Taliban’s magazine urges women to ‘learn the use of grenades’

Web Desk) – A women centric magazine aimed at encouraging them to join the ranks of ‘mujahideen’ has been published by the Pakistani Taliban.

The magazine called Sunnat-e-Khola, which translates as “The Way of Khaula” and refers to a 7th-century female Muslim warrior – shows a woman veiled from head to toe. The magazine has made waves in international media.

According to the Guardian, the first edition of the magazine aimed at convincing women to join them and practise jihad. The inaugural front cover of the 45-page magazine attempts to depict support from a section of society traditionally despised by the militant group. As well as an advice column for would-be female jihadists, the magazine contains an interview with the wife of Fazlullah Khorasani, the head of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). She is not named in the interview, in which she talks about marrying Khorasani at 14.

“I ask you why now everywhere there is a hue and cry about underage marriages … We have to understand that mature boys and girls if left unmarried for too long can become a source of moral destruction of the society,” she says.

An opening editorial says the magazine is aimed at encouraging “women of Islam to come forward and join the ranks of mujahideen”. “Organise secret gatherings at home and invite like-minded jihadi sisters,” the editorial suggests. “Distribute literature reflecting on the obligation of jihad, arrange physical training classes for sisters. Learn how to operate simple weapons. Learn the use of grenades.”

Michael Kugelman, a south Asia specialist at the Woodrow Wilson Center in the US, said it made sense for the Pakistani Taliban to launch a women’s magazine. “This is a struggling organisation that is trying to re-establish networks and membership after being hit hard on the battlefield in recent years,” he said. “Women are a strategic demographic because they have the ability to exert influence over their sons. If women are converted to the militant cause, they can encourage their sons – or daughters for that matter – to join it as well.”

The Telegraph, in its report on the magazine, speaks of an article written by a 6-year-old student of one of the religious seminaries that have developed many leaders of the Pakistani Taliban. The boy says his brother was killed while carrying out a suicide attack within Pakistan, and he now helps his mother look after mujahedeen, as he plays with toy guns and awaits his own turn to carry out jihad.

Imtiaz Gul of the Centre Research and Security Studies says the magazine is an attempt by the Taliban to “grab attention” again after a draining series of defeats on the battlefield. The Pakistani military has driven the Taliban out of many of its strongholds in northwestern tribal areas, as part of a ferocious campaign that followed the jihadists’ 2014 attack on an army school in Peshawar which killed 144 children and teachers.
Between 2013 and 2016, the number of civilian casualties of terrorism in Pakistan declined 80 per cent, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal.