Three young Chechen women who reportedly conned ISIS out of plane fare by posing as prospective jihadi brides are under arrest and facing prosecution for cheating the black-clad terrorist army out of $3,300.
The women phished in their gullible would-be hosts, creating fake social media accounts and letting the terrorists believe they were willing to leave their homes and families for Syria. Once ISIS militants had sent the funds, the women promptly deleted their accounts and pocketed the money, according to Russian news organization Moskovsky Komsomolets. But despite ISIS being an international scourge, prosecutors in Chechnya are looking to put the screws to the clever con-women.
“I don’t advise anyone to communicate with dangerous criminals, especially for grabbing quick money,” Officer Valery Zolotaryov told Moskovsky Komsomolets, also noting this kind of scam is unprecedented in Chechnya.
“It could be argued that this shows that the Islamic State is confident in its ability to secretly transfer funds, but the more simple and realistic explanation is that Islamic State men are still men and our judgment can be undermined by attraction.”
- Ryan Mauro, Clarion Project
The women face fraud charges, and up to six years in prison.
The fearless trio got their recruiters to wire the money through anonymous transfers, but pocketed the money instead. ISIS, which has lured tens of thousands of foreign fighters from around the globe, as well as hundreds or even thousands of women to serve as brides, apparently wrote off the money. But Chechen police are treating the women, whose names were not released, like criminals.
While the money transfer appears to have been a ruse all along, one of the women told Life News she actually considered following through until she thought about others who had made the trip.
“Many people I know did go, but I know no one for whom it turned out well,” she said.
Even a Chechen prison may offer a better life than that of an ISIS bride. Some women who willingly traveled to Syria and escaped to tell of their ordeal have related terrifying stories about being held captive, as well as being sexually abused and brutalized by their husbands. Chechnya is home to a large Muslim population, and its battle-hardened fighters have played a key role in ISIS capture of land for its caliphate in Syria and Iraq.
"By doing this, the women could have a target on their back because they live in a high recruitment area where the Islamic State has recently established [territory]" said Veryan Khan, editorial director for the Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium.
It's a common occurrence for the Islamic State to try to recruit wives online, including American teenagers, said Ryan Mauro, national security analyst for the Clarion Project. Typically the women finance and arrange the travel themselves because of the security risks that financial transactions pose, he said.
“The Islamic State men put themselves and their romantic interests in jeopardy by wiring the money,” Mauro said. “It could be argued that this shows that the Islamic State is confident in its ability to secretly transfer funds, but the more simple and realistic explanation is that Islamic State men are still men and our judgment can be undermined by attraction.”
One of the puzzling questions is why women join misogynistic jihadist groups in the first place, Mauro said.
“The women genuinely believe their oppression is Allah's will and true freedom,” Mauro said. “On multiple occasions, I've seen Islamic State supporters online make the argument that females who cover their faces and bodies free themselves from the West's objectification of women. Their line is that the covering means you're judged and loved for who you are as a person, rather than what you look like.”