'Jihad Jamie' and the 'black widows': Why women turn to terrorism
Statistically, women are far less violent than men. But the case of Jihad Jane's alleged conspirator, Jamie Paulin-Ramirez, and the resurgence of the black widows in Chechnya suggest that when it comes to terrorism, men and women have much in common.
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By contrast, the arraignment of Ms. Paulin-Ramirez, who has said she will plead not guilty Wednesday, was jarring. She is pregnant, and she has a 6-year-old son. "It's staggering to see society's caretakers turn to violent destruction," writes Salon's Tracy Clark Flory.Skip to next paragraph
This is partly because they so rarely do turn to violence. Men commit more murders than women "in all the countries researchers have examined," according to a recent article in Scientific American. "We often turn our backs to the possibility that women could commit such hideous acts of violence," says Northeastern University criminologist Jack Levin. "We don't expect women to open fire ... and statistically they don't."
Under the radar?
Secular terrorist organizations have sought to turn that to their advantage. Nearly all – from Chechen separatists to Sri Lanka's Tamil Tigers to the Syrian Socialist National Party – have used women to attack the enemy.
Ms. LaRose told co-conspirators in an e-mail that her appearance – blond hair and green eyes – would allow her to blend in “with many people,” so that she could achieve “what is in my heart.”
LaRose pleaded not guilty to terror conspiracy charges on March 18. Last Friday, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment also naming Ramirez as part of the plot to kill Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks. The same day Ramirez arrived in Europe last year, she married an Algerian man whom she had never met, and who, according to the indictment, was a conspirator in the plot, though he was not indicted.
"The issue of US converts [to radical Islam] is not new,” Juan Carlos Zarate, senior adviser in the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Monitor's Peter Grier. “What is new is that in this case, the convert may be a middle-aged female.”