Multitasking Jihad: Sapping the system of needed funds for social services, while agitating online for the destruction of that system. To succeed would just be replacing one form of jizya with another. Malika El Aroud Update. “On the Internet, a Jihadist Uses Words as Her Weapon,” by Elaine Sciolino and Souad Mekhennet for the Korea Times, July 11:
BRUSSELS – Malika El Aroud, a 48-year-old Belgian, calls herself a female warrior for Al Qaeda.
In a movement that gives women little power, Ms. El Aroud has distinguished herself on the Internet.
Writing in French under the name “Oum Obeyda,” she has transformed herself into one of the most prominent Internet jihadists in Europe.
She insists that she does not disseminate instructions on bomb-making and has no intention of taking up arms herself. Rather, she bullies Muslim men to go and fight and rallies women to join the cause.
“It’s not my role to set off bombs – that’s ridiculous,” she said in a rare interview. “I have a weapon. It’s to write. It’s to speak out. That’s my jihad. You can do many things with words. Writing is also a bomb.”
Ms. El Aroud is well known to intelligence officials throughout Europe as simply “Malika” – an Islamist who is at the forefront of the movement by women to take a larger role in the male-dominated global jihad.
The authorities have noted an increase in suicide bombings carried out by women – the American military reports that 18 women have conducted suicide missions in Iraq so far this year, compared with 8 all of last year – but they say there is also a less violent yet potentially more insidious army of women serving as organizers, proselytizers, teachers, translators and fund-raisers.
“Malika is a role model, an icon who is bold enough to identify herself,” said Claude Moniquet, president of the Brussels- based European Strategic Intelligence and Security Center. “She plays a very important strategic role as a source of inspiration. She’s very clever – and extremely dangerous.”
Ms. El Aroud began her rise to prominence after her husband, two days before the attacks on September 11, 2001, carried out a bombing in Afghanistan that killed the anti-Taliban resistance leader Ahmed Shah Massoud at the behest of Osama bin Laden. Her husband was killed, and she took to the Internet as the widow of a martyr.
She remarried, and in 2007 she and her new husband were convicted in Switzerland for operating pro-Qaeda Web sites. Now, according to the Belgium authorities, she is a suspect in what the authorities say they believe is a plot to carry out attacks in Belgium.
“Ask your mothers, your wives to order your coffins,” she wrote to a supposed Western audience in March about wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. To her followers she added: “Victory is appearing on the horizon, my brothers and sisters. Let’s intensify our prayers.”
The rise of women comes against a backdrop of discrimination that has permeated radical Islam. Last month, Ayman al-Zawahri, Al Qaeda’s second in command, said in an online questionand- answer session that women could not join Al Qaeda.
The changing role of women in the movement is particularly apparent in Western countries.
Ms. El Aroud reflects that trend. “Normally in Islam the men are stronger than the women, but I prove that it is important to fear God – and no one else,” she said.
Ms. El Aroud collects more than $1,100 a month in government unemployment benefits.
“Her jihad is not to lead an operation but to inspire other people to wage jihad,” said Glenn Audenaert, the director of Belgium’s federal police force, in an interview. “She enjoys the protection that Belgium offers. At the same time, she is a potential threat'”
Although Ms. El Aroud insists that she is not breaking the law, she knows that the police are watching. And if the authorities find way to put her in prison, she said: “That would be great.
They would make me a living martyr.”