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Press release

ICCT Press New Book - Female Jihadis Facing Justice: Comparing Approaches in Europe

30 Jan 2024

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) published today the new book "Female Jihadis Facing Justice: Comparing Approaches in Europe", looking at the criminal justice response to female violent extremist offenders in Europe. Drawing on a unique dataset of 283 court decisions involving 277 female VEOs in four European countries, as well as on interviews with 69 counter-terrorism practitioners and policymakers, this data-driven comparative study offers new insights into the various profiles of these women. It also offers an in-depth assessment of the challenges raised by these women throughout the criminal justice system since 2012, while exploring in details the various frameworks and practices with regard to the prosecution, prison management, rehabilitation and reintegration of female VEOs in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands.  

Since 2012, a significant number of women have travelled from Europe to join the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terrorist groups, mainly in Syria and Iraq. Additionally, many women supported jihadi groups while remaining in their home countries, with some of them even being involved in terrorist plots. Although the participation of women in terrorist activities is not new, the attention given to female VEOs in Europe has increased significantly in the past few years, presenting unprecedented challenges to counter-terrorism actors.   

Dr. Thomas Renard, Director of ICCT, and Tanya Mehra, Senior Researcher at ICCT, commented on the significance of the book, stating: "Our research fills a critical gap in the academic literature, which has largely overlooked the role of women in terrorism and rarely managed to build large samples to study, but it also seeks to inform evidence-based policies and practices in counter-terrorism. By better understanding the intricacies of managing female VEOs throughout the criminal justice chain, we aim to contribute to the development of gender-sensitive, rule-of-law and human rights compliant approaches to the prosecution, prison management, rehabilitation and reintegration of these women." 

This book is open-access and is a must-read for policymakers, practitioners, academics, and anyone interested in understanding the contemporary challenges of terrorism and counter-terrorism. "Female Jihadis Facing Justice: Comparing Approaches in Europe" is the result of a project that was funded by the Dutch National Coordinator for Counter-Terrorism and Security (NCTV).

It is now available for free download here.

The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) is one of the leading think tanks on counter-terrorism worldwide. It provides research, policy advice, good practices recommendations and capacity building support for researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers worldwide. It was founded in 2010, and is based in The Hague, Netherlands. 


For media inquiries, please contact: 

Francesca Merletti at or + 31 (0) 70 7630059