As al-Qaeda recruits more women for suicide bombings, the wife of a prominent operative in the terrorist organization says regrets joining the group as she lives alone in Yemen, according to press reports Wednesday.
The wife of Saeed al-Shehri’s, al-Qaeda’s second-in-command in the Arabian Peninsula, lives alone in a one-bedroom shelter away from her husband since they fled fromSaudi Arabia to Yemen where he is currently hiding from authorities, the London-based al-Hayat reported Wednesday.
Shehri, a Saudi former inmate of Guantanamo prison, is number 63 on Saudi’s list of most wanted 85 terrorists.
Sources claim that Shehri’s wife called her family and complained about the deplorable conditions in which she islives in her shelter in Yemen.
In the phone call, she expressed regret for joining al-Qaeda and for taking her children to live with her husband and other members of the organization.
Her latest statements showed a significant change of heart as she had earlier written two articles in Sada al-Malahim magazine, al-Qaeda’s mouthpiece in Yemen, where she expressed being content with her decision to join the group.
Women generally enjoy a kind of amnesty in society that would enable them to take part in terrorist activities without being noticed
Bayyinah Melhem, a researcher at the Prince Naif Chair for Intellectual Security
Al-Qaeda has been recruiting women since May 12, 2003, said Bayyinah Melhem, a researcher at the Prince Naif Chair for Intellectual Security.
“Women generally enjoy a kind of amnesty in society that would enable them to take part in terrorist activities without being noticed,” she told the paper.
Melhem explained that what makes this possible is that women do not undergo the same kind of search and scrutiny men are subjected to.
“Terrorists take advantage of the way men and women are treated differently in our society.”
Terrorists take advantage of the way men and women are treated differently in our society
Not worthy of martydom
Despite the fact that women are now recruited in al-Qaeda, Melhem emphasized that they are still looked upon as inferior to men.
“They think that women do not deserve the honor of martyrdom and that is why they are not given suicide attack assignments.”
Women are mainly recruited to perform logistical duties, said Dr. Ali Khushaiban, an expert on Islamist groups.
“They play a major role in collecting donations and convincing mothers and wives into encouraging their sons and husbands to join the holy war,” Khushaiban told the paper.
They think that women do not deserve the honor of martyrdom and that is why they are not given suicide attack assignments
What is worrisome, Khushaiban added, is that al-Qaeda used to recruit only women related to male members of the organization, whereas now they target all women.
“They take advantage of women’s financial and personal struggles to recruit them. Targeting women from outside the group means a much larger number of them will join.”
However, Khushaiban added, women from the group are still important for its leaders. Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan encourages its members to bring along their families and married members are given more money than single ones.
“Wives in al-Qaeda camps are forced to obey their husbands and this makes it easier for them to recruit them to duties related to their terrorist operations.”
Husbands, Khushaiban explained, use religion to dominate their wives in two ways: first, they are told that obeying their husbands is part of obeying God and that if they don’t they will end up in hell and second, they told that their husbands are involved in a holy war against the enemies of Islam.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid).
They take advantage of women’s financial and personal struggles to recruit them
Dr. Ali Khushaiban, an expert on Islamist groups