Center for Strategic Communication

The al Qaeda-linked Turkistan Islamic Party is actively training female recruits to wage jihad in South and Central Asia.

A short, one-minute-long video by the Turkistan Islamic Party shows five burka-clad women training with pistols, assault and sniper rifles, machine guns, and grenade launchers. A male trainer is seen directing the women. The Turkistan Islamic Party’s distinctive light blue flag is seen flying in the background.

The video was first obtained by The Sunday Times and was shared with The Long War Journal. It was produced by Islam Awazi, the Turkistan Islamic Party’s official media outlet.

Although the location of the training camp was not disclosed, the video was likely filmed in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal agency of North Waziristan. The Turkistan Islamic Party is known to host training camps in the tribal agency, particularly in the Mir Ali area.

In the past, the Turkistan Islamic Party has also released videos of children training to wage jihad.

The video of the female recruits highlights an increasing trend by jihadists in the Afghan-Pakistan region to use females to conduct attacks. The Long War Journal has recorded six female suicide attacks in Pakistan and three more in Afghanistan since 2010. The last such attack took place on April 21 at the entrance to a hospital in Khar in Pakistan’s tribal agency of Bajaur.

These female suicide attacks have been executed by the Afghan Taliban, the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, and the Hizb-i-Islami Gulbuddin. Prior to 2010, no female suicide attacks were reported in the region.

Qari Zia Rahman, a Taliban commander who also is a member of al Qaeda, is known to run suicide training camps for females in the Afghan-Pakistan region. The US military has been hunting Qari Zia in northeastern Afghanistan since at least 2010, but he has dodged the raids.