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Issued: September 2014
Expiry: September 2015

Area of concern: National

INTELLIGENCE BRIEF:
Intelligence Operations and Analysis Division
Security Intelligence Section

Female Foreign Fighters & ISIS


Executive Summary

The militant group that has declared itself the Islamic State is actively recruiting young females
predominately from western countries as fighters. The exact number of females recruited can only be
estimated, but it is thought to be in the hundreds. (U)
ISIS started recruiting females in late January to start an all-female battalion in Syria. The battalion is
known by two names: al-Khansaa and Urnm Rayyan (U)
Suspect cases of travel for the intention of joining the brigades have been reported in various
countries. There has been four high profile cases from the US since Septcmbcr.(U)
Recruits are generally aged 18-25. However, cases involving females as young as 15 have been
reported. Once recruited, females often enter into an arranged marriage to fighter. (U)
Some of the recruited females are using social media to promote, encourage and recruit others. (U)
Females are becoming more active ill front line roles as well as used to breed the next generation of
fighters.

The purpose of this brief is to provide front line staff with information on the militant group ISIS and membership risk indicators to consider when
examining Canadian citizens, permanent residents and foreign nationals. EM Priority: Inadmissibility and Terrorism

Background
1.

The militant group that has declared itself the Islamic State is also referred to as the Islamic State in Iraq and Al Sham

(ISIS) and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Many commentators and members of the Muslim community
have re/ected the use of the name Islamic State in order to deny the group the legitimacy the title saggests. (U)
2.

The group officially declared in June 2014 that it had set up an Islamic Slate across parts of northern Iraq and Syria. The
rapid expansion of territory under the groups control caused a surge in interest in joining ISIS. (U)

3.

In September of 2013 the London based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights estimated that there were 5,000 women
fighting in Syria. They calculated that to be approximately one in five in the Kurdish Peoples Protection Units to be
female. Largely they are of Syrian decent. (U)

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4.

Ii is believed that in January 2014 ISIS started recruiting single women to form a battalion. The battalion goes by two
different names; the a! Khansaa and Umm Rayyan, named after its leader. Initially members were wives, daughters and
sisters of foreign fighters that had joined ISIS. Later they expanded to local women whose families were pressured or
offered money for the women. (U)

5.

ISIS official Abu Ahmad in Raqqa has called the al-Khansaa Brigade ISiS all female moral police. Ahmad states We
have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women and to punish women who do not abide by
the law. Ahmad also stated that jihad is not a male-only duty. Women must do their part as well.

6.

It was reported that on March 4 the battalion raided two girls schools in the province of al-Raqa where they arrested 10
girls between the ages of 15 17 and flogged them for violating the laws that ISIS had imposed. The female battalion
is being used to enforce ISIS imposed regulations that ISIS is calling laws ranging from showing the eyebrows from
underneath the veil to wearing a hair curler. (U)

7.

Females are being used at check points to expose males who disguise in womens clothing to avoid detention when
stopping at ISIS check points. Women recruited for these security roles must be unmarried, between the ages of 18 and
25, and are given a monthly wage for their assistance.(U)

8.

Female jihadists have traditionally had less impact on the front lines, but are not a new phenomemon. Female suicide
bombers in Russia are referred to as Black Widows, most recently Samantha Lawaithe (also referred to as the White
Widow) was considered one. The US military reported in 2008 that 18 women had been suicide bombers in Iraq.

9.

This trend will continue to grow as the role of a female in the al Khansaa and Umm Rayyan battalion is continually
romanticized, used as propaganda and emphasized as girl power on line on social media sites. Females such as 19 year
old Aqsa Mahrnood of Glasgow, Scotland has been posting encouraging messages such as: We are created to be
as much as the western society has warped your views on this with a hidden feminist mentality,
mothers and wives
She also wrote in June: Follow the example of your brothers from Wooiwhich [sic], Texas and Boston etc. Have no fear
as Allah swt [sic] is always with the Believers, referring to the killing of a British soldier outside his barracks in London
by Islamist extremists last year, the Fort Hood, Tex., mass shooting in 2009 and the Boston Marathon bombing,
respectively. She also encouraged those living abroad to carry outjihadist acts, telling followers, If you cannot make it
to the battlefield then bring the battlefield to yourself. Be sincere and be a Uihadist] wherever you may be. Mahmood
has also stated she wanted to behead Christians with a blunt knife.

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10. It is believed that Aqsa Mahmood has married an IS fighter, written a manifesto encouraging women to join the terrorists
in Syria and is head of the

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ii. While there are the traces that the female fighters are leaving on social media there is also evidcnce of recruiting
emerging on social media. There was one jihadist recently operating on twitter who was offering to broker marriages to
foreign fighters. This assists the females entering Syria and other Islamic countries by giving them direct access to a
male guardian in their husband, which allows them to move about with greater ease.
12. The female fighters are paid by ISIS and will receive a monthly salary of 25,000 Syrian liras, less than $200(currency?)
but ISIS emphasizes that they must only work for the organization. This usually goes back to their families or is paid to
their families if the family has given the female to ISIS.
13. Assisting in the fight is not the only expectation of the female battalion. According to an Egyptian analyst, women are
being treated like breeders to help create the next generation both through expanding the population through child birth
and education of children. The intention of ISIS is that the women will continue the ideology and teachings of al-Qacda,
in order for the organization to survive.
14.

15. September 22 it was reported that younger violent ISIS members were raping thousands of women in Iraq and Syria to
mass produce children to follow in their footsteps. The young members claim that they are answering to a higher calling
and have been ordered to have sex by a cleric in Saudi Arabia. The goal is to impregnate multiple women within
communities to become a fabric of the cities they control so their cause will live on forever in future generations.
16. U.N. officials have released statements that cited evidence of rape being used as weapons of war against women and
teenage boys and girls belonging to the Yazidi, Christian, Turkonien and Shabak communities in Iraq. The report states:
During its takeover of large parts of northern Iraq the IS captured many Yazidi villages, and reportedly took many

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Yazidi women to be sold and used as sex slaves. It has been reported that some of the females being held as sex slaves
are as young as 12.
17. US Intelligence officials, quoted in open-source media, have stated that ISIS has made millions from oil smuggling,
extortion, antiquities theft and human trafficking. All confirmed reports of trafficking involved members of local
minonty communities.
18. In the last two weeks (beginning of September 2014), as many as 3,000 thousand local women (including under age
females) have been kidnapped and forced into brothels run by a police force that is believed to be comprised of British
women, including Aqsa Mahmood of Glasgow, Scotland.
19. In August 2014, two U.N. officials issued a joint statement on the barbaric acts of sexual violence committed by ISIS
fighters ; We condemn, in the strongest terms, the explicit targeting of women and children and the barbaric acts the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has perpetrated on minorities in areas under its control, and we remind all armed
groups that acts of sexual violence are grave human rights violations that can be considered as war crimes and crimes
against humanity, said Nickolay Mladenov, special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Iraq, and Zainab
Hawa Bangura, special representative of the secretary-general on sexual violence in conflict.
20.

fenale with her Si.

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Terror Travel Risk Indicators:

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Females in the al-Khansaa Brigade members posing with their weapons

Contact: For more information, please contact the Security Intelligence Section by phone at

or by email at

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in the Government Security Policy and the CBSA Security Policies. If access is requested under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act,
no decision should be taken without prior consultation with the originator, as the information may be subject to exemptions. Requests for
additional use should be forwarded to the Security Intelligence Section at