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The Vagina Diatribes, Part II: Radical Islamism and Enlightened Demeaning Sexism

Dr. Matthew Crosston



Enlightened Demeaning Sexism (EDS) is an unfortunate amalgamation of the two forms of sexism that come from Ambivalent Sexism Theory – hostile sexism and benevolent sexism. In the briefest of lay terms, hostile sexism reflects deeply adversarial attitudes toward women who are believed to demand special favors because of their gender and vie for power over men while benevolent sexism is a supposedly supportive and kindly view toward women that proclaims their moral superiority over men and thus the need requiring male protection.

Key for the present study is the admission within Ambivalent Sexism Theory that both forms of sexism are rooted in the same gender ideology with ultimately negative consequences. It is this ideological foundation, rooted in a negative judgmental perspective toward women and their place in society, which seems to apply in the worst examples fueling radical Islamic gender ideology.

The supposedly nurturing or protective stereotyping of women in benevolent sexism still ultimately results in the constraining of women’s freedom and the placement of barriers against female power and influence. It is interesting that this has as yet never been applied explicitly to the world of radical Islam. This is perhaps because there is a tendency in the West to assume gender bias in Islam across the board: no one felt the need to assess if there was variation in the way that bias was expressed. Most presume that groups like DAESH, Al-Qaeda, or the Taliban would be some of the most severe examples of hostile sexism. And while it is true that these groups most certainly do provide evidence of HS, what seems to be missing is how their HS is more often than not produced from an ideology rooted firmly within benevolent sexism.

Since women are portrayed by radical Islamists as the more righteous and morally superior gender (regardless of whether women wish to have that designation), any deviation from that elevated status results in severe condemnation. Challenges to these self-imposed gender norms are never met with protection but punishment. Ironically, studies of the negative repercussions of benevolent sexism in the West have up to now been rather under-documented, since the belief is that those effects are more obscure and have only indirect influence. This is not the case within radical Islamic groups, which tie their gender edicts into religiosity with incredibly explicit empirical evidence. The Taliban of Afghanistan in the early 2000s are one of the most vivid examples. A short list of their gender policies included the forbidding of women to work outside the home; the requirement that women be covered head-to-toe anytime they ventured outside in public; the prevention of girls from attending any public schooling; the necessity of male escorts accompanying women at all times when they did need to venture outside of the home; the elimination of certain types of feminine clothing or jewelry; and the application of extremely harsh punishments for fornication and adultery.

Taliban leaders were always quick to say that all such policies were rooted in Islamic law, but the evidentiary foundation of such claims is thin at best. What explains Taliban leadership motivation more powerfully are all of the studies within Ambivalent Sexism Theory. What begins as benevolent sexism to protect the ‘managed superiority’ of women in a dirty world of men turns into an aggressively codified system of violence where gender hierarchy is rigidly enforced. In other words, these policies are better understood through the prejudice, fear, and innate insecurity of modern male leaders issuing bureaucratic decrees. The subjugation of women under Taliban rule was a heinous fusion of benevolent sexist ideology framing and rationalizing a punitive system of hostile sexism. This fusion is ‘enlightened demeaning sexism’ and it seems to be a powerful causal root when analyzing the more egregious examples of radical Islamist gender policies.

This hypothesis is affirmed by previous studies that show both hostile and benevolent sexism at work in potentially radicalizing Islamic males when trying to justify their behavior toward women in society. Studies of Turkish males in 2010 showed that as men’s religious beliefs and practices increased, they were more likely to evaluate ‘traditional’ women positively and view ‘non-conformist’ women as a regression hurting societal values. These views were then subsequently used to justify why men should be dominant over women. This study shows the value in promoting cross-disciplinary investigation: when Turkish society and domestic politics are considered, lensed through the historical legacy of governmental secularism, it becomes important to consider that ‘intensive religious instruction’ in Turkey amongst males will tend to be more conservative and traditionalist, as it exists as a perceived counterbalance to the government’s supposedly hyper-anti-religious stance. As a result, the ‘religious ideology’ being pushed is not so much a generic version of Islam but one that is highly radicalized and gendered in favor of male hierarchy and the subordination of women. Once again, this time in Turkey, EDS is presented as being rooted in religious doctrine but is better understood through contemporary male leadership voicing discomfort about the ‘modern woman.’

