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Iranian media fabricated Saudi ‘sex-jihadist’ story

sexjihad_thumbDo they really exist?

Several Iranian state-controlled media last week circulated a story, originally published by Bultan News [1], about a young Saudi woman who allegedly travelled to Syria a few months ago to carry out ‘sex jihad’, where she became pregnant with an Islamist fighter’s child. But Iranian bloggers have now discovered that the story, like many others, was fake.[2]

The woman, named Aïsha, turns out to be a porn actress, and her photo used to illustrate the Bultan article was taken from a pornographic website called xhamster.

Rumours of a so-called ‘sex-jihad’ in Syria, where women travel to the war-torn country to allegedly fulfill the sexual needs of jihadists fighting against Bashar Al-Assad’s regime, have been circulating for over a year now. [2] But concrete, credible evidence – that is not fabrications by pro-regime media outlets – is yet to emerge.

In June 2013, Tunisian journalist Malika Jebari resigned from the Iranian-funded Lebanese TV channel al-Mayadeen after she discovered that the channel was politically motivated and journalists were being asked to “make up stories”, including the sex-jihad one.[4]

In other, related news, images and videos used in recent ‘reports’ by Syrian state-controlled TV channels, such as Sama and Dunya, about opposition fighters allegedly crucifying and mutilating bodies of people in Kassab, north-west Syria, turn out to be scenes from a 2005 Canadian horror film called “Inner Depreavity”.[5] The fabricated story was widely reported by other pro-regime media, notably Hezbollah Lebanon’s Al-Manar TV and the Lebanese channel OTV.



The first mention of ‘sex-jihad’ dates back to December 2012, when a screenshot of a fake tweet attributed to a Saudi Sheikh was widely circulated online. The tweet said: “Muslim women, from the age of 14, are authorised to marry a jihadist for a few hours, then marry other jihadists, in order to strengthen the fighters’ morale and open the door to paradise.”

Sheikh Mohamed al-Arefe, a Salafist theologian widely respected among jihadists, denied being the author of the message and stressed that “no such fatwa has ever been posted on my official Facebook or Twitter accounts.” [6] Moreover, the tweet is 200 characters long, well over Twitter’s 140-character limit, so it is definitely fake.

Since then, various pro-Syrian regime media have been circulating stories of women, especially from Tunisia, travelling to Syria for ‘sex-jihad’ and coming back pregnant or ill. But no credible evidence – apart from fake witness accounts and Photoshoped images – has ever been presented.

A speech by the Tunisian interior minister in September 2013 about ‘sex jihad’ re-ignited the story and gave the allegations more weight. But like others, the minister, who is said to be in conflict with the ruling Islamist al-Nahda Party, did not provide any evidence to support his claims.

It is worth noting that there are many Tunisian and other prostitutes working in Syria, like in any other country, and they might well have offered their services to Islamist opposition fighters, or may have even been abused by these. But that’s very different from so-called ‘sex-jihad’.




(the article seems to have been removed since)


[3] See, for example, this France 24 article on the issue:





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