BEN WINSOR ---- Business Insider
Kurdish forces and the US-backed coalition aren't the only forces with female soldiers fighting in Syria and Iraq. The militant group The Islamic State (ISIS) is recruiting women, too.
Since February, ISIS has controlled at least two all-female battalions, recruiting single women between 18 and 25 and paying a monthly salary of roughly $150.
Al Arabiya reports the groups were initially formed to “expose male activists who disguise in women’s clothing to avoid detention when stopping at the ISIS checkpoints.”
The battalions are also used to enforce ISIS's strict laws of individual conduct on women — sometimes violently. Abu Ahmad, an ISIS official in Syria, told Syria Deeply, "We have established the brigade to raise awareness of our religion among women, and to punish women who do not abide by the law."
Thomas Hegghammer, an expert on violent Islamism, told The Atlantic that it appeared the female battalions were restricted to the ISIS-controlled Syrian city of Raqqa.
"There is a process of female emancipation taking place in the jihadi movement, albeit a very limited and morbid one," Hegghammer said. "Many of them are eager to portray themselves as strong women and often make fun of the Western stereotype of ‘the oppressed Muslim woman.'"
But the battalions aren't evidence that ISIS is embracing female empowerment. It's the just the opposite.