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First Comes IS, Then Comes Marriage...If You Can Find A Bride

Chechen Islamic State militant DjunduLlah (right) poses with a fellow militant in photo posted to his account. DjunduLlah complains that there are no women for him to marry.

Chechen Islamic State militant DjunduLlah (right) poses with a fellow militant in photo posted to his account. DjunduLlah complains that there are no women for him to marry.

Chechen Islamic State militant DjunduLlah (his nom de guerre) really, really wants to tie the knot.

Problem is, he's short of prospects.

DjunduLlah says he hasn't found the right woman (or, indeed, any woman) who is willing to marry him.

"Where are those sisters who want to get married to mujahedin (jihad fighters), or is your faith only lip service?" DjunduLlah complained in a recent post on the Russian-language social media site VKontakte.

The militant, who says he is aged 19 and whose VKontakte page has more than 2,600 subscribers, went on to complain that women are marrying fashionable young men instead of choosing militants.

"How many brothers are unmarried and you are marrying such modnyaki (trendy types)?" he asks.​

Over on his account, which he runs with a fellow militant, DjunduLlah complained in a post on June 11 that there is no one for him to marry.

Militant Dating Crisis

DjunduLlah's complaint about a shortage of women willing to become jihadi brides seems to indicate a more widespread problem, at least among Russian-speaking IS militants.

They joke that militants who can't get married should just undertake a suicide mission so that they can go to heaven and marry "houris" -- the beautiful, dark-eyed, virginal nymphs that IS militants believe they will get in Paradise if they die as martyrs.

"Are you gonna sign us up for suicide mission?" DjunduLlah joked on "Akhi (brother) houris akhi praise Allah, yalla (let's go) on a suicide mission!"

Even female IS militants in Syria and Iraq are talking about the militant-dating crisis.

In a response to DjunduLlah's complaint that he cannot find a wife, a female militant named Umm Bul'chita commented that women who do come to Syria don't have to worry about being someone's second or third wife.

"In Sham (Syria) we have very many unmarried brothers!!!! UNMARRIED! Who don't have A SINGLE wife!" she wrote.

Several of the male militants who say they can't find a wife have complained that North Caucasian women pretend to support IS but will not come to Syria to marry militants.

Social-media evidence suggests that Russian-speaking militants, including ethnic Chechens, have preferred to marry women from their own communities rather than Syrian or Iraqi women.

In March, Abu Umar Grozny, the Chechen leader of IS's North Caucasian fighting faction Katibat Al Aqsa, complained that Chechen women were wasting men's time and only pretending to support IS.

Grozny threatened that if Chechen women did not stop toying with men, Chechens in Syria and Iraq would start to marry Syrian women instead.

Women, Do Your Duty

The North Caucasian militant-bride crisis has inspired one female IS militant and recruiter who goes by the nom de guerre Umm Shahida al-Shishani to call on North Caucasian women to go to Syria and Iraq to get married.

In her call for brides, titled A Message To Sisters In The Lands Of The Caliphate And To Sisters In The Lands Of The Infidels, Umm Shahida says that it is the duty of Muslim women to marry militants.

"Sisters, I have a message for you! Why don't you want to marry mujahedin? What's the problem? What are you afraid of? ... They're becoming martyrs and that's why you're not marrying them?" Umm Shahida writes.

Women who refuse to wed militants because they are afraid of marrying a man who will die in battle just want to "live with your husbands forever," complains Umm Shahida.

But life is fleeting, and nothing lasts forever, she explains.

Promoting Militant Marriage

The concept that devout Muslim women should marry a "mujahid" or jihadi fighter is a common narrative promoted on Russian-language pro-IS and other extremist Islamist social media.

In a post widely shared on pro-jihad and pro-IS accounts, the Traveler Through Life VKontakte page, whose members include the Berlin-based Daghestani IS activist Murad Atajev, called on women on June 4 to "make the right choice."

"Allah created woman, and she must get married...Listen to what your Chechen sister tells you...'Let my husband be a mujahid and no one else!'."

Recruiting Women

IS recruiter Umm Shahida's call for women to marry militants includes a wider message. According to her, women must undertake "hijra," or immigration, to IS-controlled lands and marry militants there, rather than in Chechnya or Daghestan. She invites women to contact her privately and she will help them make this move.

The IS recruiter accuses women of being ungrateful after IS has established a "caliphate" -- the name given by IS to the lands under its control -- for them to live in.

"Remember when you were in Daghestan and you screamed that you wanted a caliphate... HERE Allah has created a caliphate for you and where are you?" Umm Shahida asks.

In recent months, there have been signs that IS's Russian-speaking contingent has stepped up efforts to recruit both men and women to join its ranks in Syria and Iraq.

A message purporting to be from Russian-speaking women with IS in Syria calling on women to join them was shared widely on pro-IS social media in March.

Like Umm Shahida, the authors of the message said that it was a Muslim woman's duty to perform "hijra" to IS-controlled territory.

It is unclear to what extent the recruitment campaigns targeting potential Russian-speaking jihadi brides is working.

But there have been reports of young women from the Russian Federation traveling to Syria and Iraq to join IS.

One of the most recent reports involves a 19-year-old Russian student, Varvara Karaulova, who was arrested on the Turkey-Syria border this month alongside 13 other Russian nationals and four Azerbaijanis.

Karaulova's relatives say that the teenager had been recruited to IS via the Internet, though it is not clear by whom or if she had planned to marry a militant.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena


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