Jordan belt-bomb couple: How they caught wife
More details coming to light
MOMENTS after the deadly blast shook the Amman SAS Radisson on Wednesday night, Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi ran out of the hotel.
She frantically hailed a cab and rushed back to her rented apartment in the Jordanian capital.
There was blood on the Iraqi woman's clothes.
As she remained holed up in her room, the landlord became suspicious.
During that time, Jordanian police launched a massive hunt for suspects.
|"Fatimah, I'm really suspicious about that woman in 102!"|
"Me, too, Mahmoud. She's got blood all over her and she didn't tip the taxi guy."
The Al-Qaeda in Iraq claimed that a husband and wife team were among the bombers - but police found only three male attackers' bodies.
|"Calling all cars! Be on the lookout for a woman with blood all over her! That is all!" |
So word went out that the authorities were looking for a woman. That's when the landlord called the police.
|"Any luck yet, Dr. Quincy?"|
"Not yet, Sam. All of these guys have doinkers."
"Well, that's all the pieces they could find."
"Something doesn't add up, Sam!"
Two days before the blasts, an Iraqi man approached the husband of landlady Umm Mahmoud al-Fayoumi, asking to rent a basement apartment for himself, his wife and two other Iraqi men in their building. Said Madam Mahmoud, 47: ''They said they were here to receive fertility treatment.
|"Hello? Police? There's a woman staying in my spare room. She's covered with blood and keeps hollering 'Out, out, damned spot!'" |
"I remember asking myself, 'If that's the case, who were the two other men and why were they here?' ''
|"I mean, with a face like she's got, we just can't get the room dark enough to conceive, if you know what I mean..." |
It was one of at least two apartments that the group rented in Tlaa' Ali, a middle-class area with a large Iraqi community. Sajida was caught in the second apartment rented by the group. On 9 Nov, the four Iraqis caught taxis to their targets. They would end up killing 60 at three different hotels. The apparent leader of the cell was Sajida's husband, Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari. Wearing 10 kg explosives-packed belts wrapped around their waists, the couple entered the Radisson, which did not have metal detectors at the entrance.
|"Oh, them? They're here to shove me into the bedroom." |
They lingered outside the Philadelphia Ballroom, where Mr Ashraf Akhras and his bride, Nadia, were celebrating their wedding with some 300 Jordanian and Palestinian guests. They drew the suspicion of a hotel clerk, who asked what they were looking for. Ali Hussein replied that they were Iraqis and had never seen a Jordanian wedding party and asked if they could have a look, the security official said, citing witnesses and video camera footage obtained from blast site.
|I can remember the days of my lost youth, when a statement like that wouldn't have elicited a mental "Why not?" |
Once inside, they staked out different parts of the ballroom. Ali Hussein took up position on the right, where men were sitting in the gathering, which was segregated in line with conservative Islamic tradition.
|Interesting. They didn't just walk in on the wedding party at random; they actually wormed their way in. |
He was talking on his handphone constantly, witnesses told police.
|So they knew damned well it wasn't a Christian or Jewish or Buddhist or what-have-you wedding... |
His wife, meanwhile, found a seat on the left, near chatting women and a handful of playing children. But when the moment arrived for her to trigger her explosives belt, there was a problem. She gestured to her husband that it wouldn't explode.
|Hope they can trace that call, might have just been to one of the other boomers to coordinate their strikes though|
The couple met up near the doorway to the ballroom, and guests told the police they saw the husband angrily gesture towards the woman, telling her to leave.
|"Honey? It's busted. I think we should take it back to the store." |
As she moved towards the door, the lights went out and her husband jumped up onto a nearby dining table and detonated his belt, sending the ceiling crashing down and spraying ball-bearings across the room. It was not clear why the lights went out just before the blast, which killed at least 36 people, including the fathers of the bride and groom.
|"If you ain't gonna explode then beat it!" |
In a televised confession aired after her arrest four days later, Sajida said, ''My husband detonated (his bomb), I tried to explode (my belt) but it wouldn't.'' After running out to the street, Sajida hailed a taxi and told the driver to head to her apartment, but was confused about the address. She was able to navigate by landmarks to the second apartment rented by the group. When she was caught, the unexploded vest was still with her.
|I'd guess that hubby was talking to a controller or accomplice, who cut the power as a signal. That'd imply he/she/it was in the room, by the light switches, or in the basement, next to the breaker box. My guess would be the latter. In either case, it would imply that the wedding (and likely some of its guests) was the target, which'd mean Debka was right again.|
Between the attacks and her capture, however, Sajida tried to find an escape, getting in contact with the family of her sister's Jordanian husband, Nidal Arabiyat. Nidal was the chief bomb-maker for Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, Al-Qaeda's leader in Jordan. He was killed last year fighting US troops. Sajida's two brothers were killed in US operations. It's said she was seeking revenge for their deaths.
|I wonder if she was still wearing it, hoping it would work? |
Posted by: Steve 2005-11-16