Weapons: Homicidal Widows Unleashed

November 19, 2008: Having lost so many of their suicide bomber teams, and other resources (cash and explosives), surviving Islamic terrorists in Iraq have had to improvise. As a result, the latest terror weapon in Iraq is a female suicide bomber wearing a small amount of explosives under her all encompassing burqa. There have been over 30 of these employed during the last 18 months, nearly all of them in Diyala province (60 kilometers north of Baghdad). All these attacks are believed to be the work of one terrorist cell, and this crew is the subject of an intense manhunt.

Until a year ago, Islamic terrorists in Iraq preferred to use car bombs. This was possible because al Qaeda had a big supply of Sunni Arab volunteers from neighboring countries to drive and die. Many of these volunteers were otherwise worthless, as they had no training, and some of them were deranged. But some of these men were capable of driving a suicide car bomb, often assisted by trigger teams that would detonate the bomb remotely once the suicide driver got it into position.

The car bombs were produced in auto repair shops, where cars seats, and other components were removed so that the explosives could be installed. Better suspensions were often installed so that the vehicle would not be so obviously overloaded, and be easier to drive.

The car bomb was usually accompanied by guides, "or trigger team" riding in another car, behind the suicide bomber, radioing the suicide bomber instructions, and sometimes setting off the explosives themselves. Suicide bombers often have second thoughts when it comes to doing the deed. The guides try to make sure the suicide bomber does not change his mind, any way they can. The guides car will often have a cameraman, taping the operation. These vids turn up a lot on pro-terrorist web sites.

The new women suicide bomber cell turned to recruiting women because the supply of foreign volunteers had dried up. This was the result of attacks on the smuggling operation that brought people across the Syrian border, and fewer foreigners willing to volunteer for missions that, as everyone in the Arab world now knew, mainly killed innocent civilians. Security forces had also shut down most of the workshops that fitted cars with explosives. Then there was the growing shortage of explosives, as more and more weapons caches were found and destroyed. Finally, there was the problem of increased security, most of the now supplied by Iraqi troops and police. In short, it was more difficult to get a suicide car bomb to a target. Women, even if carrying a small bomb, had an easier time getting through security.

The terror cell leaders used a network of recruiters, many of them clergy, to seek out distraught widows and female orphans (some as young as 12 or 13) to make the ultimate sacrifice for the cause (or just for revenge.) The tragedy has been compounded by the selection of hospitals as targets. These attacks are seen as a severe blow to government morale, although the result has been increased efforts to hunt down the members of the women's suicide bomber cell.

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