Female Converts to Islam on the Rise, Some Counterrorism Officials Concerned

December 27, 2005

Source: The Christian Science Monitor


On December 27, 2005 The Christian Science Monitor reported, "Ms. [Mary] Fallot is a recent convert to Islam. In the eyes of the police, that makes her potentially dangerous. The death of Muriel Degauque, a Belgian convert who blew herself up in a suicide attack on US troops in Iraq last month, has drawn fresh attention to the rising number of Islamic converts in Europe, most of them women... The difficulty, security experts explain, is that while the police may be alert to possible threats from young men of Middle Eastern origin, they are more relaxed about white European women. Terrorists can use converts who 'have added operational benefits in very tight security situations' where they might not attract attention, says Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the Swedish National Defense College in Stockholm. Ms. Fallot, who converted to Islam three years ago after asking herself spiritual questions to which she found no answers in her childhood Catholicism, says she finds the suspicion her new religion attracts 'wounding.' 'For me,' she adds, 'Islam is a message of love, of tolerance and peace.' It is a message that appeals to more and more Europeans as curiosity about Islam has grown since 9/11, say both Muslim and non-Muslim researchers. Although there are no precise figures, observers who monitor Europe's Muslim population estimate that several thousand men and women convert each year. Only a fraction of converts are attracted to radical strands of Islam, they point out, and even fewer are drawn into violence."