This phenomenon of ‘masking modern masculine discomfort behind a veil of rationalizing religiosity’ can be traced, quite honestly, all the way back to the Prophet Muhammad himself. While it has long been established the many ways in which Muhammad was sympathetic to and supportive of women, there were societal constraints on that support during his lifetime: very few women were given leading roles or heavy decision-making power in the conveyance of new traditions. Few women could be openly active in public affairs, resulting in a de facto exclusion/seclusion of women that would ultimately become deeply consequential after the Prophet’s death. While many will point to the fact that Muhammad relegated his wives to a space separate from normal societal interaction with men, allowing them to converse directly only when a curtain separated them (purdah), the reality is that the institutionalization of the principle of seclusion only blossomed after Muhammad’s death. His successors brought about the codification of such laws and declared them as divine revelation. While the actual divinity of such edicts can be hopelessly debated, what is almost irrefutable is the notion that such edicts clearly reflected the dominant attitude of contemporary male leadership after Muhammad’s death. Thus, the tradition of justifying what is largely a societal male conceit with decorative religious argumentation goes all the way back to the founding of Islam (and can indeed be found in nearly every religion on earth). Over time this has been manipulated by those looking to establish their own gendered dominance in the face of advancing feminist progress.

Arguably the most virulent expression of EDS within radical Islam comes from the various interpretations and debates that have existed about the concept of jihad and the role women should or should not have in it. Most standard interpretations have jihad as a classically male pursuit when expressed as the need to fight and sacrifice for Allah. The female version is more often traditionally expressed as a righteous pilgrimage to Mecca. Shi’ite tradition is also hesitant to grant women an explicit physical role in jihad: while man’s duty is to sacrifice his wealth and blood until he is killed in the path of Allah, a woman’s jihad is to endure suffering at the hands of her husband and his jealousy of her. Thus whether Sunni or Shia it makes no difference: jihad is a clearly gendered, two-tiered system that establishes male dominance and increased value while putting women on a lower path.

Even more interesting (and another example of EDS) are the early books on jihad, which basically have jihad fighters the equivalent of the living dead: they should not be married or have families and are meant to see women as a sinful attraction tying them improperly to the temporal world when their focus should only be on Allah and heavenly reward. In other words, all of the fundamental comforts of home – marriage, sex, living with a woman – were supposed to be rejected by the fighter. Texts can be found on ‘marriage ceremonies’ taking place on the battlefield between Muslim soldiers and the women of paradise (houris). The most defiant and incredulous text codifying this tradition comes from the 15th century Ibn al-Nahhas al-Dumyati:

If you say [wanting to avoid jihad]: my heart is not comfortable parting from my wife and her beauty, the companionship I have close to her and my happiness in touching her – even if your wife is the most beautiful of women and the loveliest of the people of her time, her beginning is a small drop [of sperm] and her end is a filthy corpse. Between those two times, she carries excrement, her menstruation denies her to you for part of her life, and her disobedience to you is usually more than her obedience. If she does not apply kohl to her eyes, they become bleary, if she does not adorn herself she becomes ugly, if she does not comb her hair it is disheveled, if she does not anoint herself her light will be extinguished, if she does not put on perfume she will smell bad and if she does not clean her pubes she will stink. Her defects will multiply, she will become weary, when she grows old she will become depressed, when she is old she will be incapacitated – even if you treat her well, she will be contemptuous towards you.

The shocking violence of the above passage is not an implication that all Muslim men feel this way or that modern thinkers on jihad return to this admittedly popular classical text. What matters is how enlightened demeaning sexism dominates and how it seems to form a foundation for extreme male thinking within radical Islam. More importantly, it must be recognized that it is the gender of the thinkers and not their religious identity that is powering their thinking. Whether it is hostile, benevolent, or an amalgamation of the two, the sexism found dominating the perceptions and attitudes of men following radical Islam are always decorated with religious ideas but not truly informed by them. This trend only increases when the legacy of ‘male misinterpretation’ is examined across other aspects of radicalized Islamic tradition. Thus, in the end, the efforts to combat violent gender extremism must not focus on factors like culture, geography, and religion to the detriment of the overarching primary causal factor of gender, of maleness mutated by a supposed benevolence that is used to justify oppression.

