Recent chatter on jihadi forums points to a new organized death squad in Iraq. The new group is allegedly composed of Shiite female assassination units that will target Sunnis. Sunni jihadi websites have warned their followers about this new threat, saying that these female units, called al-Zahra groups after Fatima al-Zahra, the daughter of the Prophet and the wife of the Muslim caliph Ali, are trained to kill Sunnis with bayonets and handguns equipped with silencers (http://www.tajdeed.org.uk, November 4).
On one Islamic website, a user by the name of Asad Misir (Egyptian Lion), posted a warning that the al-Mahdi Army’s and Mahmudiya’s Hussainiats (club-like meeting institutions for Shiite social and religious activities) have formed al-Zahra female groups to kill Sunni men and women and that these Iraqi female assassins are headed to Baghdad to carry out their missions. The assassins in the al-Zahra groups will pose as Sunnis and claim that Shiites dispelled them from southern Iraq. The killings will be executed either by handguns equipped with silencers or by bayonets, Asad Misir explained. Furthermore, the members of each group will consist of only females in some cases, and a mixture of males and females in others. Most of the fighters are probably ex-convicts who served sentences in Abu Ghraib prison and will carry false documents to conceal their identities. The jihadi websites are warning Sunnis, especially women and children, of the imminent threat posed by these Shiite assassination units. Sunnis are reacting to the Shiites’ threat by accusing Shiite men of cowardice for making their women face the mujahideen (http://www.hanein.net, November 4).
One individual, posting on a jihadi forum about this issue, accused Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani of blasphemy for issuing fatwas that contradict Sunni Salafi ideology. This individual then posted a link to a video clip of an Iranian female police training unit, comparing the police squad to the al-Zahra group. As part of the video, women clad in the chador rappel down a building. Later, they shoot semi-automatic guns while hanging out of a car window during a vehicular pursuit (http://www.savefilez.com/922646). The purpose of the posting was to insinuate that Iranians had trained the al-Zahra units. In the same context, another Sunni user, Khaled al-Rawi, said that the Shiites’ current attack potential is a repeat of the Shiite attacks that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s against Sunnis. At the time, Shiite party al-Dawa al-Safawia organized and trained prostitutes to blow up cars and to assassinate Sunni figures and civilians in Iraq (http://www.iraqirabita.org, November 2). The website also contained pictures of Shiite females covered completely in black similar to the Iranian female police training video.
It is common knowledge that the first spark of the latest global conflict between the Sunni majority and the Shiite minority started in Iraq. The perception that each side is waging a war against the other has existed ever since. Although the conflict between the two sects is ideological, Sunni ideologues like Salman al-Odeh, a more mainstream Salafi ideologue, have been releasing warnings lately of the fast spreading Shiite political phenomenon that holds allegiance to Iran. Therefore, if these new assassination units truly exist, they will only exacerbate inter-sectarian tensions.