deal. Essentially, female terrorists go against any sense of femininity when acting as an instrument of destruction. They send a message to multiple publics which says, ‘I can create life, and I can terminate life’. For purposes of strategy, female terrorists often wear disguises. They will dress in a Western fashion or as Israeli women and sometimes wear revealing clothes. But this compromises their Islamic religion. Many Islamic family members do not want their women to be disguised and dressed without modesty. Islamic family members will also not be paid as handsomely if their daughter becomes a terrorist or suicide bomber, which is another reason you don’t hear of many female terrorists.  So it can’t be the fame and flashing spotlights that motivate these young, strategic women, and it isn’t the small amount of money…

In all, some women are simply used in terrorist attacks while some do it for themselves. For the most part, women are motivated to become terrorists by non-political factors. It appears that women who choose to partake in acts of terrorism bring respect to their status and involvement in the terrorist group; they bring pride to their family and children, and have found eternal paradise for themselves. Many female terrorists want to seek revenge on those who killed family members or on their male counterparts which have oppressed them in the past. It is also sometimes easier to be a female terrorist, when infiltrating security checkpoints in airports. Females have that advantage over men; they are not as closely examined. Sometimes women fight as terrorists to bring awareness about causes or about poverty. But while some women can take pride in being a terrorist, some women just don’t have a choice. These women have been raped, have had their reputations tarnished, they are unable to bear children, or carry a range of hidden backgrounds. These women are then handed a suicide belt.

Whatever the motivation, these women are setting up the stage to kill. Their style of communication continues to bring more sadness and distress into the world while their message is haunting. While most female terrorists are unheard of or kept in secret, there are hundreds of female terrorists and terrorists groups to research.


One female terrorist group that is quite popular is known as The Black Widows. This isn’t me talking about the deathly-scary spiders that live in temperate regions of the world; I’m talking about the group of Chechen women who know how to kill. The Black Widows are also known as the ‘Shahdikas’ or the ‘Brides of Allah’. These women are highly trained by psychologists, other terrorists, and explosive experts. Most of the women seek revenge on the Russian government among others to fight for their husbands they have lost, while some of the group members are sold into the group, kidnapped, or tricked. Some of the women have just reached age sixteen. Don’t let their age or disguises fool you. A famous stunt performed by the Black Widows involved the deaths of one hundred and twenty-nine people in 2002 at the Moscow Theatre. The group has also been involved in over fifteen terrorist stunts in under fourteen years. I highly suggest you look these girls up.

And a question for you: If you were a spy, what would your spy-name be?

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Written by Rachael Bogdans

I am a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University where I studied Film/Video and Anthropology. My goal is to serve the world with communication of and about other cultures; the many different practices, alternatives to cooking and medicine, and to enlighten those who may have suffered from xenophobia.

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