A female member of al-Qa'eda confessed on Jordanian television yesterday to having failed to kill herself in last week's suicide bombings on Amman hotels. Wearing a white head scarf, black gown and dummy bomb belt, Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, 35, explained how she tried to blow herself up with her husband at the city's Radisson. The Jordanian authorities, who were only alerted to her existence by al-Qa'eda's statement of responsibility for the bombing, were clearly delighted at her arrest.
With her close connections to senior members of al-Qa'eda in Iraq, they will want to glean as much from her as possible about the group, intelligence of huge interest to the CIA and MI6. Fingering a detonator and clearly displaying the belt, she spoke calmly in Arabic with a clear Iraqi accent during the three-minute appearance. She did not express any remorse for the 57 people killed in the attacks.
She said her detonator malfunctioned and she was forced to flee along with other survivors after her husband, Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, blew himself up in a banqueting hall crowded with a Jordanian wedding party.
"My husband wore one belt and I another - he told me how to use it," she said during the televised confession. "We went into the hotel. He took one 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.''
She explained that she and her husband entered Jordan from Iraq on forged Iraqi documents with two other male bombers. All four stayed in a rented house in Amman before last Wednesday night's attacks.
Earlier, at a press conference to announce this major breakthrough in the inquiry, Marwan Muasher, Jordan's deputy prime minister, said the woman had deliberately targeted the wedding as she had been wearing smart clothes to blend in with the guests.
At least 30 wedding guests, including the fathers of the bride and groom, were killed in the blast in one of the three hotels targeted. Mr Muasher gave the names of the other two suicide bombers as Rawad Jassem Mohammed Abed, 23, and Safaa Mohammed Ali, 23, confirming that all were Iraqis.
He added that the woman now in Jordanian custody was the sister of a senior member of al-Qa'eda in Iraq, Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, believed to have been killed by US forces during their assault on Fallujah last year, reports Telegraph News. Photo: Reuters I.L.