A new Islamic State (IS) group media wing is targeting women who want to take part in the "jihad" in Syria and Iraq, with courses in how to be good companions and wives to IS militants.
The Zora Foundation says it aims to prepare potential female IS recruits for jihad in several ways. Among the "useful skills" taught by the group will include practical competencies such as first aid (to be used to help militants injured in battles), how to work with design and editing programs (to help spread IS propaganda), how to use weapons, and how to cook and sew for militants.
The Zora Foundation's Twitter account already has over 2,700 followers, while its Facebook account -- opened on October 22 -- has garnered almost 300 "likes."
The foundation has already published some material, including what it describes as "fast and easy recipes." These include a photographic guide to making a simple snack using just three ingredients: dates, flour, and butter.
"This is a quick recipe that can be served to the mujahedin [IS militants] with coffee or can be eaten at any time with water, especially during breaks in battles. They contain significant calories and will extend the power and strength of the mujahedin, Allah willing," the guide explains.
The Zora Foundation's YouTube channel has published a video advertising the skills it intends to teach.
There have been a number of reports about Islamic State's female brigades, particularly in the Syrian city of Raqqa. Also, many of the foreign fighters who joined IS brought women and children with them. According to opposition websites there are two all-women groups, the Al-Khansaa and the Umm Al-Rayan brigades. The brigades patrol the city's streets and check that male activists are not posing as women to evade checkpoints.
Russian-speaking IS militants and pro-IS social media accounts have joked about militants needing wives and have suggested that IS gunmen might need more than one wife. This recent image, shared on pro-IS social media illustrates this point. Titled "family status," it reads (from left to right): "Unmarried, Somewhat Married, Married."
There has been heated debate among Russian-speaking militants in Syria and in the North Caucasus over whether women should emigrate -- "hijra" -- to Syria, including without the permission of their parents. Some commentators and Islamic scholars have insisted that Russian-speaking Muslim women should not go to Syria because there is fighting in that country.
The debate over whether Russian-speaking Muslim women should travel to Syria and join IS came to a head last year, when Seda Dudurkaeva, the 20-year-old daughter of Chechnya's Federal Migration Service director ran away to Syria to marry a young Chechen man who had joined IS some months earlier. In the ensuing scandal, Islamic State's military commander in northern Syria, Umar Shishani, was criticized by Sunni scholar Sheikh al-Suhaibani in Medina for refusing to allow Seda's parents to take the girl home to Chechnya.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk