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28.05.2024

Tunisian Mother Tries to Keep Daughters From Joining ISIS

The struggles of an Arab mother whose daughters have "gone off the derech" and joined radical Islam.

Tunisian Mother Tries to Keep Daughters From Joining ISIS

Oulfa Hamrounni is struggling to bring her teenage daughters back to Tunisia while trying to prevent two others from joining them.

“ In an interview with the New York times she said,"I am afraid for my younger daughters. They still have the same ideology of my older daughters.”

The younger ones are 11 and 13.

Hundreds of female Islamist militants, have journeyed to the battlegrounds of Syria and Iraq to begin new lives under the Islamic State.Now, there are signs that they are being encouraged to travel to Libya as well, signifying a shift in the strategy of the terrorist network in the face of threats against it.

The vast majority of the women joining ISIS do so to marry fighters and bear their children in order to help the group build a state in Libya. The creation of families deepens the Islamic State’s reach and ideology in its territory, making it more difficult for Western and regional governments to eradicate them.

“Official propaganda showcases Libya as the new frontier of the self-proclaimed caliphate,” said Melanie Smith, a researcher with the London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which focuses on violent extremism. “Hence the encouragement of foreign females signifies a need to consolidate the land they have managed to acquire.”

Rahma, 17, and her 18 year-old sister, Ghofranare both widows of ISIS militants who were killed in battle. Both sisters are now in the custody of an anti-Islamic State militia in Tripoli, the Libyan capital.

They used to be regular teenagers, but their family life was troubled. Their father struggled to find work and often came home drunk. In 2011, the couple divorced, and he disappeared.

By then, Tunisia was in the midst of its Arab Spring revolution. Religious extremists made inroads with youths frustrated by the lack of jobs and opportunities. One group set up an Islamic education camp across the street from Hamrounni’s home.

From a loudspeaker, the imam implored young people to give up their Western influences. First Ghofran joined the camp, then Rahma.

“I was happy that my daughters were respecting Islam,” Hamrounni recalled.

They began wearing the niqab — a black veil with an opening for the eyes. They stopped watching television, they avoided shaking hands with males and they urged their two younger sisters to leave school because it was taught by “nonbelievers.”
More than 700 Tunisian women have joined the Islamic State and other militant groups in Syria and Iraq, according to the nation’s Ministry of Women. Researchers have observed their recruitment efforts on social media. They are specifically trying to lure female militants to Libya.

By 2014, Rahma and Ghofran were participating in ceremonies celebrating the martyrdom of jihadists killed in Syria. They learned about the armed groups fighting in Syria through social media and websites. The girls put up black Islamic State flags in their bedrooms.

“By then, I had lost control of my daughters,” Hamrounni said.
The girls bought a toy Kalashnikov rifle and showed their younger sisters how to operate it. They showed them videos of how Islamic State training children to use weapons.

“We used to watch how they taught children to become snipers,” said 11-year-old Taysin.
“They always told me to join ISIS and go into the field and fight,” said 13-year-old Aya.

Hamrounni no longer allows her younger daughters access to Facebook, and she doesn't let them speak with their older sisters on the phone.

“I am not with the Islamic State now,” said Taysin, but she still feels some sympathy for the militants’ ideology.

“The nonbelievers, they have to be killed,” Taysin said. “The nonbelievers are trying to beat Islam. We have to fight them.”

קישורים:
Two of her daughters joined ISIS. Now she’s trying to save her two younger girls.
isis Arab Tunisia radical Islam raising teens

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