By Angelina Newsom:
It was reported last week that US commandos conducted a raid in Yemen and came into contact with women. These highly-trained women were fighting alongside al-Qaida and engaged the commandos. This is a stark reminder that we should never become complacent when it comes to those around us.
In the past, terrorist organizations have also used women to carry out suicide attacks. Women are the perfect scapegoat for terrorists because they are rarely looked upon with suspicion. Some may be under the impression that women associated with terrorist organizations are docile and obedient. While this may be true, those aren’t exactly good qualities to have for women in that position. Make no mistake—there are plenty of innocent bystanders surrounding terrorist organizations. There are also willing participants who subscribe to the dangerous ideology these terrorists use to recruit. There are even groupies for these terrorist groups who aspire to gain a high status among the terrorists. Young girls run away from home to join these men that they meet online in hopes that they’ll be rewarded with a husband and money.
One of the biggest advantages for terrorists using women to do their dirty work is that most people don’t expect it. The element of surprise can be deadly when we underestimate that women work among terrorist groups. It’s also a common belief that most western men struggle with a moral dilemma when it comes to fighting against women. That proved not to be the case with US commandos over the weekend.
Women are often used by terrorists to freely move about; some men have even been known to dress as women to avoid detection. It’s also easier for women to conceal items under their clothes, like weapons or explosive devices. Given the cultural sensitivity surrounding this particular demographic, it would be considered indecent for strange males to search them. This is a weakness that can easily be utilized to cause serious harm. There are a group of citizens who know this all too well—veterans of our armed forces.
While it’s easy to place women in an untouchable category and always assume innocence, the world doesn’t work like that. Remaining vigilant and aware of your surroundings is something every citizen should do. Falling into the mindset that women can’t be dangerous or can’t carry out violent attacks is to be in denial.
While the US commandos operate as the silent professionals, something we should consider back at home is that headlines don’t always paint the complete picture. In a world where things can go wrong in an instant, they very often do for our armed forces. They find themselves in difficult situations not everyone is familiar with or can relate to. This is why a headline to the effect of “US Service Members Killed Women in Yemen” is sensationalism at its finest. Understanding that women participate in terrorist organizations is important. They can be anywhere in the world.
Angelina Newsom is an OpsLens Contributor and U.S. Army Veteran. She served ten years in the military, including a deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. She studies Criminal Justice and is still active within the military community.
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