In terrorist activities, and in particular those of Islamic extremism, males have played a dominant role in the planning of terror attacks as well as the actual undertaking of those acts. However in recent years, and particularly over the last two decades, women have found an increasing role within the world of terrorism. Women have participated in various forms of terrorism and most recently we have seen increasing instances of female suicide bombers that have made media headlines. However female suicide bombers are not a new phenomenon and have in fact been used before the 21st century. The increase in female terrorists presents a new challenge to those fighting against terrorism. Their gender often allows them to go unsearched at checkpoints or puts those in harms way at ease just long enough to carry out an attack. Thus females pose a very real threat as terrorists and a powerful new means that terrorists are using in the pursuit of their objectives. This paper will briefly explore the history of female terrorism and will examine the increasing use of females, the role that gender plays in contemporary suicide terrorism and its implications for those trying to protect against them.
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