- The Washington Times - Monday, November 14, 2005

AMMAN, Jordan — An Iraqi woman who was arrested yesterday went on television wearing a disabled explosives belt and confessed to trying to blow herself up with her husband in one of three suicide attacks last week.

The 35-year-old woman — the sister of a deputy to Abu Musab Zarqawi who was killed by U.S. forces — appeared on Jordanian state TV hours after being captured by security forces.

Authorities said they were tipped off by al Qaeda’s own self-promoting claim that a husband-and-wife team participated in Wednesday’s bombings, which killed 57 persons.

Looking nervous and wringing her hands, Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi said she had failed to blow herself up during a wedding reception at the Radisson SAS hotel after struggling with the cord on her explosives belt.

“My husband wore a belt and put one on me. He taught me how to use it,” al-Rishawi said, wearing a white head scarf, a black gown and a disabled bomb belt tied around her waist.

“My husband detonated [his bomb], and I tried to explode my belt, but it wouldn’t,” she said. “People fled running, and I left running with them.”

Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Muasher said the belt she wore in the broadcast was the same one she tried to use in the attack.

“The vest was caught with her,” he told CNN.

Her husband, Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, 35, was identified yesterday as one of three Iraqi men who carried out the bombings. The Grand Hyatt and Days Inn hotels also were bombed.

Mr. Muasher said the woman was wearing two vests, one packed with explosives and the other with ball bearings to inflict maximum damage.

“This technique was used in all three of the attacks,” he said.

Al-Rishawi’s brother was Zarqawi’s deputy, Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, who was killed by U.S. forces in the one-time terrorist stronghold of Fallujah, Mr. Muasher said, adding that it was not clear when he was killed.

He said authorities hoped the broadcast confession would offer some solace to Jordanians shocked by the attacks. He promised that the woman would get a fair trial.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, which is led by the Jordanian-born Zarqawi, said in its claim of responsibility that there were four bombers, including a woman. The group said the attacks were designed to strike at Jordan’s support for the United States and other Western powers.

A top Jordanian security official, insisting on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press, said al-Rishawi was arrested yesterday morning at a “safe house” in the same Amman district where her husband had rented a furnished apartment recently.

He said Jordanian security was “tipped off” by al Qaeda’s claim.

“There were leads that more people had been involved, but it was not clear that it was a woman, and we had no idea on her nationality,” the official said.

Al-Rishawi, who is from the volatile Anbar province town of Ramadi, west of Baghdad, said she entered Jordan from Iraq with her husband and two other men. Authorities have said the other two Iraqi bombers were Rawad Jassem Mohammed Abed and Safaa Mohammed Ali, both 23.

“I was traveling with my husband, who carried a forged passport under the name of Ali Hussein Ali, and mine was Sajida Abdel Qader Latif,” she said.

“We waited, and a white car arrived with a driver and a passenger. We rode with them and entered Jordan,” she said during the three-minute broadcast.

Once in Amman, she said that the four rented an apartment and that her husband showed her how to use the bomb.

“He said it was for the attack on hotels in Jordan. We rented a car and entered the hotel on November 9. My husband and I went inside, and he went to one corner, and I went to another,” she said. “There was a wedding at the hotel with children, women and men inside.”

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