Moderate Saudi Women Push Back Against Terrorist Groups

   •    September 8, 2010

This article was originally published by MinnPost.

Haylah Al Qusayir could keep a secret, hated Saudi security forces and ran a lucrative cash flow operation for Al Qaeda, sending it more than $293,000 from women who thought their jewelry and savings were supporting poor Muslim orphans.

So when the 36-year-old widow was arrested in March with 112 other alleged Al Qaeda operatives, it was a big loss for the extremist group. So big, in fact, they threatened to kidnap Saudi princes to swap for Al Qusayir.

The flip side to Al Qusayir’s arrest was a spotlight on the need to involve Saudi women in anti-extremist programs, as has been done in other countries plagued by extremism.

“What we have found is that women … still carry a lot of power in the home, especially with sons … They are listened to,” said Washington-based Miki Jacevic, deputy director of the Institute for Inclusive Security, a non-profit promoting women’s contribution to fighting extremism in conflict areas such as Afghanistan.

“If certain conditions are met,” Jacevic added, women could be a valuable resource in battling extremism. “Women need to be … seen as political agents” able to act independently rather than just as victims of repression and violence, he said. “The key lesson is to remember you have to consult with them.”

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