Black widows

AuthorStella Filipovi? ?ango
PositionSarajevo University for Criminalistics, Criminology and Security
Vol. 3 No. 3
January, 2018
Balkan Journal of Interdisciplinary Research
IIPCCL Publishing, Graz-Austria
ISSN 2410-759X
Acces online at
Black widows
Stella Filipović Šango
Sarajevo University for Criminalistics, Criminology and Security
Several leading researchers identied some important factors explaining why terrorist groups
use women to conduct suicide aacks and perform critical operations as part of their overall
strategy. This can include tactical advantages: increased number of operatives, increased
media aention and psychological impact.
The incident in the Dubrovka theater in Moscow in 2002, where forty-one Chechen terrorists,
including 19 women, held about 800 people for three days as hostages until Russian forces
entered the building, moved the Black Widows into the spotlight as terrorists with the most
suicide aacks in Russia.
Keywords: terrorism, security, female suicide bombers, Chechnya, Palestine, Black Widows.
The circumstances that bring women to commit suicide bombings are not simple
and easy to understand, and for many years now they have been a heavily debated
topic. The question of why women are ghting, or more importantly, turning to these
extreme forms of violence is interesting, especially when one considers the extremely
patriarchal nature of the societies these women come from. The appearance of a female
bomber is most intriguing, given that such women pose a challenge to conventional
Islamic terms of female inferiority and the Arab cultural demands to restrict women
to their homes.
Every case has its own distinctiveness but most analysts agree that women's
participation in suicide aacks show a radicalization of a certain conict. The main
question is why is it so? Why are we not surprised when a man commits remarkable
acts of violence, but when it comes to women, we are? Through dierent centuries
and cultures women are traditionally celebrated mainly because of their ability to
give and nurture life, and not for the ability to take it. Even today we see women as
the beer half of mankind. But female suicide bombers completely destroyed the
myth in which women are naturally prone to moderation, compromise and tolerance.
A small number of women took part in Jihad in the early years of Islam, but this
practice was later abandoned. However, some hadiths allow it, and the Sharia law
says that women can participate in Jihad when, for example, a Muslim state is under
aack. In recent years, women have voluntarily opted to take part in a number of
terrorist groups: from the Black Widows of Chechnya to the Kurdish rebels to the
martyrs of Hamas and Islamic State.
Leading researchers have identied the factors that explain why these groups use
women to commit suicide aacks. They can be tactical advantages: increased number
of operatives, media aention and psychological impact. The tactical advantages are
that women are usually less suspect. In 1991, Rajiv Gandhia, Indias former prime
minister was killed by Thenmuli Rajaratnam, a member of the Liberation Tigers of

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