A comparison of European female jihadists

Tom Smith*, Olivia Joan Caskey

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter examines and compares various cases of female involvement with jihadi terrorism across Europe, dissecting the research on their radicalisation, participation, and, crucially, the conflicting legal, political, and media reports on their cases. Cases from Sweden, France, Italy and the UK are examined demonstrating a variety of behaviours. In comparison to male jihadists, the complex roles of female jihadists are portrayed as love-struck ‘jihadi brides’, that departed from various parts of Europe - often via Turkey - for Syria and Iraq pledging various degrees of allegiance with ISIS. Media coverage of these cases grips public attention and, as a result, drives political action. However, media coverage driving political action raises questions regarding how much is known about female participation in jihadism across Europe. The cases examined here highlight the violent variety of female jihadism across the continent and some of the commonalities in their radicalisation including the use of male personas online to recruit others and establish an identity from which they can exercise their agency.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDirections in International Terrorism
Subtitle of host publicationTheories, Trends and Trajectories
EditorsHussein Solomon
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9789811633805
ISBN (Print)9789811633799
Publication statusPublished - 19 Sept 2021


  • Terrorism
  • Jihad
  • Radicalisation
  • Female
  • Recruitment
  • Propaganda


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