The BBC Television Drama Sensationalizes the Muslim Female Terrorist

The new BBC television drama called "The Bodyguard" sensationalizes the Muslim female terrorist. The hit-drama that drew in millions of viewers opens with a nervous, scared and seemingly innocent female bomber--yes, she wears a suicide belt with a trigger in her hand--on a busy train. Anjli Mohindra played Nadai in the drama--the finale which was watched by 11 million people. (Image below) You … [Read more...]

Perspectives on Terrorism Book Review of Invisible Martyrs

Book reviews matter and I've been honored to receive the following reviews of my new book, Invisible Martyrs, from other scholars and kind-hearted readers. I'm honored to have this review from Joshua Sinai published in the "Counterterrorism Bookshelf" section of the Perspectives on Terrorism journal, Volume 12, Issue 5.  Farhana Qazi, Invisible Martyrs: Inside the Secret World of Female … [Read more...]

Today Islam Is Still Misunderstood, Misappropriated and Misinterpreted. Why Is This True?

Today, Islam is still misunderstood, misappropriated and misinterpreted. Why is this true? Recently, I was asked to give a talk to US government officials and someone commented on a question I presented in my talk: Is Islam a violent religion? (Obviously, the answer is no.). The official in the audience stated that there is a sizable group of Americans who do believe that Islam is violent, … [Read more...]

Invisible Martyrs With Farhana Qazi, a Conversation On Violent Extremism And Islam

Join Farhana Qazi for a conversation on violent extremism and Islam, the theme of her new book Invisible Martyrs at the International Spy Museum on September 27, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Hot Topic Series Why would a girl from Denver join ISIS, an extremist movement known for its mistreatment of women? Why would an Iraqi girl strap on a suicide vest? What does Islam say about violence? These … [Read more...]

Violent Recruitment Online For Muslim Girls Continues

At speaking events, I’m often asked how one connects with religious extremists online and how violent recruitment takes place for Muslim girls. It’s simple. A girl begins by conducting a simple search for propaganda literature such as a film on YouTube. She clicks on the site and hits the “Like” button. Or perhaps she finds comments posted on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites that … [Read more...]

One Mother Tells A Story About Her Son Joining ISIS

I received a personal note from England to share this harrowing story of a mother whose son joined ISIS from England. At first, I was startled to watch the documentary and learn that the mother, a Muslim convert, was anything but ignorant about the faith or her profession. She converted to Islam at a young age and raised her children to be respectful and loving. She says they are a tight-knit … [Read more...]

Islam Is Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Part Four

As I learned more about my faith, I began to look deeply at the profiles of violent extremists. The oft-repeated question of ‘why Muslims kill' forced me to look beyond the push and pull drivers of violent extremism.I had to humanize the boys and girls—who would become adult terrorists—to respond to the ‘why.’At work, I continued to remind other analysts and operators that most Muslims are not … [Read more...]

Undocumented Children Are Prime Terrorist Recruits

Earlier this year, I spent some time with experts working in Lebanon who track ISIS recruitment of children. Given the sensitivity of their work, their names are not mentioned in this brief report, but their insights are worth sharing. Given a variety of factors, multiple sources believe that ISIS recruiting has steadily increased in Beirut. ISIS’s recruiting strategy in Lebanon leverages a … [Read more...]

Looking Back: The Orlando Shooter Defiled Islam

Earlier this summer, on June 12th, a man stormed into the Pulse night club in Orlando, Florida and killed 50 people and wounded 53 others. The killer was identified as Afghan American Omar Mir Seddique Mateen and his target was the LGBT community. That the horrific incident happened during Islam's holy month of Ramadan, when thousands of American Muslims were fasting from dawn to sunset as they … [Read more...]

Why Do Extremists Kill During Ramadan?

It astonishes me that religious extremists choose to kill during one of Islam's holy months, Ramadan. As a young counter-terrorism analyst, I have been asked every Ramadan to explain why religious-based violence occurs and increases during the sacred month of fasting. According to devout Muslims, there is no justification for fighting during any one of the four sacred months ordained for worship. … [Read more...]

How To Stop Girls From Joining the Islamic State (ISIS)

It’s not that simple. A lesson on the true principles of Islam can help counter some vulnerable girls /women, but it’s not enough. Girls need more than a lecture on Islam. They need love, support, family, and confidence-building measures. As one Muslim mother told me, "We need to empower our daughters.”I have been doing this for a very long time. I began my career in The Counter-Terrorism Center … [Read more...]

Reclaiming the Right to Islam

Who represents Muslims in America? In 2010, I published an op-ed in The Washington Post to look at the question of faith. The truth is that no one represents American Muslims.We are too diverse, different, and determined to practice faith from our own unique personal and cultural lens.The fact is that Muslims in America are too decentralized. And that is a blessing, not a curse. After all, as I … [Read more...]

The Final Analysis: Why Extremist Women Write

Writing from behind-the-screens, female propagandists are viewed by their followers as credible messengers, speaking out in volumes about life, death, marriage, martyrdom, and more. For the girls and women of ISIS, emerging literature addresses these how-to topics:how to fit in when you come to Raqqa, the ISIS-controlled city in Syria;how to behave with other women;how to act with your new … [Read more...]

Tracing the Literature of Extremist Women: Part III

With the approval and praise of their men, extremist women glorify violent jihad with words, while guarding their gender. Behind a computer screen, women can conceal their identities from everyone else, while reaching the mainstream media and the general public.As anonymous actors, using fake identities, these women may believe they are liberated to write, so long as they remain undetected, … [Read more...]

Tracing the Literature of Extremist Women: Part II

For decades, women have been crafting messages of violence to reach a wider audience. Before social media, extremist women published articles in magazines, newsletters, and pamphlets distributed widely to Muslim-majority communities to persuade, push and urge other men and women to join violent extremism. Today, new social media has made extremist messaging that much easier for these women (and … [Read more...]

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