chapter  1
26 Pages

In the name of the cause: Women’s work in secular and religious terrorism

ByCINDY D . NESS

Since 1968, the year when modern international terrorism is widely accepted as having been ushered in, the means by which terrorist acts have been carried out, and the justifications for them, have undergone significant changes.1 In the post-Cold-War era, terrorism has had two different faces: one secular and one religious.2 Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, women and girls participated almost exclusively in the former because of the intense significance that religious extremism places on females remaining in traditional roles. Overall, the number of secular ethno-separatist struggles that women and girls were involved in during this period increased dramatically. Yet, despite the breadth of their participation in insurgencies and terrorist activities around the world for well over 20 years, the United States has had great difficulty in thinking of females as agents of aggression. This difficulty is plainly captured in a comment by George W. Bush on 4 April 2002 about the third Palestinian female suicide bomber, Ayat Akhras.3