Aftermath of al Qaeda’s bombing attack using a woman with Down’s Syndrome. AP Photo.
Al Qaeda in Iraq has pulled off two mass-casualty terror bombings in markets in Baghdad. The attacks, which were carried out by mentally impaired women, claimed the lives of at least 73 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 167. This is not the first time al Qaeda has used mentally and physically handicapped women and children in bombings, as has been reported.
The first attack occurred at the popular Ghazl pet market, where thousands of Baghdadis flock to on Fridays. The bombing killed 46 civilians and wounded more than 100, The Associated Press reported. The second attack occurred just 20 minutes later in a Shia market in southeastern Baghdad. Police reported 27 Iraqi civilians were killed and 67 wounded.
The attacks in Baghdad were not suicide bombings as both women used by al Qaeda were mentally disabled and the vests were detonated remotely, according to General Qasim Atta. “Atta said the women were strapped with dynamite and ball bearings, citing members of the bomb squad,” CNN reported. “The explosives were detonated via cell phone.” The women were believed to have had Down’s Syndrome.
The AP reported al Qaeda is “using new tactics.” But al Qaeda’s usage of the handicapped women and children to conduct attacks can be traced back as early as the January 2005 election. Al Qaeda pressed a child with Down’s Syndrome to attack a polling station during the January 2005 parliamentary elections.
Similar crimes were reported by Task Force Freedom, which operated in the Tal Afar region in western Ninewa province in 2005. Another mentally handicapped woman was used by al Qaeda as a human bomb. “In late September, a woman believed to be in her early twenties and also mentally impaired detonated an explosive belt, killing herself and seven other innocent Iraqis including one child,” a Task Force Freedom press release stated in November 2005.
Al Qaeda also used mentally handicapped children to conduct attacks in 2005. One such young boy was used to throw grenades at civilians and Iraqi security forces. Other young boys were raped and tortured in order to force them to conduct attacks. “In the past month, four other incidents of boys from age 10-12 conducting attacks have occurred,” Task Force Freedom reported at that time. “Three involved hand grenades and one killed an Iraqi civilian who had previously told the children to stop these attacks. In a chilling confession, one boy who Iraqi Police captured during the heavy fighting in September admitted to murdering people and even helping hold the feet of others while the older terrorists beheaded them. He had been sodomized and brain-washed by the terrorists.”
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