News Release

Margaret Gonzales-Perez

Southeastern terrorism expert claims groups hijack religion to support female suicide bombings

Contact: Rene Abadie


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     HAMMOND - Terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and Hamas have rejected mainstream Islamic law and teachings to craft a reinterpretation of Muslim doctrine as a way of legitimatizing female suicide bombings, according to a Southeastern Louisiana University expert in terrorism.
     “While mainstream Islamic scholars have consistently maintained that the Quran and other teachings clearly condemn terrorist acts and oppose suicide missions, leaders of these organizations have formulated their own radical interpretations based more on pragmatic military strategy than on any theological foundation,” said Margaret Gonzalez-Perez, professor of political science and author of the book “Women Terrorists: Female Activity in Domestic and International Terrorism.”
     “While the media may publicize the use of female suicide bombers as a sacrament of self-proclaimed ‘religious’ terrorists, or ‘fundamentalists,’ I argue that Islam does not provide any basis for suicide bombings,” said Gonzalez-Perez. Her study, “The False Islamization of Female Suicide Bombers,” appeared in a recent online issue in the journal, “Gender Issues.” 
     “This is nowhere more apparent than in their attempts to portray female suicide bombing as consistent with Islamic doctrine,” she added. “Terrorist groups have drawn on radical interpretations of religious doctrine to justify political violence that is actually prohibited by Islam.”
     Gonzalez-Perez said that unlike many religions, such as the Roman Catholic Church, which have a hierarchical structure of religious leaders, Islam is highly decentralized and has no universal supreme religious leader. 
     “Jihadist groups like Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Al Qaeda have taken advantage of this power vacuum to reinterpret Islamic doctrine to meet their own needs,” she added. 
     She said the rules of Islam are clear in that war can only be declared by a state and not by individuals, groups or organizations. In addition, she said, the Quran prohibits targeting innocent civilians, equating the act with that of murder.
     According to Gonzalez-Perez, terrorist groups recruit women by exploiting vulnerable females, including those with mental health issues and girls as young as 14. The common profile of female suicide bombers is that of a woman trying to survive in the aftermath of a war with no social, political or economic security. Understanding female suicide bombers and their motivations, she said, can be helpful in developing counter-terrorism strategies.
     “The decidedly un-Islamic introduction of female suicide bombers is hardly surprising in current terrorist groups, for they simply reinterpret and manipulate religious doctrine to legitimize acts that are strategically and militarily utilitarian. Female suicide bombers are not Islamic martyrs nor any other manifestation of orthodox religious faith.”

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