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In the Name of the Cause: Women's Work in Secular and Religious Terrorism

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The article begins by providing a brief history of the involvement of females in the conduct of modern terrorism and discusses the different ideological mindsets that account for their becoming more involved in terrorism associated with ethno-separatist rather than religious concerns, with an eye to the fact that the trend shows unmistakable signs of changing. Secondly, it considers the structure of logic, or systems of contention, that secular and religious groups employ in attempting to legitimize women and girls offering themselves up as martyrs, and discusses what mechanisms they share for doing so. The thesis of this paper is that secular and religious terrorism, though seeking to create significantly different worlds, one modern, the other traditional, fall back upon many of the same rhetorical strategies to justify females engaging in political violence, especially the rhetoric of martyrdom. The Sri Lankan nationalist-based Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is highlighted as the secular example and Hamas and Islamic Jihad as the religious ones.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Center on Terrorism, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York, New York, USA

Publication date: 01 September 2005

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