Mural dedicated to the IRA, Northern Ireland

Females in the IRA explodes idea of women as pawns in terrorism


Mural dedicated to the IRA, Northern Ireland

Read more: Dissident IRA bomb hidden in child’s bicycle in Belfast

In a new book "Bombshell: The Many Faces of Female Terrorists,” academic Mia Bloom disproves the idea that women involved in terrorism are pawns of male-dominated terrorist groups. The Penn State researcher says they are motivated by more complicated and diverse reasons, including those who acted with the IRA.

Bloom said, "It's true that some women are coerced, but the truth is that motivations vary from terrorist group to terrorist group.  For example, of the women in the provincial Irish Republican Army group that I talked to, not one was coerced; they were enthusiastic about their roles."

Bloom, who is a fellow at the International Center for the Study of Terrorism, looks at the female participation in the world's most recognized terrorist groups in her book. She explains that there are five reasons why females get involved in terrorism:  revenge, redemption, relationship, respect and rape.

She writes, "Relationship, the third R, is particularly crucial in understanding how women are mobilized…The best single predictor that a woman will engage in terrorist violence is her relationship with a known insurgent or jihadist."

Leaders of terrorist groups encourage female participation in their organizations for several reasons. Women are more effective at attracting media attention. They are also held up as an example to goad males into joining with or increasing their participation in terrorist movements.

"Groups have found it very effective to use women as propaganda tools, especially to appeal to men," Bloom explained. "The message is if you don't step up, you're not a man."

Bloom also said that women's participation in terrorism changes from culture to culture and group to group. In some terrorism groups the women assume a leadership role. For example, Ah-lam al-Tamimi, a member of Hamas, planned one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the history of Israel.

Bloom said, "Some terrorist groups go as far as addressing the roles for females in their founding documents."

However, in some other terrorist groups women do hold a lower status and are used as cannon fodder.

"The truly deplorable thing about female suicide bombing is that in many cases women are usually selected to attack civilian targets, or 'soft targets,' " said Bloom. "So women are being used to kill other women and children."

Her book will be available this fall in the U.S.

Read more: Dissident IRA bomb hidden in child’s bicycle in Belfast


Log in with your social accounts:

Or, log in with your IrishCentral account:

Forgot your password ?

Don't have an account yet? Register now !

Join IrishCentral with your social accounts:

Already have an account ?

For Newsletter Subscribers – Draw for 1 Prize on December 31st.

Prize: Your Piece of Ireland – a Square of Land in the heart of the Glens of Antrim, Ireland

More details here (or you can buy a little piece of Ireland directly): http://bit.ly/1zew9ox

Terms & Conditions

Or, sign up for an IrishCentral account below:

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

Make sure we gathered the correct information from you

By clicking above you are indicating that you have read & agree to our Terms and Privacy Policy.

You already have an account on IrishCentral! Please confirm you're the owner.

Our new policy requires our users to save a first and last name. Please update your account: