US troops capture recruiter of female suicide bombers north of Baghdad

US soldiers, along with Iraqi police, clear and patrol the town of Aswad in the Diyala Province of Iraq, Feb. 19, 2008. US Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Sean Mulligan.

Task Force 88, the special operations hunter-killer teams tasked with dismantling al Qaeda in Iraq’s senior leaders and wider network, has captured a suicide bomb cell leader and recruiter north of Baghdad. The cell leader, who has not been identified, was recruiting women to carry out suicide attacks against Iraqis and Coalition forces.

“The cell leader used his wife and another woman, to act as carriers of his next SVEST [suicide vest] attack,” a Multinational Forces Iraq press release stated.

The cell leader/recruiter was captured in Ghailibiyah, just north of Khan Bani Saad, in Diyala province. “A high level of intelligence led to the successful operation,” Major Daniel J. Meyers, a spokesman for Multinational Division-North said in the press release.

The ID badge for al Qaeda intelligence chief Arkan Khalaf Khudayyir, also known as Karrar. Click to view.

This is the second high-ranking al Qaeda operative know to be involved with using women in bombing attacks that was killed or captured over the past two weeks in Diyala province. On Feb. 17, Task Force 88 killed Arkan Khalaf Khudayyir, also known as Karrar, during a raid in Khan Bani Saad. Karrar was a senior al Qaeda intelligence operative in Diyala province that planned suicide bombing attacks in the Diyala River Valley and Baghdad. Karrar’s network also launched female bombing attacks into Baghdad. Intelligence gleaned from the raid against Karrar was likely behind the latest capture.

Al Qaeda in Iraq has increasingly relied on female bombers to cause mass-casualty events. Mentally handicapped women have been employed by al Qaeda to catch security forces off balance. Women and the mentally handicapped are not considered threats.

From April 2003 to May 2006, women carried out only five bombing attacks in Iraq. Since January 2008, al Qaeda used women in at least four suicide bombing attacks.

On Feb. 1, al Qaeda in Iraq used two mentally disabled women to conduct attacks at markets in Baghdad. The bombs claimed the lives of at least 73 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 167. The women were later confirmed to be mentally handicapped. A director at a Baghdad mental hospital was later arrested for recruiting the women for the attacks. On Feb. 17, Iraqi soldiers in Baghdad stopped a female suicide bomber before she could reach her target. Three Iraqis were killed and 10 were wounded after her vest was detonated prematurely. A female suicide bomber killed 7 Iraqis and wounded 15 in an attack at a traffic circle in Khan Bani Saad, on Jan. 16.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • KW64 says:

    When the global war on terror had just begun, the terrorists would use donkeys to blow up crowds of people. My young daughter was outraged and felt so sorry for the donkeys.
    While I usually have no sympathy for suicide bombers, I do feel for the poor misused women involved in these tragedies. The retarded women obviously are victims but at least they do not know it for very long. Think about the wife who must realize that her husband does not love and value her or he would carry the bomb himself or find another foolish woman to carry it. There must be real personal devastation at such a realization no matter how much propaganda and brainwashing the wife may have gone through. And she has time to think about it and what it means. Yes they are weak and bear guilt; but surely, they are also victims.

  • Alex says:

    Good riddance.

  • Neo says:

    No doubt they use both the willing and the coerced. I have heard of cases of women from decimated insurgent families who have lost fathers, husbands, sons that volunteer for this. Generally this sort of action is abhorred within Iraqi society, but there does seem to be a mindset through parts of society that some of the women are a burden and expendable. Those that are mentally ill, crippled, never married, barren, ruined, a burden on the family for one reason or another. I could easily see them encouraged or forced into this. Than there are those who are being blackmailed into doing it to save the family or a family member.


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