Prominent Islamic State (ISIS) Supporter Launches Campaign Against Women's Support For The Organization On Social Media, Prominent Female Supporter Responds

June 2, 2022

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In recent days, prominent Islamic State (ISIS) supporter Abu 'Imad Al-Nayrabi has been leading a campaign against female supporters, warning against accounts on Telegram and other social media platforms that subscribe to pro-ISIS channels run by women, promote such channels, or post video clips featuring women, even if they are fully covered in Islamic dress.

It should be noted that the issue of male and female jihadis interacting on social media for the purpose of supporting ISIS is controversial even among jihadis themselves, with Al-Nayrabi's hardline position seeming to go against the actions of the official ISIS media apparatus. In February 2018, for example, as ISIS was losing its last remaining territory in eastern Syria, the organization released an official video showing veiled women fighting in its defense.[1]

Abu 'Imad Al-Nayrabi Warns Against Promoting Women's Accounts, Posting Clips Showing Women

On May 30, 2022, Al-Nayrabi published a Telegram post: "We repeat for the umpteenth time: Whoever supports women is suspect, unknown, a follower of his desires, with no manliness. The end."[2] By "supporting," he refers to a common practice among ISIS supporters, asking others to subscribe to their Telegram channel, friend them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter or Instagram, in the hope that it will make the company less likely to delete or suspend the account.

In another post from the same day, Al-Nayrabi wrote that anyone who "helps women have a presence in the world of support [for ISIS]" by subscribing to their channels, promotes channels which do so, or even promotes channels which promote such channels should "fear Allah" and desist from such activity. He claims that promoting a channel which promotes women's channels is equivalent to an endorsement, and that only someone "with no manliness" would do such a thing.[3]

In a third post later that day, Al-Nayrabi asserts that those who "want the truth in the world of support [for ISIS]" do not promote channels run by women or support promoters of them, nor do they promote channels which post video clips featuring women, even if they appear "in their full shari'a-sanctioned dress." True ISIS supporters also do not promote "suspect" channels that post material by "the dogs of Al-Qaeda or the clerics of the apostate rulers," and doing any of the above renders one guilty of "perverting the methodology of support [for ISIS]."

Al-Nayrabi states that for years, he has been "offering advice [to supporters] and trying to rectify" the state of affairs in which men and women subscribe to each other's channels; and that while some supporters have accepted his critique, others who "are arrogant will be exposed publicly as long as they persist in these vile, lowly actions."[4]

Al-Nayrabi Demonizes Supporter Who Promotes Women's Accounts, Warns Against Interacting With Him

Following his warning that he will no longer remain silent to supporters who interact with women, Al-Nayrabi published a post on May 31 titled "The Dogs of Their Whims Follow in the Footsteps of Satan," in which he publicly calls out a Telegram user known as Al-Shami, who runs the Muwahhidoun fi Zaman Al-Fitan ("Monotheists in a Time of Tribulations") and Tahta Zilal Al-Suyouf ("Under the Shade of Swords") channels, describing him as "a man with an obscene tongue" who "is not fit to be among the supporters or in their private groups, much less to be the face of the Islamic State in the media." Al-Nayrabi claims that he warned against Al-Shami two years ago, asserting that "wicked" people like him agree with those who agree with them while arrogantly opposing ISIS supporters who criticize them, and adds: "May Allah not bless him or those like him – the gang who almost make arrogance and haughtiness into an idol which they worship." Al-Nayrabi warns his fellow supporters not to communicate with Al-Shami or join his channels or channels promoted by him.[5]

Al-Nayrabi: Women Supporting ISIS On Social Media Are Committing A Sin

In another lengthy post, Al-Nayrabi warns against "the temptation of mixing" with women on social media, noting that most women who support ISIS on social media are widows or their husbands are in prison, but if their husbands were present, they would object to their wives' activity. He asks his fellow supporters: "How can you approve of your sister in faith exchanging messages and crowding together with men on Telegram, Facebook, and Twitter and publishing her words, thoughts, and speech to the public?" and asserts that promoting accounts run by women "facilitates the work of Allah's enemies who lie in wait for them" and exposes them to danger.

Appealing to their jealousy and honor, he asks his readers if they would allow their wives or sisters to communicate with strange men, adding that supporters should particularly refrain from contact with the wives of mujahideen or students of religious studies, out of respect for "their husbands' good work of jihad and seeking knowledge." He argues that women are not meant to engage in "media jihad" to support ISIS, claiming that "it is the Kurdish PKK party which allows their women to fight together with them, because of their lack of men and lack of jealousy for their honor," whereas "in Islam, a woman's place and jihad is in her home, through her husband and children; she should teach them the creed and monotheism."

Addressing women who support ISIS on social media, Al-Nayrabi tells them: "Fear Allah, sister. You incur a sin through this work," asserting that their martyred or imprisoned husbands would not allow them to communicate with men. He adds that "if you want to support Allah's religion and His servants [i.e. the mujahideen] and insist on doing so," accounts should be created under male or unisex names, "so that someone with a sick mind does not come to temptation, conversation [with women], or mixing [with women] through you."[6]

Pro-ISIS Media Group Joins Al-Nayrabi's Campaign

The pro-ISIS Bariqah News Agency joined Al-Nayrabi's campaign by forwarding his posts on this subject. Bariqah also published its own post by the media group's editor endorsing the campaign started by "Hajji [a term of respect] Abu 'Imad," asserting that anyone who subscribes to channels run by women is "suspect and deficient in manhood, or perhaps lacking it altogether." Bariqah's editor declared that anyone who objects to this, "whether they are women or women in trousers, should plow the sea or drink it."[7]

Although neither Al-Nayrabi nor Bariqah mentions her by name, it appears that one of the women the campaign intends to effectively ban from her media activity is the prolific ISIS supporter who uses the alias Ahlam Al-Nasr ("Dreams of Victory") and is the widow of prominent Austria-born ISIS fighter Mohamed Mahmoud aka Abu Usamah Al-Gharib. In May 2021, the pro-ISIS Al-Taqwa Media Foundation defended its practice of publishing her material, claiming that Ahlam Al-Nasr has always contacted the publishers of her works through an intermediary and that her behavior is unimpeachable and should be emulated.[8]

Prominent Female Supporter Rejects Al-Nayrabi's Campaign As Based On A "Selective" Understanding Of Shari'a

In a June 2021 essay, Ahlam Al-Nasr herself lashed out at those who seek to exclude women from supporting ISIS, calling them "people of ignorance" who consider women "worthless." She asserted that on the contrary, women should "dedicate all [their] capabilities, intelligence, experiences, and information to defending Islam and its State" and will be punished by Allah if they refrain from doing so. She advised female supporters to keep communication with men to a minimum and if possible, to correspond with men through their male relatives or through friends who have male relatives, but insisted that "the participation of women in activities that promote ISIS does not contradict compliance with shari'a."[9]

While Ahlam Al-Nasr has not responded directly to Al-Nayrabi's campaign, on May 31 she published a Telegram post which appears to allude to it by urging supporters not to be "selective with the laws of shari'a" by treating it like a "market where you choose whatever you like and leave the rest." She encourages their compliance with shari'a as a whole "even if it conflicts with your whims," claiming that the "selectiveness" of some ISIS members in applying shari'a is what "made the adversaries act hostilely toward the Caliphate and spurn jihad."[10]


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