In the past, Terrorist groups seemed cut out for the male gender. With the heavy lifting of machinery and running battles, women were not considered of high value.
However, as the face of terrorism continues to evolve, women and girls are now being recruited into violent extremist groups and are in fact a high-value target. Considering the societal position women hold, terrorists are now tapping into their soft and nurturing nature to achieve their agenda.
The Al Shabaab militia group is back on the ground following a major depletion of militants. They are now targeting social amenities and social groups online. With profiles that raise no alarm whether in person or online, they are now fast recruiting young girls and women without their knowledge.
Just another trick from the old book, the militants are tapping into the lacking emotional support of our girls, by coaxing them into dating. Seeing that they come off as elite gentlemen girls and women have fallen victim to radicalisation in the name of love.
Nasra Hassan, a mother of five says her daughter Lulu Ahmed ran off with a man and cautioned her family members against contacting her. “At first I thought it was normal teenage behaviour and she would return home” says Nasra
According to the distressed mother, her daughter was an active member of the community’s drama club and she would go to the Kayole social hall every day without fail. “She has always been passionate about acting and she had prospects of being a top actor in the country someday,” Nasra says as she holds back tears.
According to her friends, Lulu is said to have grown close to one of the community members who had just joined the drama group. She began withdrawing with time and eventually started missing practice which led to her disappearance. Before she disappeared, she got into an altercation with her mother and that is when she declared she was running off with her newly found love to a place they were planning to get married.
She would later call home days after her disappearance warning her mother against calling her. Her call would then be traced back to Mogadishu by authorities.
After an intense investigation, police would discover that the said boyfriend, who went by the pseudo “Osama”, was a member of an Al Shabaab faction. The young man is said to have facilitated Nasra’s escape according to call recordings obtained by Kenyan authorities. Even as efforts to find her continue, Nasra is almost sure she will never see her firstborn daughter, a thought she says she has to wake up to each day.
“If only I had probed her further about her plans to ran off and get married, I would have saved my daughter from this blood-thirsty terrorists. I am not even sure whether she is still alive.” Says Nasra as she bursts out in tears.