Are female fighters like Arin Mirkan the “acceptable” face of suicide bombing for US?
If your ambition is to be a “suicide” bomber and you want to be supported and possibly armed and funded by the US government, it appears there is a higher chance of achieving your aim by adhering to the following three points,
1) You must get yourself into a group that is officially on the US designated Foreign Terrorists Organizations list (FTOs) such as PKK (Kurdish Workers Party) or a group allied to PKK.
2) It helps to be young, pretty and female (then allies of US will circulate your photo on Twitter and Facebook, hailing you a hero for your stance against “the enemy”).
3) You must only attack a recognized “enemy of the US”…. As Max Abrahms (terrorism theorist at North Eastern University) stated, “who would have thought Washington would team up with Assad and the PKK as part of the war on terrorism?” the enemy being the Islamic State (IS)
Taking all three into account, the best option is to be a female, PKK or YPG (Kurdish People’s Protection Unit) or Peshmerga fighter (those who confront death) attacking the Islamic State. The Peshmerga have an elite female unit prepared to take on IS.
Al Arabiya News alleges the first reported case of a female Kurdish fighter carrying out alleged suicide bombing against the Islamic State stating,
“A female Kurdish fighter carried out a suicide bomb attack against jihadists from the Islamic State group outside the embattled Syrian border town of Kobane on Sunday, a monitor said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the woman blew herself up at an ISIS position east of the city, killing a number of jihadists who have surrounded Kobane and are battling to seize it.”
The Telegraph later identified the fighter as Arin Mirkan.
Social media supporters of PKK are pushing for female fighters to be viewed as taking on killers of Alan Henning, the British aid worker recently beheaded by IS as this could make potential suicide bombers more palatable to the public.
Meanwhile Ceylan Ozalp (age 19) a YPG fighter who is alleged to have used her last bullet to shoot herself after her unit was wiped out south east of Ain al-Arab, reportedly said,
“we’re not scared of anything. We’ll fight to the last. We’d rather blow ourselves up than be captured by ISIS.”
Hardline approach taken with US males like Moner Mohammad Abusalha travelling to Syria to fight
However if you are a male US citizen, known as “Abu Huraira al-Amriki” joining Nusra Front, described in New York Times as “an Islamist extremist group in Syria aligned with Al Qaeda in the fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria” and planning to self combust, a different attitude will prevail. Here are some comments reported in the NYT regarding potential American “suicide” bombers travelling to Syria,
“the recent flood of militants into the country poses a serious challenge, as these individuals could be trained to plan and carry out attacks around the world,” Mark F. Giuliano, the deputy F.B.I. director, said in prepared remarks in Washington on Wednesday.
An American suicide bomber in Syria is a “potential game changer,” said Seth Jones, a terrorism expert at the RAND Corporation.
“It indicates that Americans are honing their ability to conduct terrorist attacks,” Mr. Jones said, and could eventually be used inside the United States or against American interests abroad.
According to the Washington Post the American citizen was later identified Moner Mohammad Abusalha, 22, of South Florida and of Middle Eastern descent. He was alleged to have carried out the suicide truck bombing in the northern province of Idlib,
“a statement by Jabhat al-Nusra said the attack was one of four coordinated suicide bombings against government positions, in which two other foreign fighters and a Syrian participated”
Although Abusalha was clearly not a threat to the American mainland as he blew himself in Syria, FBI Director James B. Comey expressed his concerns in the Washington Post regarding Americans travelling to Syria stating, “far more people going there. Far easier to travel to and back from. So, there’s going to be a diaspora out of Syria at some point, and we are determined not to let lines be drawn from Syria today to a future 9/11.”
During an interview on Sunday with CBS’s 60 Minutes, Comey said he would “do everything in his power to monitor the militant fighters if they return to the United States” amid fears they would launch a terror attack on American soil.
It appears then that once again the US is exhibiting gross double standards and needs to clarify its official position on suicide bombers and which ones the US government support. White House officials also need to explain to the public what are the legal implications of supporting self exploders. Will we soon become enveloped in narratives of “good” and “bad” suicide bombers?
Russia Today (RT) reported the Kurdish female suicide bomber as, “using tactics usually employed by radical Islamist militants blowing herself up to kill several jihadists” but later referred to incident as a “first reported act of sacrifice on behalf of the local militia’s female brigades.” It is unlikely we would have seen such words used by the media to describe a male “martyrdom” operation in Afghanistan against US occupying forces.
Brave, brave, brainwashed
Double standards also exist regarding attitudes towards other women active in war zones. As the following photo depicts, a female KKP fighter targeting IS may be viewed as brave, the same for a woman fighter pilot however a “jihadist” lady suicide bomber in Syria, Iraq against US backed forces or targeting US occupying soldiers in Afghanistan is likely to be seen as “brainwashed”.
“White widow” Samantha Lewthwaite from the UK also demonized in the media, the “female version of Joseph Goebbels” (Daily Mail) is said to be “training an ISIS female suicide bomber squad in Syria and overseeing terror group’s propaganda”.
US may be sympathetic towards female Kurdish fighters as part of propaganda against IS. Some media allege IS fear being killed by a woman as they could deprive them of the reward of multiple virgins in paradise.
There are also wider implications regarding US supporting any female suicide bombers for countries such as Pakistan that takes a very severe line against insurgent “martrydom” operations when Taliban blow themselves up across the country. Is it acceptable then to take funding and aid from the US that is now backing PKK a terrorist organization or related group with fighters prepared to detonate themselves and the possibility of causing multiple deaths and injuries!
“Iraq and Syria: US foreign policy supporting terrorists and selective human rights”
Carol Anne Grayson is an independent writer/researcher on global health/human rights and is Executive Producer of the Oscar nominated, Incident in New Baghdad . She is a Registered Mental Nurse with a Masters in Gender Culture and Development. Carol was awarded the ESRC, Michael Young Prize for Research 2009, and the COTT ‘Action = Life’ Human Rights Award’ for “upholding truth and justice”. She is also a survivor of US “collateral damage”.