- Associated Press - Friday, December 24, 2010

BAGHDAD (AP) — An Iraqi man killed his 19-year-old daughter after he discovered al Qaeda had recruited her as a suicide bomber in an area north of Baghdad, a police spokesman said on Friday.

Al Qaeda has been recruiting women for suicide attacks because they can pass police checkpoints easier than men by concealing explosives under an abaya, a loose, black cloak that conservative Muslim women wear. Suicide bombers have been al Qaeda’s most lethal weapon in Iraq, killing hundreds of civilians and members of Iraq’s security forces.

The killing of the young woman was discovered when security forces, searching for her on suspicion she had ties to al Qaeda, raided her father’s home Thursday outside the former Sunni-insurgent stronghold of Baqouba, 35 miles (60 kilometers) northeast of Baghdad, said Maj. Ghalib al-Karkhi, a police spokesman in Diyala province.

The father, Najim al-Anbaky, was detained in the raid. During questioning he told police he had killed his daughter, Shahlaa, a month earlier because he found out she intended to blow herself up in a suicide attack for al Qaeda, al-Karkhi told The Associated Press.

Al-Anbaky showed police what he said was the woman’s grave, al-Karkhi said. The father remains in custody and is under investigation, but no charges have been made yet.

A police official at the interior ministry in Baghdad confirmed the killing. He spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

A female suicide bomber was behind one of the deadliest attack this year in Iraq, after she blew herself up among Shiite pilgrims Baghdad in February, killing 54 people.

In a separate incident Friday, a Shiite militia leader, his wife and three children were killed in a bomb attack on their home south of Baghdad.

The early morning blast leveled the militia leader’s home in Haswa, some 30 miles (50 kilometers) south of the capital, Babil province police spokesman Maj. Muthana Khalid said. Four people were also wounded in the blast.

A local policeman, Abdul-Salam al-Maamouri, identified the dead man as a commander in the Mahdi Army, the militia loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The militia terrorized Sunni neighborhoods during the height of Iraq’s sectarian fighting in 2006 and 2007, and its fighters have been targets of retribution.