Analysing the Recruitment and Use of Foreign Men and Women in ISIL through a Gender Perspective

  • Dallin Van LeuvenEmail author
  • Dyan Mazurana
  • Rachel Gordon


ISIL’s declared goals of conquest and the imposition of its form of Islamic law to build a new society requires the group to recruit significant numbers of men and women. In its attempts to recruit foreign men, women and children, ISIL employs highly gendered narratives which exploit cleavages between potential recruits and their home countries, characterise the Syrian Civil War as a war against Muslims and ‘true’ Islam, promise that recruits will fulfil idealised roles as ‘real men’ and ‘real women’, and offer them a central role in building a new society where they no longer face discrimination and abuse and live a ‘holier’ life. This chapter privileges gender in its analysis of ISIL recruitment strategies and narratives targeting foreigners and the experiences of males and females upon entering ISIL. The insights garnered are important for both counter-terrorism and anti-radicalisation efforts.


Gender Terrorism Counter-terrorism Radicalisation Foreign fighters Violent masculinities Recruitment Violent extremism ISIL 


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Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dallin Van Leuven
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dyan Mazurana
    • 1
  • Rachel Gordon
    • 1
  1. 1.Tufts UniversityMedfordUSA

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