The frequency at which Al-Shabaab is deploying women in their attack missions has caught the attention of regional security agencies. The militant group is recruiting young well- educated women, granting them high profile positions in the insurgency movement.
According to a confidential source, the jihadi organisation is increasingly giving the young women prominent roles in carrying out intelligence operations and attacks, as they are less likely to attract attention with a significant number of Kenyan women currently thought to be undergoing training in Somalia.
In the past, the role of women recruited into Al-Shabaab was primarily thought that they were serving as Jihadi brides meant to cook and clean in the militants’ camps. But as it is right now they are assuming greater roles in active combat, intelligence gathering, planning, coordination, and execution of attacks, according to the intelligence report. The alarmingly high number of women into their rank and file is mainly because women are less likely to raise suspicions when undertaking terror activities
“We are aware that Al-Shabaab is changing tack and increasingly using women as facilitators and spies, not just brides for the fighters. More women are being trained to take up more senior roles that were reserved for men,” said Inspector General (IG) of Police Hillary Mutyambai noting that security agencies were on high alert.
He said police had been properly briefed on the matter but urged private security guards manning various facilities to ensure they do thorough scrutiny. Security report highlighted that some of the women are to be deployed to befriend government officials and identify loopholes in security and report to Al-Shabaab for the planning of the attacks.
First-ever suicide bomb attack carried out a female suicide bomber was on June 2011 when Somalia’s interior minister Abdishakur Sheikh Hassan was killed by his teenage niece in a suicide bomb attack in his house.
In September 2016 three women casually strolled into Mombasa Central Police Station donned in buibui’s and proceeded to occurrence book desk as if to report an incident. One of the women tried to attack the officers with a dagger while the two others attempted to burn the station down with petrol bombs but were shot dead in the altercation.
According to security analyst George Musamali, among the things that drive women to join Islamists groups is the “romantic notion of the lives of extremists, honour and accolades as well as the idea of being a mujahidin’s spouse, widow or mother.
While women have fallen victims of international jihadism in the name of ‘AlShababes,’ the few that have managed to escape paint a grim picture of suffering, sexual abuse and violence that the women suffer in the hands of the Jihadis.