According to General Mansur al-Turki of the Saudi interior ministry, the inclusion of women into al-Qaeda is an increasing concern. In fact, Saudi Arabian mother Heila al-Qusayyer is being hailed as the “First Lady” of the terrorist group for fund-raising done on its behalf and controlling as many as 60 cells.
From The Telegraph:
“The story of this woman, who was involved in collecting money, with that money finding its way to al-Qaeda, has been like an alarm call to us,” General Mansur al-Turki of the Saudi interior ministry told The Daily Telegraph.
There had been previous arrests of women terrorists, including some involved in bomb preparation but such is the sensitivity towards the role of women, they were returned home.
The active role Qusayyer played in al-Qaeda definitely came as a shock to many Saudi authorities. I mean, this woman was the terrorist group’s biggest fundraiser in the Arabian peninsula. I always pictured a female terrorist as acting alone, of being more of a suicide bomber than an actual leader. This latest twist in the network that is al-Qaeda has led to a close look at women in Saudi Arabia and their terrorist potential.
Consideration is paid to [Qusayyer’s] right to privacy as a woman. There is no known photograph of her, even wearing the niqab or face-veil that is used by all conservative women in the kingdom.
She was divorced by her first husband, Abdulkareem al-Humaid, the former oil executive, after he was jailed, so that she could continue her mission by marrying again.
Gen Turki said that women were possibly easier prey than men, because they were more affected by issues such as poverty and unemployment known to be a breeding ground for militancy.
He said it was also clear that women’s restricted lives under local customs and laws did not mean they were unable to mix with male militants.