Drugged Female Would-Be Suicide Bomber Surrenders (Iraq)

A teenage girl wearing an explosive suicide vest surrendered to police in the Iraqi city of Baqouba rather than detonating the device, according to video pictures released yesterday. The girl, who gave her name as Rania and said she was born in 1993, was shown handcuffed to a metal frame as officers tried to cut away the bomb hidden under layers of floral-decorated robes.

She appeared dazed as officers covered her bare shoulders with a jacket. One policeman suggested she had been drugged before being sent on the mission on Sunday.

The film recorded an officer pulling out a wire before removing the vest. It was reportedly packed with 33lb of explosives in six compartments.

Police said she was fitted with the explosives by female relatives of her husband, whom she married five months ago. An Iraqi police officer claimed the girl’s family was known for supporting al-Qaida in Iraq and that her father had carried out a suicide bombing. She was detained by police.

Women have been used increasingly in suicide attacks in Iraq. The number of female bombers has more than tripled, from eight in 2007 to 29 this year, according to US military officials.

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Female suicide bombers kill 70 Iraqis (Iraq)

Al Qaeda in Iraq conducted two successful strikes in Baghdad and the northern city of Kirkuk. At least seventy Iraqi civilians were killed and more than 300 wounded in four suicide attacks, CNN reported. The attacks were carried out by female terrorists.

The attacks in Baghdad occurred in three separate locations as the female bombers targeted Shia pilgrims traveling on foot to a shrine in the Kadhamiyah district. The three bombers waded into the crowds and detonated their suicide vests within thirty minutes of each other. Thirty-two Iraqis were reported killed and 102 were wounded.

In Kirkuk, a female suicide bomber detonated her vest in the middle of a crowd of more than 5,000 Kurds who gathered to protest the delay of provincial elections in Kirkuk. Just after the detonation, gunmen opened up on the crowd. Thirty-eight Iraqis were killed and 178 were wounded in the deadly attack. Five more were wounded after a clash broke out between “unknown gunmen” and security forces outside the headquarters of the Turkmen Party. A curfew was immediately imposed on the province.

Kirkuk remains a flashpoint for violence as Kurds, Arabs, and Turkmen vie for political power in the northern city. The Kurds seek to bring the oil-rich city into the political sphere of the Kurdistan Regional Government while Kurds have retaken lands from Arabs settled in the region during the rule of Saddam Hussein. Last week, the Iraqi Parliament passed a law delaying provincial elections and setting up a power-sharing agreement between the parties. The Kurdish political parties walked out of Parliament in protest.

Today’s attacks demonstrate that while al Qaeda has suffered major setbacks in Iraq, the network still maintains the capacity to conduct high-profile, mass-casualty suicide strikes. The last major attack occurred on July 24, when a female suicide bomber killed eight Awakening fighters and wounded 15 during an attack in Baqubah.

Al Qaeda suicide bombers also struck in Diyala province on July 15. Two suicide bombers detonated their vests within the Saad military camp as Iraqi Army recruits gathered. Twenty-two recruits were killed and more than 55 wounded.

The last major bombing in Baghdad occurred on June 18, when a car bomb detonated in the Shia neighborhood of Hayy Hurriyah in Baghdad’s Kadhamiyah district. The US military determined the attack was carried out by cell run by a Mahdi Army leader named Haydar Mahdi Khadum Al Fawadi.

US, Iraqi forces target al Qaeda’s networks

The US and Iraqi military have heavily targeted al Qaeda networks in the central and northern provinces over the past two days. Eighty-eight al Qaeda operatives were captured and four were killed during operations.

Today, Coalition special forces captured 30 suspected al Qaeda fighters during raids in Abu Ghraib and Mosul. An al Qaeda cell leader and a bomb maker were captured in Abu Ghraib and a financier for Ninewa province was captured in Mosul. Also, Coalition forces surrounded “a hideout for AQI facilitators and smugglers coming in from Syria” in a village southwest of Mosul, and captured 15 terrorists.

Yesterday, US and Iraqi forces killed four al Qaeda fighters and detained 58 suspects during search operation in Ninewa province. Four Iraqi soldiers were killed during gun battle.

