Bombshell: Women and Terrorism

Mia Bloom. Univ. of Pennsylvania, $29.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8122-4390-1
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Bloom (Dying to Kill) explores how and why women become terrorists and suicide bombers in this engrossing, deeply researched account. She notes that women have participated in radical and revolutionary struggles of the past—anticolonial movements in the Third World, Marxist organizations in Europe, nationalist struggles in the Middle East—and are now “plotters, propagandists, and pawns” in terrorist organizations throughout the world. She introduces Siobhan, a former member of the Irish Republican Army, jailed for attempted bombing; Ahlam-at-Tamimi of Hamas, who has become a resistance hero while serving a life sentence in an Israeli prison; and in a particularly chilling portrait, Malika el Aroud of al-Qaeda, who lives in Europe and is so adept at posting messages to “true believers” on the Internet, she lures men from all over the world into becoming suicide bombers in Iraq and Afghanistan. Covering groups from the Black Widow Bombers of Chechnya to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, who are skilled female fighters who take part in every level of combat alongside the men, Bloom concludes that women are motivated to join terrorist groups by a desire for “revenge, redemption, [or] respect,” but their single biggest motivator is their relationship, either personal or from a distance, with a known insurgent or jihadi. Providing an overview of the history that led to the conflicts in each of the regions she studies, this balanced, readable account offers invaluable insights into a hidden and disturbing world. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/29/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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