>From Driving Cars to Leading Al Qaeda
By Abdul Rahman Al-Rashid
Haylah al Qassir is the subject of much discussion after the Al Qaeda
organization admitted that she was one of the most active elements in the areas
of preaching and propaganda, funding and recruitment. The organization revealed
the secret of this Saudi woman, whose identity remained hidden by the Saudi
security authorities for three months, as her arrest was announced in an [Al
Qaeda] audio recording a few days ago. In the recording, the organization calls
for its members to carry out crimes such as kidnapping princes, assassinating
state officials and bombing buildings until Haylah al Qassir is released.
Therefore, al Qassir must be an important element to the organization if it is
inciting war for the sake of her release.
Many people have written about the phenomenon of women in Al Qaeda and their
various roles. This Haylah is not the only Saudi woman [to be part of Al Qaeda]
as she was preceded by many others. The number of [Al Qaeda] women seems to be
increasing on the battlefields and behind the scenes where they provide
logistical support. Despite that it is an organization representing the highest
levels of religious and social extremism, Al Qaeda is fascinating not only in
terms of its ability to recruit the young and the old, the educated and
uneducated, the rich and the poor and people from various social categories; it
is also fascinating in terms of flexibility, the development of its thinking
and the way this is implemented within the organization. This is evident in its
acknowledgment of the importance of women as significant and active members.
The fascinating paradox is that the most extremist and hard-line organizations
in the world accept women as members, commanders and inspiring leaders. In
these organizations, women assume positions that deal with the internet,
fundraising and fieldwork accompanied by their men on the battlefield. In
comparison however, our civil societies that are supposed to be less extreme
and more tolerant, are preventing women from thriving.
If a woman like Haylah, or Wafa al Shahri, or Umm Osama and other Saudi women
before her who worked in the most dangerous profession on earth i.e. that of
terrorist activity, are fascinating examples then how can it be that ordinary
women who respect the law are still deprived of their basic rights such as
driving a car or working in a retail outlet and are not considered people who
are responsible for themselves but as subordinates?
Another aspect that is worth mentioning in the case of Haylah al Qassir is the
success of Al Qaeda's infiltration. This terrorist organization's ability to
infiltrate the closed society of Saudi women and its infiltration of the centre
of Saudi provinces reveals that despite the arrests and the hunts for hundreds
of Al Qaeda elements, the organization is still active and is spreading like
cancer. Unfortunately, the consecutive successes achieved by the security
apparatus have not hidden the fact that intellectual work has failed in its war
against the terrorist organization.
At this point we must ask who inspired this woman, who did she listen to and
which ideology attracted her? In the past, we used to say that people should be
concerned about their sons but now the message is: look out for your women, or
rather, look out for yourselves!
After all these bloody years, extremist thinking is still spreading in our
region and it is strong on all levels. Some people are apprehensive about
giving advice out of fear that they would be accused of Takfir [apostasy] and
they are even apprehensive about touching on the activities that are carried
out under the guise of religion, which are prevalent and come under various
pretexts. The new Al Qaeda member, Haylah al Qassir, who is 47 years old, used
to lecture women as a preacher and was raising funds from among them on the
pretext of assisting orphans and the poor and would then send the money to
terrorist groups in Yemen.
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