Meet Zahra and Salma Halane, seventeen-year-old twin sisters from Manchester, England who are not currently living the lives of typical British teenagers. That's because they left England last June to follow their brother, Ahmed, in joining IS/ISIS/ISIL in Syria. In the short time since then they have both been married to IS militants and they have also both been widowed.
Zahra's online communications suggest that the twins are members of one of the two women's brigades in Raqqa, Syria, possibly the al-Khansaa brigade, which has the task of policing other women's behavior according to the IS version of sharia. Violations of the sharia code might mean not being adequately covered (say, missing the obligatory face veil) or being out without a mahram (husband, father, brother or adult son). Some violations result in floggings.
Here Zahra Halane poses in front of the IS flag while holding an AK-47:
Meet Aqsa Mahmood, a twenty-year old student from a fairly affluent family in Glasgow, Scotland. She is no longer attending to her studies, because she left Scotland for Syria in late 2013 to join IS:
Since then she has married an IS militant and commented online under the name of Umm Laytt. Some see her as an online recruiter for IS. Whether that is her official role or not, her online site contains suggestions of help for other women who might wish to join IS as well as explanations for her reasons for becoming a female jihadist. She appears to live in the Syrian "capital" of IS, Raqqa. Here she is with two other female jihadists (Umm Haritha and Umm Ubaydah)
These are three examples of the women and girls of IS who have independently joined the terrorist movement and cut their ties to their families and previous homelands. All three come from the UK, but other women have traveled to Syria to join IS from countries such as France, Germany, Austria, the US, Sweden, Canada and Indonesia.
Who are these foreign women of IS/ISIS/ISIL? Why do women and girls voluntarily join a terrorist organization which plans for a caliphate where women's rights would be minimal and their freedom of movement nonexistent? Why do women and girls voluntarily join a terrorist organization which openly practices rape and sexual slavery of "non-believing" women and children, not to mention the beheading of aid workers and journalists?