LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Pakistani woman’s role as a shooter in the San Bernardino massacre is raising fears that foreign-born brides who support the Islamic State group could marry Americans to come to the U.S. to carry out extremist missions.
Experts in jihad, immigration lawyers and former U.S. diplomats say there’s no sign other foreign brides have sought Western marriages to launch attacks, and it’s still not clear if 29-year-old Tashfeen Malik did so. But, they warn, that could change, especially if IS militants begin actively encouraging women to join men in attacks in the West.
While the group currently bars women from taking up arms for combat or other attacks, its commanders are pragmatic and adaptable and could drop their ban at any time, security experts say.
“When they see an opportunity to do damage, and the best man for the job is a woman, they will use the woman,” said Sasha Havlicek, a founder of the British-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue, whose work includes monitoring the flow of female extremist recruits.
“We will see women more active in terror plots,” Havlicek predicted. “We already know they are radicalizing in unprecedented numbers.”
The flow of IS supporters can also go the other way. Up to 30 women have left America to try to join the Islamic State group since it rose to prominence, according to a recent estimate from the Department of Homeland Security.
The numbers are higher in Europe, where more than 600 women have left to join extremists over that same period, Havlicek said.