Thursday, July 31, 2008

Love, blackmail and rape - How al-Qaeda groomswomen as perfect weapons

Thanks for the heads-up on this story posted at ACT! for, from Isabelle's Corner - One of her top picks for July 29.

From the Times on Line at

July 30, 2008
Love, blackmail and rape – how al-Qaeda grooms women as ‘perfect weapons’ (OR HOW WOMEN ARE EQUAL TO MEN IN ISLAM) Deborah Haynes in Baladruz, Diyala

Read Deborah Haynes's blog: Inside Iraq:

A woman pretending to be pregnant walks up to a hospital in one of Iraq’s most dangerous regions and blows herself up.

Minutes later a man, also laden with explosives, attacks the rescue workers who rushed to the scene in Diyala province, north of Baghdad. Thirty-two people are killed and 52 wounded.

The co-ordinated bombings that ripped through the town of Baladruz in May are one of twelve attacks involving thirteen women suicide bombers to strike Diyala so far this year – a huge jump, signalling a new tactic by insurgents. US officials suspect that al-Qaeda has built a network of cells that recruit women and turn them into killers.

Women are the perfect weapon in a country where it is frowned upon culturally for a man even to approach a woman without her husband or father in tow, let alone frisk her for weapons at one of the many checkpoints that are the bombers’ favourite targets. In addition, it is easy to hide a vest packed with explosives under the traditional Islamic robes worn by women in Iraq without drawing suspicion.

In total, there have been 24 attacks involving women suicide bombers since January, including four on Monday in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk that left scores dead. Al-Qaeda is “a very adaptive enemy”, a US Special Forces captain based in Diyala said. “They will try to use whatever works best for them to attempt to exploit whatever political or cultural restrictions we have.”

In the past, al-Qaeda fighters have used mosques to hold meetings and hide weapons, knowing that the US military will not raid religious buildings. “Now they’ve adapted to try to use female suicide bombers.”

The military believes that al-Qaeda employs a variety of tactics to get women to become suicide bombers. Some are easy prey because their husband or children have been killed or detained by US forces, said Captain Matthew Shown, the intelligence officer for “Sabre Squadron”, 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment, which is based in southeast Diyala.

Another method is for a member of al-Qaeda to marry a woman and then dishonour her in some way, such as letting someone else rape her. “This would leave her with no choice but to end her life,” Captain Shown, 34, said.

There are also reports of women being told that their husband or child will be killed unless they agree to become suicide bombers.


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