Female Suicide Bombers: A New Al Qaeda Tactic?

ByABC News
November 14, 2005, 6:40 PM

Nov. 14, 2005 — -- In a videotaped confession, Sajida Mubarak Atrous, 35, told Jordanian authorities how she and her husband prepared to kill themselves.

"He taught me. He taught me how to pull, what to do, and how to control it," she said.

The suicide bombers arrived from Iraq four days before last week's attack and stayed in an apartment building in Amman.

"There was a wedding at the hotel, children, women and men," she continued. "My husband detonated himself. I tried but it didn't detonate."

The attack came precisely one year after the United States launched its ground assault on the insurgent strongholds in the Iraqi town of Fallujah.

In that offensive, Sajida's brother, a top deputy to insurgent leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was killed. Officials tell ABC News they believe the timing was no coincidence.

"There is an element of devotion, an element of revenge, an element that 'I would like to exact revenge on the enemies of Iraqis and the enemies of Zarqawi,'" said Fawaz Gerges, a professor at Sarah Lawrence College and an ABC News consultant.

Sajida is one of the estimated 50 female suicide bombers worldwide since the 1980s.

"I think she will be seen as a twisted, horrible woman who is going to hell," said Rachel Bronson, director of Middle East Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. "Suicide is against Islam and she targeted Muslims, another taboo."

Today, the use of women and explosive belts suggests a shift in tactics that alarms many U.S. security analysts.

"The fact that they're using strap-ons means they are now trying to attack targets they probably can't get close to with car bombs or truck bombs," warns Richard Clarke, an ABC News consultant and former White House counter-terrorism official. "But using people, particularly women who look innocent, they are able to get into the buildings and can cause casualties."

ABC News' Maddy Sauer and Hoda Osman contributed to this report.