Between 1985 and 2008, female suicide bombers committed more than 230 attacks—about a quarter of all such acts. Women have become the ideal stealth weapon for terrorist groups. They are less likely to be suspected or searched and as a result have been used to strike at the heart of coalition troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. This alarming tactic has been highly effective, garnering extra media attention and helping to recruit more numbers to the terrorists' cause. Yet, as Mia Bloom explains in Bombshell: Women and Terrorism, female involvement in terrorism is not confined to suicide bombing and not limited to the Middle East.
From Northern Ireland to Sri Lanka, women have been engaged in all manner of terrorist activities, from generating propaganda to blowing up targets. What drives women to participate in terrorist activities? Bloom—a scholar of both international studies and women's studies—blends scrupulous research with psychological insight to unearth affecting stories from women who were formerly terrorists. She moves beyond gender stereotypes to examine the conditions that really influence female violence, arguing that while women terrorists can be just as bloodthirsty as their male counterparts, their motivations tend to be more intricate and multilayered. Through compelling case studies she demonstrates that though some of these women volunteer as martyrs, many more have been coerced by physical threats or other means of social control.
As evidenced by the March 2011 release of Al Qaeda's magazine Al Shamikha, dubbed the jihadi Cosmo, it is clear that women are the future of even the most conservative terrorist organizations. Bombshell is a groundbreaking book that reveals the inner workings of a shocking, unfamiliar world.
Prologue: Moscow, March 2010
1 A Brief History of Terror and the Logic of Oppression
2 The Black Widow Bombers
3 The "Pregnant" Bomber
4 The Scout
5 The Future Bombers
6 The Crucial Links
7 The Recruiters and Propagandists
8 The Fours Rs plus One
"Engrossing. . . . This balanced, readable account offers invaluable insights into a hidden and disturbing world."—Publishers Weekly
"Mia Bloom's Bombshell is a genuine contribution to our understanding of women and terrorism. It demystifies the myths about female terrorists, who often form the invisible infrastructure of terrorism."—Marc Sageman, author of Leaderless Jihad and Understanding Terror Networks
"A highly readable analysis of why and how women become suicide bombers, and the reasons why some terrorist organizations deploy them as a weapon of last resort. Bloom's case studies will provoke passionate debate."—Paul Wilkinson, author of Terrorism Versus Democracy