JAKARTA, Indonesia—An online magazine catering to supporters of the Islamic State in Southeast Asia is not the first place you might expect to find a spread featuring an illustration of a pink flower. But there it was amid articles about beheadings and bombings in an issue last year of Al-Fatihin, or The Conquerors.
At first glance, the image could be mistaken for a misplaced advertisement. But the title above it left no doubt about the article’s intended audience: Jihad Wanita, or “Women’s Jihad.” The following six paragraphs outlined the different forms of jihad a woman can carry out, such as caring for wounded soldiers or supporting jihadis in battle. In another issue of Al-Fatihin, a black-and-white photograph of a woman standing alone, firing a rifle from behind a barricade, accompanied an article that trumpeted the courageousness of Muslim women in the Islamic State and urged them to take up armed struggle against unbelievers.
Al-Fatihin, which is circulated in jihadi group chats on Telegram and WhatsApp, now has editions in both Indonesian and Malay. Adhe Bhakti, a terrorism expert with the Center for Radicalization and De-radicalization Studies in Jakarta, pointed to the magazine when we met in May to demonstrate the tactics that jihadi networks are using to entice women to join their cause in Indonesia. “Police are becoming more aware about women’s involvement in violent extremism, shifting from supporter to initiator and now perpetrator,” he explained.