Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Criminal Justice (MACJ)


Criminal Justice, Criminology, & Forensics

First Advisor

Jacqueline B. Helfgott

Second Advisor

Elaine Gunnison

Third Advisor

William Parkin


Research on the role of women in terrorism has emerged over the last several decades suggesting that female terrorists tend to have more passive roles than male terrorists. Female Islamic terrorists may engage in such acts due to trauma, revenge, religious ideology, peers, spouses, expression of community outrage. However, gaps about their motivations remain. For example, very little research has explored the roles, responsibilities, and motivation of female terrorists who are specifically part of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This research seeks to fill these gaps by utilizing interpretative phenomenological analysis of qualitative research including documentaries, manifestos, magazines, memoir (written by female terrorists), and newspaper articles. Total twenty case studies were used to analyze on motives and roles, out of those, eighteen belonged from ISIS and rest from other terrorist groups. In pre-identified motives, there was no particular theme which highlighted the most whereas the findings of this research helped in developing a new typology on motives of female Islamic terrorists. For roles, majority women were found to be indulged in forefront roles. Future research, policy suggestions, and how ISIS different from other Islamic terrorist organizations along with limitation are also discussed in this study.