MD Executive Vice Chairman Dr. Matthew Crosston is Director over all Intelligence Programs at the American Military University and Professor of Global Security and Strategic Intelligence. His work in full can be accessed at:

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Transnational Crimes in the Maritime Realm

Zaeem Hassan Mehmood



Maritime trafficking routes closely follow the commercial shipping lanes. The modalities, technologies and strategies put into place by criminals are often times more sophisticated in caliber than those used in regulated trade. The vast expanses of the sea, the complexity of the maritime transportation system, the immense volume of cargo transferred at each port, and the limited capacity for inspections of cargo creates opportunity for criminals. Seaborne trade in the maritime realm follows a defined set of “sea lines of communication” based on currents and weather. Because of the robustness of shipping and mass amounts of cargo moved, traffickers utilize the same shipping industry routes with great effect. Shipping and sea lanes tend to offer anonymity for criminals, whereas their activities can be hidden behind legitimate industries. Criminal activity, especially illicit trade in narcotics, humans, and weapons, has become so extensive that it is difficult according to various studies to rule out implications of states and corporations in the criminal enterprise.

Individuals from various nationalities, followed by multiple vessels flagged to different states, adds the UN Drug Trade Report 2019, are used in the networks which transit the waters of various states and call at different ports before reaching their final destination. Despite the abundance of laws designed to combat illicit trafficking and an apparent impetus to stop specific types of crime, government’s remains only marginally successful in preventing the global flow of illegal goods due to the overwhelming volume and complexity of the markets for illicit trade. Working in tandem, the maritime forces nevertheless have made successful efforts to disrupt the illicit supply chains as a result of sea-based security operations; cooperation and collaboration between law enforcement organizations.

Nevertheless, legal complexity arises as the high seas “fall outside the jurisdiction of any single state” under the United National Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). The ocean space is to be collectively policed by all states governed by principles of Freedom of navigation. Piracy and the illicit trafficking of narcotics, humans, and weapons comprise the main varieties of transnational crime. UNCLOS addresses these matter of concern in the realm of the sea, where various articles provide guidance in order to curb or limit the threats. Article 110 expounds the customary rule that warships may “approach and visit” on the high seas “any ship that is suspected of piracy, human trafficking, unauthorized broadcasting; and is without nationality”; or, “is flying a foreign flag or refusing to show its flag.” Article 111 addresses the right of “hot pursuit”, allowing warships of one state to follow a vessel through the different maritime zones of the ship if based on “reasonable grounds,” it is suspected of illegal activity.

Narcotics Trafficking

UNCLOS under Article 108 empowers states to cooperate and offer assistance to suppress drug trafficking by other state-flagged vessels. Traditionally, drug traffickers used overland routes, but since last two decades, they have shifted transportation into the “Indo-Pacific Ocean”. The majority of this trafficking has proliferated in the littoral regions, and often within territorial waters. In the latter years, advancement in technologies, providing for larger ships have allowed traffickers to move further into the sea to capitalize “blue water” areas, outside the 12-nautical mile mark and at times further than the 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of any country. It is a documented fact that U.S. is the world’s largest consumer of illegal drugs, also according to various studies the source and transit zones of drug trafficking between South America and the U.S despite high patrols on the border.

Piracy and Armed Robbery at Sea

Piracy has been one of the most ancient forms of maritime crime that is treated rigorously under the provisions of UNCLOS. Article 101 defines piracy as “any illegal act of violence or detention, any act of depredation, committed for private ends by the crew or passengers of a private ship or private aircraft on the high seas against another ship or aircraft, outside the jurisdiction of any state.” The latter parts highlights an important aspect that piracy is a type of transnational crime conducted by non-state actors in international waters. Article 105 of UNCLOS grants everystate the authority to seize any vessel, associated property and to arrest any persons engaged in piracy. Domestic courts of the state conducting the seizure have the mandate prosecute the pirates under domestic law and determine what to do with the vessels; however, to date the courts remain inadequate or unsupported in many places.

