The Many Faces of Women Terrorists

August 2011 9781849041607 240pp
Temporarily out of stock


The ultimate stealth weapon, female terrorists kill on average four times more people than their male counterparts. But why are more women drawn to terrorism than ever before? Do women volunteer to be terrorists, or are they coerced? Does women’s participation in terrorism have any positive impact on their place in society?

In Bombshell, Mia Bloom seeks to understand what motivates women and to redress the gap in our understanding of women’s roles by interviewing women previously involved in terrorist groups. Bloom provides a unique and rare first-hand glimpse into the psychology, culture and social networks of women who become terrorists. Bombshell takes an in-depth look at women involved in terrorism in Chechnya, Colombia, Germany, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Lebanon, Palestine, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Syria, Turkey, the UK, and the USA.

Drawing on primary research and secondary literature, Bloom examines the increasing role of women in terrorism, and considers what it means for the societies from which they come.


‘The 9/11 team was all-male, led by Mohammed Atta, fastidious in his concern that no woman should be allowed to touch his dead body or appear at his funeral. But as Mia Bloom sets out to illustrate in Bombshell, female suicide bombers have rivalled their male counterparts as death-dealers and were doing so long before 9/11.’ — Toronto Globe and Mail

‘Bloom explores how and why women become terrorists and suicide bombers in this engrossing, deeply researched account. … Covering groups from the Black Widow Bombers of Chechnya to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka … this balanced, readable account offers invaluable insights into a hidden and disturbing world.’ — Publishers Weekly

‘Mia Bloom’s Bombshell is a genuine contribution to our understanding of women and terrorism. It demystifies the myths about female terrorists, who often form the invisible infrastructure of terrorism.’ — Professor Marc Sageman, author of Leaderless Jihad and Understanding Terror Networks

‘A highly readable analysis of why and how women become suicide bombers, and the reasons why some terrorist organizations deploy them as a weapon of last resort. Bloom’s case studies will provoke passionate debate.’ — Professor Paul Wilkinson, former Director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, St. Andrew’s University, Scotland


Mia Bloom (PhD, Columbia) is Associate Professor of International and Women's Studies at Penn State University.  She is a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is considered one of the world's leading authorities on suicide terrorism. She has held research and teaching appointments at Princeton, Cornell, Harvard, and McGill Universities.  Her first book Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror was published in 2005.

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