One year ago, the wife of Ayman al-Zawahiri, second in command for al Qaeda, issued a message asking women to raise their children to love holy war and to defend Muslim lands. Omaima Hassan Ahmad Mohammad Hassad said, "I ask you to raise your children to obey Allah and love jihad [holy war] and to defend the Muslim lands...we can place ourselves in service of the mujahedeen and do what they ask of us. We can help by supporting warriors with money or information or even by a martyrdom operation."
But sharia (Islamic law) is very specific about engaging woman for suicide missions and disallows the practice, and al-Zawahiri said in April of 2008 in an Internet recording that the terrorist group does not have women. A woman's role is limited to caring for the homes and children of Al Qaeda fighters. However, on December 26, 2010, a female suicide bomber detonated herself at a food distribution point operated by the World Food Programme. It's speculated that the suicide bomber was in a burqa, which is a traditional full-body covering worn by some Muslim women, and that she was stopped for a security check at a checkpoint, where she detonated herself. Officials are claiming that this was the first instance of a female suicide bomber in Pakistan.
Furthermore, in a book written by al-Zawahiri in the early 1990's titled, The Bitter Harvest: The [Muslim] Brotherhood in Sixty Years, he claims that democracies abolish man's dominion over women. According to al-Zawahiri, "Men have authority over women, for Allah has made the one superior over the other. But in a democracy, women have the right to emulate the dignity and legal status of men. Such are the fruits of equality -- the essence of democracy: for man's dominion over women contradicts the concept of equality...the principals of democracy confront the commands of the sharia in direct opposition." But this recent bombing presents a dilemma for al-Zawahiri and sharia.
If al-Zawahiri's explanations for women are binding, then a female suicide bomber is considered being on equal footing with a male counterpart, thus contradicting al-Zawahiri's outlined role of women and his condemnation against democracy. When the female suicide bomber killed over 40 men, women and children in Khar, Pakistan, she violated not only the collective punishment agreement stated by the laws of war in the Geneva Convention (Collective punishment is the punishment of a group of people as a result of the behavior of one or more other individuals or groups. Punishment of a group of people as a result of the behavior of one or more other individuals or groups who may often have no direct association with the other individuals or groups, or direct control over their actions in times of war and armed conflict and results in atrocities is a violation), but she also violated sharia as translated by al-Zawahiri himself. The argument can be made that the ideology behind the atrocities has no guiding principal when it attempts to explain how its people will behave or be governed, much like an anarchist government.