Piracy became a security issue of international concern since the last decade and half, primarily in the Horn of Africa, Gulf of Aden, and the Red Sea largely due to weak patrolling and sea blindness by the littoral states of the region. However, to an extent order at sea has been maintained with the presence Combined Task Force-151(CTF-151), focused on counter-piracy, and Combined Task Force-150 (CTF-150) to combat illicit activities at sea. Supported by several U.N. Security Council Resolutions, these task forces have “engaged with regional partners to build capacity and improve capabilities to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation.” 

Piracy in the Asia-Pacific remains a matter of concern, however most of the incidents are underreported and those reported are of such small scale that they cloud the assessment of major piracy events. In the region, although piracy has been contained in the eastern region of Africa whereas it has proliferated in the western Africa around the Gulf of Guinea. This subject-matter experts conclude is a result of an increased trafficking in narcotics from Latin America, along with the various other illicit elements involving illegal fishing and human trafficking. The increased in piracy is a reminder for states that piracy remains a persistent and widespread challenge to maritime security. The recent activities in Somalia and Yemen foreshadow a resurgence of piracy in the region, encouraged by trafficking of light weapons and small arms, along with non-state actor’s unprecedented access to ship monitoring, tracking devices, and use of unmanned systems and long range communications.


United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) identifies only certain types of transnational crime that affect maritime security, but there are many varieties and combinations of criminal activity that affect security and safety from the high seas to internal waters. Domestic laws however need be brought in line with international law, and cooperative partnerships between the states, law enforcement, and militaries to combat illicit activity needs to transcend the morass of politics that are often a hurdle in the way of more comprehensive legal regimes. It is recommended that information and intelligence sharing, along with TTPs (tactics, techniques, and procedures) need to be employed by the maritime forces to ensure freedom of the seas. UNCLOS provides a strong framework and multilateral efforts to deter criminal activity at sea for a more secure, safer operating environment for all. However, it is the difficulty in effective prosecution and applying of an equitable punishment to the culprits, involved in piracy, human trafficking and illicit drugs that must serve as a reminder to all states that much awaits for an all-inclusive solution.

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Fighting Corporate Espionage by a Counterintelligence Agent

Bob Budahl



Corporate executives must bear the responsibility of today’s evolving corporate world entering into a global community where not only are the exposures to such a wide market area lucrative to an already thriving business, but also to a grave danger of the companies’ trade and technology secrets, systems, financial accounts and much more. No longer is “Security” to the facility and personnel all that is required. Many foreign countries and interests take short cuts to becoming competitive through the theft of trade secrets, products and overt and covert espionage of all sorts. Some of these entities are now facing a growing challenge from United States corporations with safeguarding of commercial information, proprietary information, and economic factors.

Many of the tactics utilized in private sector counterintelligence have much in common with the secrets and information the government does its best to safeguard from theft of foreign governments or non-traditional actor threats. The FBI estimates U.S. Corporations lose over $100 billion annually. There are open and legal methods of collection open that are harmful and a good counterintelligence program should target this as well as illegal activities such as electronic eavesdropping, hacking, etc. Passive counterintelligence tries to curtail what a collector may do through countermeasures, and awareness training. Active counterintelligence will prove beneficial to identify and detect a threat, and will conduct operations including eliminating threats or ongoing targeting. A mitigation policy should be of avail. After an attack it may raise shareholder concern which needs to be quelled quickly. Quick realization of a threat and implementing action promptly and efficiently can stop immeasurable damage.

The leaders in the private sector need to be proactive and realize that it is no longer only local threats they face. The threats can be global and may not only be an economic threat but also a threat to national security. In the U.S. private sector ties to the Defense, Intelligence and other government entities can be vast with a great deal of interplay and interconnectedness. Also, corporations do not employ many of the safeguards put in place by the defense and other government departments. Compartmentation, clearance, and many operations taken for granted in the government aren’t serving the corporate structures well-being at all or as well as it should be. The Economic Espionage Act of 1996, Title 18, Sections 1831 and 1832 of the U.S. Code covers economic espionage and also if they are considered trade theft prosecutions.

