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Oct 14th, 2008

Iraqi Female Suicide Bombers — No Longer Shocking

AFP — Getty Images file
In this police handout picture, an Iraqi policeman attempts to unwrap an Iraqi woman’s suicide vest after she surrendered in Baqouba on Aug.24, 2008.

By Carla Marcus
NBC News Producer

October 13, 2008

BAGHDAD — Attacks carried out by female suicide bombers have become as common an occurrence here as roadside bombings, political assassinations and public mourning. No longer do I react with surprise when I hear about an explosion triggered by a woman.

Just last week on Oct. 8, a young woman in Baqouba blew herself up in front of a courthouse — killing 10 people and injuring 17. She was wearing an abaya, a traditional black robe, which allows explosive devices to be easily concealed. According to the doctor who examined the remains of her body, she may have been as young as 14.

A day earlier, Iraqi authorities in the same region arrested a 38-year-old woman named Ibtisam Edwan, suspected of recruiting females to become suicide bombers — including a 15-year-old who gave her first name as Rania and turned herself in to Iraqi police in August. In extensive video footage released by Iraqi police, she was wearing an explosives-laden vest at the time of her arrest, but denied that she planned to stage a suicide attack.

Although violence in Iraq is down overall, the spate of attacks perpetrated by women is certainly on the rise. By NBC News’ tabulation, the Baqouba courthouse attack last week was the 31st suicide bombing involving a woman to take place this year. By comparison, eight occurred in 2007, and a total of four in 2005 and 2006, according to U.S. military officials. …

Why women?

What motivates a woman to carry out a deadly strike? Certainly many of the women are determined to avenge the deaths of loved ones.

Islam Online featured an interview this summer with Um Mustafa, a 41-year-old woman who was training to become a suicide bomber. After her husband and two children were killed in the U.S. offensive in Fallujah in 2004, Mustafa approached members of al-Qaida in Iraq and stated, “I will give my life to God wherever my leader tells me to do so.”

However women may also turn to violence as a result of feeling depressed, or lacking a sense of purpose after the loss or detention of a family member. And terror experts also point out that as al-Qaida’s network weakens in Iraq, it has turned to recruiting more women to keep its cause alive. …


Previous report

Iraq — An Emerging Threat (scroll down at link)

Farhana Ali and Jerrold Post, ISPP meeting, Sciences Po, Paris, July 12, 2008.
Farhana Ali (RAND Corporation) and Jerrold M. Post, M.D. (George Washington University) at a counterterrorism panel at the International Society of Political Psychology meeting in Paris, July 12, 2008.


Security Developments in Iraq

Following are security developments in Iraq on Monday, Oct. 13, 2008 as reported by Reuters.

MOSUL – A car bomb killed two prison security guards on Sunday in western Mosul. Two other guards and a civilian were also wounded, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen stormed the house of a policeman and killed him on Sunday in Mosul, police said.

MOSUL – Gunmen stormed a shop, killing the owner, a Christian man in his 50s, and wounding his nephew on Sunday evening in eastern Mosul, 240 miles north of Baghdad, police said.

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