Beautiful woman vaping with smoke. Photo: iStock/Getty Images
Beautiful woman vaping with smoke. Photo: iStock/Getty Images

The world of modern warfare surely has had the last laugh.

Do you think you’ve seen it all, experienced it all and lived through it all? If that’s the case, then you might be in for a bit of a surprise. You’ve just been witness to the same old game plan. The renascence is looming large. The reincarnation seems imprecating. The fallout may be vicious than ever. And, guess what, the lure of falling into the trap might be as tempting as it can get.

From ‘Matahari’ to the famous ‘Cindy’, who masterminded Mossad’s operation to get a hold of an Israeli citizen intending to make public the country’s nuclear-sensitive information, the previous century has provided plenty of stuff for the Hollywood directors to cash in on.

In order to survive, you’ve got to evolve; you’ve got to outsmart the rest, and you surely need to alter the strategy from time to time. Osama Bin Laden and Dr. Aymen-al-Zawahiri might not have sensed the need for such an ordeal, but ISIS is surely tapping into it. The organization has actively pursued various strategic options, including the viable, and pretty much effective, online presence.

It seems as if the female presence in IS isn’t seriously looked into. Although, yes, numerically, they constitute only 20% and are often younger in age than their male counterparts, as per a report by the European Union Institute for Security Studies. From captured ‘Yazidi’ to the Asian women who’ve, in the recent times, willingly flown over to Syria and Levant in large numbers, the current trends pose a stark challenge to the entire security apparatus worldwide.

The role of women in Daesh appears nimble. It will grow over time. From what we’ve seen so far, the organization is known for its ‘improvisation.’ What transpired in Bangladesh a couple of weeks ago may have had the strategic thinkers think about the emergence of front-line female jihadists. The threat is imminent and debunking it isn’t an option.

It is no longer about the Jihadi John. Although, yes, the ruthlessness associated thereof is damning enough, yet ‘the bearded guy’ might not be the epitome of IS anymore. It is the ‘White Widow’ the counter-terrorism departments around the globe should be more wary of.

As per the numbers presented by Edwin Bakker and Seran de Leede, about 70 women from Germany have flown over and actively joined ISIS. Around 65 French women have done the same. 30 from the Netherlands, 55 from Belgium, 14 from Austria and 10 from Canada have also opted to fly over to Syria for the obvious reasons. That’s how successful ISIS has been in terms of drawing in women from various parts of the globe- let alone Asia.

It’s War 3.0. It’s an amalgamation of the previous versions. The threat is beyond anything we’ve seen. One may anticipate it, but that’s all about it. The trajectory is the same, yet each itinerary remains distinctively different. When to act is the question, and how to act will determine if you’re going to achieve laurels or get grounded to a halt in no time.

Now, you don’t have a physical identity to deal with. A ‘radicalized’ guy (bearded or clean-shaven) on the street having ‘extremist tendencies’ was, at times, all too easy to locate. Now, with women carrying out the tasks on ground, that seeming apparently tip might not be available. To cater to the squeamishness, something out of the communications security manual might do. ‘Don’t ask-don’t tell.’

The attacker in Istanbul might have disguised himself as ‘Santa’, but don’t be surprised if women start getting a more active role. One can sense it’s coming. It might have even arrived. But, there may still be time to spare.

So, buckle up; embrace yourself for a ‘full battle rattle’, and ensure the ‘Blues Buddies’ know their game inside out.

Shazar Shafqat is a counterterrorism and security analyst, and an award-winning essayist. His research focuses on South Asian security environment, Middle East politics and security issues, counterterrorism strategies and military-related affairs. His commentary on the Af-Pak and Middle East security issues regularly features across renowned media outlets including Middle East Eye, Middle East Monitor, The Diplomat, Asia Times, World Policy Journal, RealClearDefense, Dawn, The News International, The Nation, Daily Times, World Times Magazine, and others.