Iraqi and US forces are massing for a major offensive in Diyala province, where al Qaeda still maintains sanctuaries in the rural regions. The operation is expected to begin in early August.

Death Penalty for Internet ‘Crimes’

Iran’s parliament is set to debate a draft bill which could see the death penalty used for those deemed to promote corruption, prostitution and apostasy on the Internet, reports said on Wednesday.

MPs on Wednesday voted to discuss as a priority the draft bill which seeks to “toughen punishment for harming mental security in society,” the ISNA news agency said.

The text lists a wide range of crimes such rape and armed robbery for which the death penalty is already applicable. The crime of apostasy (the act of leaving a religion, in this case Islam) is also already punishable by death.

However, the draft bill also includes “establishing weblogs and sites promoting corruption, prostitution and apostasy”, which is a new addition to crimes punishable by death.

Those convicted of these crimes “should be punished as “mohareb’ (enemy of God) and “corrupt on the earth’,” the text says.

Under Iranian law the standard punishments for these two crimes are “hanging, amputation of the right hand and then the left foot as well as exile.”

The bill — which is yet to be debated by lawmakers — also stipulates that the punishment handed out in these cases “cannot be commuted, suspended or changed”.

Internet is widely used in Iran despite restrictions on access and the blocking of thousands of websites with a sexual content or deemed as insulting religious sanctities and promoting political dissent.

Blogging is also very popular among cyber-savvy young Iranians, some openly discussing their private lives or criticising the system.

Human rights groups have accused Iran of making excessive use of the death penalty but Teheran insists it is an effective deterrent that is carried out only after an exhaustive judicial process.

The number of executions soared last year to 317 amid a campaign which the authorities said was aimed at improving security in society, and was sharply up on 2006 figures when Amnesty International recorded 177 executions.

All legislation in Iran has to be rubber-stamped by a conservative clerical watchdog before it is written into law. The Guardians Council vets bills to see if they are in line with the constitution and Islamic law.

Cleric ‘calls all feminists whores and foreign spies’

Tehran, 27 May (AKI) – A top Iranian cleric from the northeast, Ayatollah Ahmad Elmalhoda, has reportedly called feminists “whores and foreign spies”.

“These whores, clutching a piece of paper in their hands to gather signatures, are working for foreign powers and want to destabilise the Islamic Republic,” said Elmalhoda.

He is the highly influential prayer leader in the northeastern holy Shia city of Mashad.

Elmalhoda has called on the government to “intervene decisively against these whores, because it is improper to leave them to act with impunity.”

A few weeks ago, Elmalhoda said women who do not wear the Islamic veil as instructed “turned men into animals.”

Verbal attacks against feminists in Iran are also being accompanied by a vast judicial offensive.

Eight feminists involved in a campaign to gather “a million signatures in favour of equality” were recently given jail terms of various lengths and sentenced to public floggings.

The Iranian authorities have in the last two weeks censured twelve websites close to the feminist movement.

Double Iraq suicide blast kills 30 in wedding attack

May 1, 2008

A double suicide attack struck a wedding convoy north-east of Baghdad today killing at least 30 and injuring 65.

Police said the attacks occurred in the busy market town of Balad Ruz in the restive Diyala province. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the attack bore hallmarks associated with al Qaeda in Iraq.

A second bomber was said to have struck as crowds rushed to evacuate the wounded from the first attack, a common tactic used to maximise casualties.

The bombers detonated their explosive vests within minutes of each other according to Major General Abdel Karim al-Rubaie, head of the provincial military command.

“The first bomber blew himself up amid a crowd of people. Minutes later another bomber blew himself up as people were trying to rescue the victims of the first attack,” Mr Rubaie said.

He said the attack took place at around 7pm (1600 GMT) in a street known to sell wedding dresses and gifts.

Suicide bombings are a tactic mainly employed in Iraq by Sunni Arab militant groups such as al Qaeda.

Iraq has seen a jump in violence over the past month, mainly involving clashes pitting Shi’ite militias against US and government troops in Baghdad and the south. But al-Qaeda has also struck with a number of large suicide bombings in the north.

Iraqi government figures show April was the deadliest month for civilians since August last year.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/iraq/article3857590.ece