One in three jihadists leaving to join Isis are now women and they are being trained in combat for the first time, the head of Europol has warned. This is a big increase from 2014 when it was estimated that one in seven of those heading to Syria and Iraq were women.
But Rob Wainwright said that women from the UK and other countries, were not simply becoming so-called “jihadi brides” and that there had been a shift among women radicalised by Isis who were not just seeking to fulfil the traditional Islamist role of keeping home, with many having battlefield experience.
A female fighter posted on a Twitter account attributed to Umm Hussain al-Britani, thought to be Sally-Anne JonesTwitter
Speaking at a conference organised by the Commons home affairs committee, Europol director Wainwright, said: “A third of the outflow of jihadists to Syria and Iraq are females coming from all the prime countries.
“There are reports of different motives, some are going to engage in combat, some to be brides. It’s not one-dimensional.”
Claims emerged last week by a Tunisian recruit that hundreds of women are fighting with Isis in Libya and were trained in how to use weapons although there is yet to be a confirmed case of a British women fighting.
Wainwright added that about 5,300 Europeans had now travelled to Iraq and Syria with some in rehabilitation programmes and some in prison.
“But that still leaves a very sizeable number of potential terrorists in Europe. “It leaves us with a serious terrorism threat, I think the most is the most serious that the continent has faced since the days of 9/11. ”
Police described as high risk one in five jihadists who have returned to the UK.