Failed bomber tells of attack on hotel in televised confession

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The Independent Online

An Iraqi woman arrested in Jordan described in a televised confession last night how she tried to blow herself up with her husband in a suicide attack on a wedding party in an Amman hotel last week.

The woman said on state-run television that she tried to take part in Wednesday's al-Qa'ida attacks on three hotels in the Jordanian capital which killed 57 and wounded hundreds of others. Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, 35, declared that her husband had worn an explosive belt and had helped her on with hers before they entered the Radisson SAS hotel where more than 250 Jordanians and Palestinians were attending a wedding.

"We went into the hotel. He [my husband] took a corner and I took another. There was a wedding in the hotel. There were women and children. My husband executed the attack.

"I tried to detonate and it failed. People fled running and I left running with them."

Security officials said the woman had been arrested after they were " tipped off" by an initially confusing al-Qa'ida claim on Friday that a husband and wife team had taken part in Wednesday's attacks.

Jordan's Deputy Prime Minister, Marwan Muasher, said the woman, apparently dressed appropriately for the wedding, had struggled with the cord on her explosives belt. He said that when her husband saw her fumbling he " pushed her out of the ballroom. Once she was out, he blew himself up".

The woman was identified as the sister of Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, who was said to have been killed by US forces while acting as a right-hand-man toAbu Musab al-Zarqawi, reputedly the head of al-Qa'ida in Iraq, which issued a claim of responsibility for the killings.

Jordan's deputy premier said four Iraqis, including the woman and her husband, Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, 35, drove to Jordan from Iraq on 4 November, just five days before the attacks and rented an apartment in western Amman. The attackers took taxis to the three hotels.

A statement by al-Qa'ida in Iraq on Friday said a husband and wife had been among the attackers, but the Jordanian authoritiesdoubted the claim saying they found the bodies of only three male bombers.

The statement implied that the husband and wife team attacked the Days Inn rather than the Radisson, which suffered the worst carnage.

While police originally said the Days Inn bombers' car had been stopped at a security point, officials said on Saturday that the bomber at the hotel had argued with staff before detonating his explosives.

Associated Press quoted an unnamed Jordanian security official as saying that the woman had been arrested at a "safe house" in the same district of Amman where her husband had rented an apartment.

Mr Muasher said the bomb strapped to the man was packed with the powerful explosive RDX and ball bearings, and was designed to kill as many people as possible. "It is clear from the way she was dressed and the explosive belts with ball bearings that they wanted to target innocent civilians, and also wanted to inflict the biggest number of casualties and victims."

The men who supposedly attacked the Grand Hyatt and the Days Inn hotels were identified as Rawad Jassem Mohammed Abed, and Safaa Mohammed Ali, both 23.

Mr Muasher said the female would-be bomber's brother had been killed by US forces in the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah, west of Baghdad.

Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi is believed to have been a member of the powerful and belligerent Albu Risha tribe of Anbar. One of his kinsmen, Latif Rishawi, a clan chief, was killed by US forces in Ramadi in February. Another tribal leader, Khamis Futaikhan, was killed when his car was ambushed in Ramadi. His family blamed Iraqi government forces for the killing.