A surprising switch in al Qaeda
terror tactics in Iraq has been the sharp increase in the use of women as
suicide bombers. Between 2003-7, there were only eight female suicide bombers,
So far this year, there have been about three dozen. There are apparently several al Qaeda cells
that specialize in recruiting and training women for these tasks. Some
intelligence analysts believe that al Qaeda got the idea from their Chechen
members, who pioneered the use of female suicide bombers nearly a decade ago.
2000, the Chechen rebels in Chechnya, received several million dollars (from
Persian Gulf philanthropists) to finance a suicide bomber unit. The Shahid
(suicide attacker) battalion was formed as a result. The Iranian backed
Hizbollah provided advice on how to run the operation. There were a few
differences from Hizbollah methods in Lebanon, and similar groups in Palestine.
Chechens are not as devout Moslems, for one thing. So religion could not be
depended on as much when recruiting suicide bombers.
have lost a limb or an eye proved to be a good source of recruits. As with
Hizbollah, people with mental problems are also useable, as long as their
disability did not make them incapable of learning how to handle the explosives
and following instructions. Widows or unmarried women who have lost their
parents were another source of recruits. In Chechen culture, such women face
bleak prospects. People who have been condemned to death by religious courts
were given the option of being a suicide bomber to atone for their crime and
provide some cash for their families. Another source of volunteers was men who
have lost many family members to Russian troops and were keenly aware of the
Chechen tradition of revenge. The region is cursed with many blood feuds and
the Shahid battalion offerws a way for
anyone to settle a blood debt against the Russians. As an added inducement for
all volunteers, the rebels provided cash payments ($500-$1,000) and promises to
take care of surviving family members. The Russians destroyed the Shahid
battalion after a few years, but not before there were several spectacular
suicide bombings, including a few carried out by women.
In Iraq, al
Qaeda found the best recruits were the widows of al Qaeda members. These widows
were often Iraqi women who were forced, often at gunpoint, to marry al Qaeda
members. These marriages took place in the last few years, as al Qaeda flooded
into the country to fight a "final battle" against America. These
"wives" were often used as sex slaves, and passed around among horny
terrorists. The women got pregnant, often without knowing who the father was. On top of that, these al Qaeda wives
were despised by their family and neighbors, who early on came to dislike this
al Qaeda crowd. Naturally, many of these al Qaeda wives became depressed and
vulnerable to recruiters looking for suicide bombers.