Sister of Tawhid’s Anbar Cell Captured in Jordan Bombings
Jordanian authorities have captured Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, the wife of suicide bomber Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, who detonated his belt bomb at the Radisson in Amman. She turns out to be the sister of the Anbar leader of the Monotheism and Holy War (al-Qaeda in Iraq), who was killed at some point in Fallujah. HIs name was Thamir al-Rishawi
So this Amman operation really does seem to have come out of Zarqawi’s group, rather than just using that group as a cover, as is so often done inside Iraq.
Ms. al-Rishawi’s husband was from the Shamar tribe, the same large and important clan to which vice president Ghazi al-Yawir belongs.
Shamar had benefited from the old Baath order, and was deeply entwined with it, and is a major locus of resistance to the new order imposed by the Americans. Reuters reported back in April of 2003, “Some media reports have said members of Saddam’s family fled to Syria during the war and were later sent back to Iraq, where they were being sheltered by the Shamar tribe.”
Some Shamar have been displaced by the return of the Kurds that Saddam had expelled from the north, producing bitterness.
Iraqi militant sources maintain that Rishawi is not the first such woman suicide bomber from this milieu: “Mafkarat al-Islam, invoking God’s reward upon the martyrs, commented that the first of the many women martyrs to fall in Iraq was a woman member of the Shamar tribe who put on an explosive belt and blew herself up at a US checkpoint shortly after the US invasion. That attack left dead and wounded Americans.”
Of course Shamar is a huge group of people and there are other branches of it who want to join the mainstream of the new Iraq (al-Yawir and his uncle, from the leadership stratum, among them). There is a small Shiite branch of Shamar, which is always played up rhetorically by politicians such as al-Yawir, but they aren’t actually that big a part of the clan.
Aljazeera.net [Arabic] says that Rishawi confessed that she entered Jordan on the 5th of November in the company of her husband, traveling by private car. They had forged Iraqi passports. Then they rented an apartment in Amman. On 9 November, her husband put a bomb belt on her and then put one on himsefl, and drilled her in how to use it. Then they both headed for the Radisson SAS where there was a wedding party in one of the halls. She stood in one corner of the hotel and her husband stood in another. She attempted to detonate her bomb but failed, whereas her husband succeeded in setting off his.
According to the Jordanian government, the members of the cell that carried out this operation were Rawad Jasim Muhammd (23), Safa’ Muhmmad Ali (23), and then al-Rishawi and al-Shamari, the husband and wife team. All four were Iraqis.
Jordanian authorities are investigating known Jordanian members of the Zarqawi group to see if any were involved in supporting the operation.
A canny observer suggested to me that the Iraqis were used by the Tawhid leadership precisely because the Jordanian jihadis in places like Zarqa are under very heavy surveillance, whereas Jordanian intelligence has not been able to penetrate cells in Iraqi cities such as Ramadi, the city from which Ms. al-Rishawi hails.