Farhana Qazi draws on her background as a pioneering counterterrorism professional and a devout Muslim to offer an insider's view of what drives girls and women to join radical Islamic movements and how we can keep them from making this terrible choice.
The first Muslim woman to work for the US government's Counterterrorism Center, Qazi found herself fascinated, even obsessed, by the phenomenon of female extremists. Why, she wondered, would a girl from Denver join ISIS, a radical movement known for its mistreatment of women? Why would a teenage Iraqi girl strap on a suicide bomb and detonate it?
From Kashmir to Iraq to Afghanistan to Colorado to London, she discovered women of different backgrounds who all had their own reason for joining these movements. Some were confused, others had been taken advantage of, and some were just as radical and dedicated as their male counterparts. But in each case, Qazi found their choices were driven by a complex interaction of culture, context, and capability that was unique to each woman.
This book reframes their stories so readers can see these girls and women as they truly are: females exploited by men. Through hearing their voices and sharing their journeys Qazi gained powerful insights not only into what motivated these women but also into the most effective ways to combat terrorism—and about herself as well. “Through them,” Qazi writes, “I discovered intervention strategies that are slowly helping women hold on to faith as they struggle with versions of orthodox Islam polluted by extremist interpretations. And in the process, I discovered a gentle Islam and more about myself as a woman of faith.”