The woman who blew herself up with a suicide bomb during a police raid in Paris on Wednesday has been identified as Hasna Ait Boulahcen, cousin of purported Paris attacks ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud who was also killed during the raid. Neighbors acquainted with Boulahcen described her as friendly, defiant but easily influenced, slightly crazy and lost. They said she drank and used drugs and enjoyed partying before later becoming radicalized, and one neighbor named Karim said he was told by a friend in August that Boulahcen revealed she was “going to Syria to do the Jihad.” She earned the nickname “Cowgirl” due to her affinity for being photographed wearing cowboy hats. The last time Karim recalled having seen Boulahcen was three weeks ago. Mia Bloom, Professor at the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at UMass Lowell, says that Boulahcen fits an extremist profile that is sadly typical. “There are two kinds of women that ISIS is going after,” says Bloom. “They go after very young Muslim girls who are straight-A students and very high achieving, but they also go after much older women who have a past, that by joining the group they can reinvent themselves and be a good girl now. And they really do overcompensate.”
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