As regular armies increasingly place women soldiers in the line of fire, insurgents and terrorists are also stepping up their use of women. Iraqi police in the city of Baqouba yesterday questioned a girl wearing a suicide bomber vest in front of reporters. The girl, who gave her first name as Rania and claimed to have been born in 1993, admitted in a separate interview that she was fitted with the explosives by female relatives of her husband — a family believed to have links to al-Qaida.
Officials said the police, who released video footage of the interrogation, wanted to “show the desperate level al-Qaida has reached, with members of one family driving each other to death”. US commanders believe al-Qaida in Iraq is exploiting women unable to deal with the grief of losing husbands, children and others to the violence.
The number of female bombers in Iraq has more than tripled since last year, rising from eight to 29, compared with only four in 2005 and 2006 combined. On August 14, a woman suicide bomber struck a group of Shi’ite pilgrims south of Baghdad, killing at least 17 people and wounding dozens of others. On July 28, four female suicide bombers struck at a Shi’ite pilgrimage in Baghdad and a Kurdish protest rally in northern Iraq, killing at least 57 people and wounding nearly 300. Many Iraqi women wear long robes and policemen are reluctant to pat them down at checkpoints because of cultural taboos.
Raina appears to have attracted suspicion by the way she was walking; police said she seemed drugged. She told them she did not intend to blow herself up. “No, no, they put it on me and told me to take it off at home. They did not tell me to explode myself.” ~ Telegraph (UK), August 25