Where once economic espionage meant directly infiltrating a company or recruiting an employee within the corporation our biggest challenge today is cyber espionage. In reality secrets and information are stolen often and not even known they were taken. And a much less chance of apprehension. Cybercrimes operate in a stealth mode in many ways, but in a contrast way can be identified and detected and countered with effective counterintelligence methods. The U.S. economy has changed over the past 20 years. “Intellectual capital rather than physical assets now represent the bulk of a U.S. corporation’s value.”

With the growth of cybercrimes including corporate espionage some tips for safeguarding and thwarting foreign hostile intrusions include

Conduct real-time monitoring of networks and retaining access records

Software tools for content mgt., data loss prevention, network forensics

Encrypt data on servers

Utilize multi-factor authentication measures such as biometrics, PINS, passwords

Mobility policy in which measures are developed to oversee which connections can and cannot be made to corporate systems

Limits on social networking

Establish contingency plans

Many others

When deciding to emplace a counterintelligence program to safeguard a corporation the first stepis to conduct a risk assessment by assessing vulnerabilities and estimating the consequences of losing critical assets. This should be headed up by a board member or senior executive.

Then move to step two in which groundwork is laid for establishing a corporate counterintelligence program. Hire a manager dedicated to counterintelligence. Hook up the company’s security, intelligence assurance, general counsel and HR departments. Develop liaison with government law and intelligence. Ensure centralized management of the counterintelligence program. And have legal counsel provide guidance on the counterintelligence program actions.

Identify the Capabilities needed

Threat awareness and training

Analysis, Reporting and Response

Suspicious activity reporting

Counterintelligence Audit

Counterintelligence Investigations.


Implement the Counterintelligence Program

A basic counterintelligence program description will look something like this: PM (Program Manager) interplay such as:

PM develops and implements CI program

PM oversees a centralized CI Program office

PM maintains insight into all corporate elements

PM is responsible for liaison with US Government

Security officers responsible for tactical CI

PM provides CI guidance through training programs

Also be aware that not only high tech companies are targeted since the targeted information they seek may be deemed important by who is doing the shopping.

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Where does allegiance lie?

Bob Budahl



Dongfan “Greg” Chung who is a native of China and a naturalized U.S. Citizen had “secret” security clearance while working with Rockwell and Boeing Corporations on the Space Shuttle project. He had retired in 2002 but returned a year later as a contractor until fall 2006. The government proved Chung committed espionage by taking and concealing Boeing secrets regarding the Delta IV rocket and also the Space Shuttle. He did this for the People’s Republic of China. He was convicted on charges of acting as an agent of the PRC as well as economic espionage.

The investigation of a different engineer working within the U.S is what led to Chung’s investigation and resulting conviction. He was sentenced to more than 24 years in prison.

The Chinese had sent letters requesting information as far back as 1979. In correspondence with the PRC Chung expressed his wishes to help the PRC modernize. He also sent 24 manuals related to the important B-1 Bomberfrom Rockwell Corporation which was very damaging.

Travel trips to the People’s Republic of China occurred on multiple occasions to lecture but he also met with government officials. In letters from his handlers they use his wife Rebecca and Chi Mak to transmit information. In the fall of 2006 FBI and NASA agents searched his home and discovered more than 250,000 documents from Boeing, Rockwell and others which were secret.

The Shuttle Drawing System or “SDS” that Rockwell and Boeing engineers created held information regarding performing processes regarding the Space Shuttle. The engineers need a password and authorization to be able to access this system and files. This is a clear case that defensive counterintelligence measures could have prevented printing, concealment and removal of documents from the workplace. One great example of offensive counterespionage was the search of Chung’s trash which led to much revealing evidence.Also his extensive travel to the PRC was an indicator that his scope of activities while in the PRC were above speaking engagements, seminars, teaching, personal. The authorities did conduct offensive counterintelligence to the best of their abilities once it learned via the other agent implicated in similar dealings with the PRC.

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