Youngest known case of girl terrorist
Today, a young girl believed to be as young as seven years old, killed herself and several others in a suicide bomb terrorist attack in the northeastern part of Nigeria in the ongoing confrontation from Boko Haram. The attack represents the youngest known female suicide bomber.
Other similar terrorist incidents in January
At the end of January, there were three similar terrorist events where young girls figured prominently:
(a) One in Maiduguri, Nigeria on January 9, 2015, involving a little girl who blew herself up at a crowded market, killing 20 people and injuring 57 more; and
(b) Two on January 10, 2015, in Nigeria, involving two little girls who each blew themselves up at crowded markets, killing several people.
The little girls in all three incidents were approximately 10-years-old witnesses said.
Likely youngest suicide bomber ever
The Nigerian incident on January 9, 2015, is believed to be the first time that a little girl was used as a suicide bomber by terrorist organizations. The use of two more little girls the next day to create terrorist attacks confirms the beginning of a trend of increasingly using women for terrorist acts and selecting younger and younger candidates.
Fathers involved in selection
As to the motivation for seven, or ten-year-olds to become suicide bombers, a report on December 24, 2014, in a Nigerian newspaper that reported on the arrest of a 13-year-old girl who attempted to blow herself up at a busy market, may explain it. In that case, the girl said that her father brought her to some men who strapped her with bombs and they told her they would kill her if she did not carry out the attack.
Using women for terrorism is becoming particularly popular in Nigeria. In late December, two women terrorists blew themselves up in Nigeria, killing dozens of shoppers at a market. That event followed a similar incident in the Summer of 2014 in which four women also carried out suicide bomb attacks in Kano, Nigeria’s largest city.
Women encouraged for missions
But the trend is not restricted to Nigeria. Women are being increasingly encouraged by terrorist leaders to participate in suicide attacks. For example, in a report by the Politiets Efterretningstjeneste, the Danish Security & Intelligence Service noted that the former al Qaeda leader in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, applauded women suicide bombers and the Politiets Efterretningstjeneste noted that such encouragement was growing.
Money Jihad, in this post on “Ten Women Who’ve Funded Jihad”, quotes the wife of another al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri who declared that Muslim women “should fulfill whatever they [the mujahideen] ask [including] through … participation in fighting or even through a martyrdom operation”.
Women terrorists are more effective killers studies find
Women suicide bombers are more deadly than men. According to counter terrorism research, over 40% of the suicide attackers in Chechnya are women and statistically speaking, they are more effective killers, killing an average of eight more people per suicide attack than their male counterparts. For example, Chechen black widows average 21 deaths per attack whereas men average 13. Terrorists from the Northern Caucasus have undertaken some of the most complex and bloody attacks in Europe. In 2002, they attacked the Moscow Theatre, seized hundreds of hostages that resulted in 130 deaths. In 2004, they seized 1,300 hostages at a school – 355 people were killed, over half of which were children.
Women suicide bomber terrorists appear to inspire others more effectively, including teenage girls, to emulate their behavior and become suicide bombers. From a counter terrorism perspective, women are less easily profiled, and therefore their actions are less predictable.
Women are less likely to be suspected or surveilled for terrorism physically (at check points, airports, borders, for example) and in the cyber world. Also, during security check points, women are less likely to be searched physically and according to studies, are better at distracting officers searching them to avoid detection.
Obviously, the use of younger and younger girls to commit acts of terrorism is troubling on another legal front and that is in respect of the fact that young children lack the capacity, intellectually and legally, to comprehend the consequences of their terrorist acts. In these situations, they are both terrorists in law and victims of war crimes in places like Nigeria.