Pakistan’s Tehreek-i-Taliban launched women’s magazine to appeal to female jihadists

nsnbc : Pakistan’s Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) has recently published its first women’s magazine, Sunnat-e-Khaula, urging potential female jihadists to join the ranks of the militant group and to devote themselves to the cause of jihad.

Pakistan_Pakistani womem_TPP women's magazine_Aug 2017The Sunnat-e-Khaula (The Way of Khaula) magazine is named after a young female fighter during the time of the Prophet Muhammad. Local analysts report that the magazine is yet another effort on part of TPP to broaden their outreach and appeal to millions of Pakistani women and recruit them to their militant cause. A similar development, although without women’s magazine, has also recently been observed with the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

In an advice column of the magazine, the militant group urges women to “distribute literature reflecting on the obligation of jihad, arrange physical training classes for sisters. Learn how to operate simple weapons. Learn the use of grenades.”

The magazine is accessible to a few people. However, the news of its launch has been widely circulated on social media platforms in Pakistan, amplifying its reach and making its core content available online to a vast number of Pakistani youth. Some experts warn that, contrary to popular belief, middle-class students with access to digital media are more prone to radicalization than those of the madrasas.

Probably in part based on experience from ISIS’s successful media outreach, the TPP are increasingly resorting to using varied media platforms to promote and propagate their ideology.  Pakistan’s National Action Plan, a comprehensive 20-point strategy devised in 2015 to fight extremism, calls for strict action to be taken against literature, newspapers and magazines promoting hatred, extremism, sectarianism and intolerance’ in the country. Sadly, in Pakistan such a program is likely to also target legal and legitimate free speech in general while the plan may have little to no effect on the issues it purports to address.

Qibla Ayaz, former dean of the faculty of Islamic and Oriental Studies at the University of Peshawar, called the TTP magazine launch a dangerous development for the youth of the region, ‘since the new generation is all there on the social media. [The Islamic State] militant outfit has adopted the same social media strategy for its recruitment, and it seems to be a problem here, too.’

Speaking with reporters he said he thought the problem was not limited to Pakistan and called for a counter extremism narrative across the Muslim world to counter it. ‘We have not developed a well-constructed counter extremism narrative,’ he said. ‘I think all the leading voices around the Muslim world need to come together and come up with a joint strategy against it [extremism].’

The magazine reportedly has articles about prominent Muslim women from the early era of the emergence of Islam, sharing their experiences and advising women of faith to fully implement the code of Islam in their lives. The magazine interviewed a woman who said she was the wife of TPP leader Fazlullah Khorasani. She advocated for the benefits of early-age marriage and defended her own at age 14 to Khorasani.

F/AK – nsnbc 08.08.2017

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