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Women In Jihad

The days without reports of a terrorist attack, somewhere in the world, have become rare. And no, today is not one of them. Details are emerging this morning of three veiled women attacking a police station in the Kenyan city of Mombasa, reportedly wounding two officers before they were shot dead.

What stands out in particular in this report is the gender of the alleged terrorists. Other recent attacks in Kenya and Nigeria suggest that al-Shabaab (which is believed to be behind the events in Mombasa) and Boko Haram are increasingly using female jihadists, and sometimes even little girls, to carry out their terror agenda. Meanwhile, with information bringing the world ever closer, such scenarios appear to be inspiring others to do the same in faraway places. In Paris, for example, police are still investigating a group of ISIS-linked Islamist women who were planning a large-scale attack on the Notre-Dame cathedral.

This new tragic path toward a kind of jihad gender equality is a rather recent phenomenon. In a paper penned 10 years ago, Katharina Von Knop, a German professor of international politics, wrote that female suicide bombers "undermine the idea of who and what a terrorist is." She argued that the role of women in jihad is, originally, that of "an ideological supporter and operational facilitator," someone who can "continue to take care about the financial issues of the organization and continue to educate the children in the ‘right' belief," should the husband die in an attack. But at a time when al-Qaeda dominated the Islamic terror terrain, Von Knop also foresaw the evolution of the female jihadist into a full warrior. This, she concluded, provides terror groups with "a tactical advantage" given the "element of surprise, hesitancy to search women, and the stereotype of females as being nonviolent," not to mention the "much greater psychological impact."

The growing direct participation of women in terror operations not only raises the risk of more attacks, but also raises levels of suspicion towards Muslim women who have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism, including those dressed in traditional Islamic clothes. It is a reminder that recent debates in Europe over burqas and burkinis are no passing fashion.


  • Syrian ceasefire comes into force (see below).
  • 1.6 billion Muslims across the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, Islam's holiest festival.


At least 90 people were killed in airstrikes that hit rebel-controlled areas of Syria since the announcement of a U.S.-Russia ceasefire due to come into force today at sunset, CNN reports. In a letter addressed to Washington, rebel groups said they would "cooperate positively" but expressed doubts concerning the other party, the Russian-backed Syrian government. The ceasefire, if successful, should also allow for the nationwide delivery of aid. After the seven-day truce, "U.S. and Russian experts will work together to defeat Daesh the Arab acronym for ISIS and Nusra," John Kerry said as he announced the deal.


Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has canceled a planned two-day trip to California after she cut short her participation at a 9/11 memorial ceremony yesterday in New York City. A video posted on Twitter shows her apparently unable to walk unaided and extremely unsteady as she headed to a car away from the memorial. Her doctor said in a statement "she became overheated and dehydrated" and had been diagnosed with pneumonia last Friday. For The Daily Telegraph, this could mark "a major turning point" as questions emerge over her health, and yesterday's events will likely fuel Trump supporters' speculations.


76 years ago on this day, four teenagers stumbled upon something really awe-inspiring in southern France … That, and more, in your 57-second shot of history.


"We wonder how their lives might have unfolded — how their dreams might have taken shape," Barack Obama said about the "3,000 beautiful lives" in an address outside the Pentagon, as America marked 15 years since the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.


French police arrested a 15-year-old boy in Paris on Saturday, in connection with a female jihadist cell believed to have planned an attack on the Notre Dame cathedral, Le Figaroreports. In a Sunday interview with several French media outlets, Prime Minister Manuel Valls said that terror plots were foiled "every day" and that some 15,000 were being monitored for radicalization.


Some 800,000 Catalans used Sunday's annual La Diada, national day in Catalonia, to renew demands for independence from Spain. See how Barcelona-based La Vanguardia featured the protest on its front page.


South Korean intelligence officials believe that North Korea is "fully ready" to carry out a sixth nuclear test "on short notice," Yonhap reports, just days after the country conducted its most powerful test yet. South Korea meanwhile unveiled plans to raze Pyongyang should signs emerge that a nuclear attack is imminent. Seoul's plans would leave Pyongyang "reduced to ashes and removed from the map," a military source said.


At least 133 people were killed and 395 are missing, after what's believed to be the worst downpour to hit North Korea in decades. The figures, released by the UN, also place at 107,000 the number of people displaced, with thousands of buildings destroyed.


Donald Trump shows disdains for both Latinos in his own country, as well as some basic tenets of international relations. For Colombian daily El Espectador, Eduardo Barajas Sandoval writes: "Trump's proposal for a wall, and that Mexico should pay for it, is simple enough to show he has but a vague idea of the scope and dimension of the two states' relations. Among other elements he seems oblivious to the tremendous progression of Latino culture across the U.S., with Mexicans leading the way in this cultural transformation of so many aspects of everyday life there. ...

Lost in the forest of his own rhetoric, Trump has said so many things that were later modified that many have even hoped he might substantially change his positions toward the Mexicans. This has not happened."

Read the full article, Latino Pride Is Bigger Than Any Wall Trump Can Build.


The rerun of Austria's presidential faceoff between independent ecologist Alexander Van der Bellen and the far-right candidate Norbert Hofer is likely to be delayed until at least late November, due to faulty glue on postal vote envelopes, newspaper Die Presse reports. Austria's highest court had imposed a rerun on Oct. 2 after irregularities regarding postal votes handed Van der Bellen a narrow victory.


Ghost Town Grandeur — Mystras, 1961


You might have heard that a group of eight Chinese tourists in Israel recently had to pay an incredible $4,390 for humus. But it now appears they had a little more than just that.



As Star Trek recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, IFLScience! website focused on some of the technologies depicted in the cult science fiction show to see how feasible they are. Beam us up, Scotty!

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Livestream Shopping Is Huge In China — Will It Fly Elsewhere?

Streaming video channels of people shopping has been booming in China, and is beginning to win over customers abroad as a cheap and cheerful way of selling products to millions of consumers glued to the screen.

A A female volunteer promotes spring tea products via on-line live streaming on a pretty mountain surrounded by tea plants.

In Beijing, selling spring tea products via on-line live streaming.

Xinhua / ZUMA
Gwendolyn Ledger

SANTIAGO — TikTok, owned by Chinese tech firm ByteDance, has spent more than $500 million to break into online retailing. The app, best known for its short, comical videos, launched TikTok Shop in August, aiming to sell Chinese products in the U.S. and compete with other Chinese firms like Shein and Temu.

Tik Tok Shop will have three sections, including a live or livestream shopping channel, allowing users to buy while watching influencers promote a product.

This choice was strategic: in the past year, live shopping has become a significant trend in online retailing both in the U.S. and Latin America. While still an evolving technology, in principle, it promises good returns and lower costs.

Chilean Carlos O'Rian Herrera, co-founder of Fira Onlive, an online sales consultancy, told América Economía that live shopping has a much higher catchment rate than standard website retailing. If traditional e-commerce has a rate of one or two purchases per 100 visits to your site, live shopping can hike the ratio to 19%.

Live shopping has thrived in China and the recent purchases of shopping platforms in some Latin American countries suggests firms are taking an interest. In the United States, live shopping generated some $20 billion in sales revenues in 2022, according to consultants McKinsey. This constituted 2% of all online sales, but the firm believes the ratio may become 20% by 2026.

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