2015-2016 Academic School Year

Motivations of the Muhajirat:
Why Western Women Join Islamic State
By: Layla Abi-Falah & Duenya Hassan

Memo, pdf

The flow of Western recruits joining Islamic State (IS) and traveling to Iraq and Syria is gaining considerable attention due to its scale and demographic composition. Of over 4,500 Western migrants to IS-held territory, more than 600 are believed to be women; therefore, in 7 Western recruits are female and that number is only increasing. These Western female recruits range between the ages of 15 and 44 years and are self-identified as muhajirat originating from Western Europe, mainly France, the United Kingdom, and Belgium. This memo details the range of motivations among Western women.

  
Going Viral:
Countering Extremist Messages on the Web
By: Layla Abi-Falah & Duenya Hassan

Memo, pdf.

Islamic State (IS) actively recruits Western women through sophisticated propaganda. Several sources report that IS posts over 90,000 extremist messages per day. These messages are distributed by a network of extremist followers and cover a range of issues, suggesting that IS has more to offer than just violence. However, government efforts to counter IS’s messaging to date have not fully addressed the comprehensive nature of IS’s narrative. This memo analyzes specific IS messages that resonate with Western women and offers ways to improve the content of counter-narratives.

 
Telling the Whole Story:
A Public-Private Partnership
By: Layla Abi-Falah & Duenya Hassan

Memo, pdf.

While considerable resources have been spent on counter-messaging, Westerners continue to sympathize with and join Islamic State (IS). This memo recommends that governments should assist grassroots campaigners by providing them with the necessary support to engage in effective counter-messaging. These campaigners will have greater legitimacy among the target audience and will better understand the motivations of potential recruits.