Reverse migration: Western European Muslim women’s flights to ISIL territory

Doctoral thesis OPEN
DeSitter, Elizabeth A. (2015)
  • Publisher: Monterey, California: Naval Postgraduate School
  • Subject: Western European | Muslim women | Islamic Extremism | Islamic State | ISIL | migration

Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited Since early 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has increasingly recruited Western Muslim men and women to its radical ideology. This thesis examines why Western European Muslim women—specifically from France and Great Britain—are voluntarily migrating to ISIL territory to support Islamic extremism. It evaluates women’s involvement in previous terrorist movements and proposes five potential motivations for migration: grievances toward Western society, ideology, relationships/belonging, identity assertion, and targeted recruitment. Through the analysis of eleven case studies and numerous social media accounts, this thesis demonstrates that European Muslim women choose life in ISIL territory for a variety of reasons. It also illustrates, however, that ISIL’s social media and propaganda campaigns are the strongest forces pushing women toward radicalization and migration. Finally, this paper concludes with recommendations to counter ISIL’s online recruitment success in the West. Captain, United States Army
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