Female Suspect Described Details of Jordan Bombings

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Jordan authorities have identified three men and one woman, all Iraqi, as the perpetrators in last week's deadly hotel bombings. The woman, who appeared on Jordanian television Sunday, said her bomb failed to detonate.


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

What's described as an accidental tip from al-Qaeda led to an arrest in Jordan. The woman is described as the fourth bomber in last week's hotel attacks and security services found her after a Web site revealed her existence. NPR's Ivan Watson reports.

IVAN WATSON reporting:

Just hours after Jordanian officials announced they'd captured one of the bombers, they put her on Jordanian state TV in a brief, heavily edited video confession.

(Soundbite from videotape)

Ms. SAJIDA ATROUS: (Foreign language spoken)

WATSON: She introduced herself as 35-year-old Sajida Mubarak Atrous, an Iraqi from the turbulent town of Ramadi. Dressed in a heavy black overcoat and white head scarf that covered everything but her face, she posed for the camera wearing a thick explosive belt bristling with wires and then manipulated what appeared to be a detonating device. Off camera, a male interrogator occasionally prompted her to recount her story.

(Soundbite from videotape)

Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

Ms. ATROUS: (Foreign language spoken)

WATSON: Atrous said she and her husband left from Baghdad to Jordan on November 5th, using false passports. Here, they rented an apartment and acquired two bomb belts which they then wore to the Radisson Hotel on the night of November 9th.

(Soundbite from videotape)

Ms. ATROUS: (Through Translator) My husband and I went inside the hotel. He went to one corner and I went to another. There was a wedding at the hotel with children, women and men inside. My husband detonated and I tried to explode but it wouldn't. People fled running and I left running with them.

WATSON: That single bomb blew ball bearings across the wedding party, killing more than 30 people, all Jordanians and Palestinians. Jordanian authorities say the Radisson bomber as well as those behind two simultaneous explosions at two other hotels that night were all Iraqi men in their 20s from Al Anbar province. Results of the Jordanian investigation match an Internet statement last week purportedly posted by al-Qaeda in Iraq which said that some of its, quote, "best lions," three Iraqi men and a woman, a wife, carried out the attacks. But since then, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi appears to have published two more al-Qaeda Internet statements, says Joost Hiltermann, a Middle East analyst with the International Crisis Group.

Mr. JOOST HILTERMANN (Middle East Analyst, International Crisis Group): Well, normally, one message would have been sufficient to claim credit for the attacks. In this case, because there was an outcry in Jordan over the target of one of the three attacks, meaning a wedding party, I think he felt it necessary to justify his choice of three hotels.

WATSON: In downtown Amman yesterday, several thousand people gathered for a government-sponsored rally condemning the worst terror attacks in this kingdom's history.

(Soundbite of music)

WATSON: State TV broadcast live images of a woman kneeing on an outdoor stage dressed in a black wedding dress and veil, wearing a sash that said `Amman.'

Ivan Watson, NPR News, Amman.

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