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September 27, 2015 4:21 am

A New Type of Palestinian Terrorist — an Arab-Israeli Mother-of-Five Seeking to Join ISIS

avatar by Stephen M. Flatow /

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Mrs. Ayman Kanjou in court. Photo: YouTube/screenshot.

Mrs. Ayman Kanjou in court. Photo: YouTube/screenshot. – Terrorists who get caught before they strike don’t usually attract much attention. But the arrest of Mrs. Ayman Kanjou deserves extra attention, because she defies every stereotype we have ever been taught about Palestinian terrorists.

Men are presumed the most likely to become terrorists, since in Muslim society they are the ones who enjoy various freedoms, while women are sheltered and carefully watched by their husbands or fathers. They didn’t stop Mrs. Kanjou.

Young unmarried men are the ones whom we expect to get caught up in radicalism, since they have the least to lose. A middle-aged woman with small children has a lot to lose. Yet there was Mrs. Kanjou, age 44, mother of five small children, crossing through Turkey last month on her way to join the Islamic State terrorists in Syria.

According to the stereotype, Palestinian terrorists are uneducated drifters. Not so Mrs. Kanjou; she comes from a “respected” family, said Israeli prosecutor Shunit Nimtzan. She is a college graduate (Al-Azhar University in Cairo), which cannot be said about many Muslim women. And not just a B.A.— she has a Ph.D.!

Certainly, a Palestinian terrorist is expected to be impoverished. The whole promise of international aid to the Palestinians is the notion that poverty breeds terrorism. That’s been the main rationale for the more than $11-billion the United States alone has given the Palestinian Authority since 1994. Mrs. Kanjou, who is married to a local imam (Muslim religious leader), had $11,000 in cash with her on her way to join Islamic State. It doesn’t sound to me like a case of poverty causing terrorism.

At the very least, one expects a terrorist to be alienated from his family, a rootless malcontent in search of belonging. Not in Mrs. Kanjou’s case. She has no criminal record. In fact, her father, age 74, actually accompanied her on the trip.

Mrs. Kanjou’s relatives are telling the media that she was “framed.” Not likely. Israeli intelligence intercepted her many communications via Facebook with Islamic State recruiter AbAli Asami. According to the indictment, she “expressed to him her desire to live in Syria within the organization, and asked for his help.” She says she could “teach religion and teach activists and fighters the Sharia to raise the spirits and increase their motivation to fight on behalf of the organization.” She even stated that it she was prepared to do anything the organization asked of her.

At the very least, according to the standard profile, a Palestinian terrorist can be expected to have been raised in of those “extreme” Palestinian cities, where radicalism is common. Not in this case. Mrs. Kanjou is an Israeli Arab. She comes from Shfaram, near Haifa. She was presumed to be loyal to Israel.

Mrs. Kanjou is not alone. Officials of the Shin Bet (Israel’s security agency) were this week quoted as saying that more than 40 Israel Arabs have joined Islamic State since 2013. Just last month, two Arabs from Jerusalem were caught on their way to reach Islamic State.

If a woman with small children and the highest level of education, who grew up in an Israel environment with all the benefits and privileges of Israeli citizenship — if such a woman can turn around and try to join Islamic State, what does that tell us?

It tells us that our previous assumptions have to be discarded. That education and a livelihood and material progress are not enough. That territories and settlements are not the real issues. Radical jihadist Islam is alive and well and growing — even among those whom we always suspected least.

Stephen M. Flatow, an attorney in New Jersey, is the father of Alisa Flatow, who was murdered in a Palestinian terrorist attack in 1995.

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  • James Rea

    You do have to ‘disregard’ any so called denominators or possible reasons or any socio-educational presumptions about who is, or can become a terrorist, especially when it comes to Islam. When individual Muslims commit to what is seen as a more ‘radical’ approach to Islamic domination of the World, stop theorising, as there is no other individual or multiple scenario’s to consider!
    Consider only just the simple fact that a Muslim is just that, a Muslim, a totally insular and bigoted human who is against any other of G.d’s human’s on this wonderful Earth, and they will all do anything to achieve their bigoted aims!

  • Its very Important to understand that an ideology doesnt have boundaries or social class.An individual can change from night to day, there’s something in his o her mind that psychologically trigers that thinking. I will call that something ” psychological ideology pressure”.ISIS has been successful in doing this more than Alquaeda has does in the past. They have been using the media and internet in a powerful way,sensationalism with their brutal executions and their propaganda runs around the world in minutes. Someone very professional is also behind media and internet propaganda. Also those financing their campaign are very useful their rapid growth. You kill ten ISIS jihadist and twenty are been recruited in an instance.They are successful in using all means of communication to get their message across. The question is, can you kill or eliminate an idea with Bombs and guns? You might disuade them for a while but the idea is still there. In conclusion, as long an ideology lives and has transcended all boundaries no one can stop it. Rome try to stop Christianity, but they kill a hundred Christians and five thousand were converting to Christianity at same time. It just took twelve illiterate men(most of them) to convert the whole world, Rome ended converting to Christianity. Now saying this, its something that all nations should worry about. Either they convert you or they kill you.

  • Stop whatever kind of assistance she receives from the State of Israel. Truth to tell, I’d help her go, on condition that the 5 children were left in Israel to be properly raised & educated. Clearly, she can’t be bothered with them and their welfare.

  • She clearly is exceptional. It proves that any group can be penetrated by radical and destructive ideas but some with greater difficulty than others. One swallow does not make a summer and as far as possible profiling should continue bearing in mind its limitations.

  • Daniel Remler

    This is another great article by you Mr Flatow. Thanks for your continuing efforts!

  • Felix

    If you continue to be intransigent with the other people, if you keep on saying that only Jews are by birth, doesn’t matter how good a person may feel about eating well and being muslin educated, it always be the resentment in their hearts. Jews be sincere love people, preach the salvation in the messiah and open your heart to the spirit of Jehova.

  • John Rowan

    Give her life sentence to set example

  • Constant messages from mosques, media, schools, and Arab/Islamic societies teach hatred for Israel/Jews.

    My friend volunteered in an assisted-living home in Israel and saw Arab aides taking packages of cookies, etc. from supply closets. She told the head nurse.

    The nurse said to let them take the items. She’d rather have them do that than slap or pinch patients.

    Hatred abounds – no gender or status matters.

  • The article states that the US has given $11 billion in aid to the Palestinians since 1994. The amount is actually $5 billion in aid, with restrictions on how the money may be used.

  • The issue is clear cut. There should be no mystery as to why these people are joining the IS. According to sharia law, once a califate has been declared and can be seen to control a defined territory, it is incumbent on every muslim to join it in order to be able to fulfill all areas of sharia law which can only be achieved within a caliphate. And while I’m at it, its about time to get rid of these modifiers like “radical” or “moderate”. There is only Islam.

  • ► Israe is a pain in the åss

  • Art frank

    It tells us there are many evil people in this world. And many of them are Muslims and Arabs. And they need to be excised like a tumor from society.