Bombers 'Not Willing Martyrs'

Bombers 'Not Willing Martyrs'
February 3rd, 2008  
Team Infidel

Topic: Bombers 'Not Willing Martyrs'

Bombers 'Not Willing Martyrs'
Los Angeles Times
February 3, 2008 Photos of two women who attacked Baghdad pet markets show signs of Down syndrome, U.S. officials say.
By Garrett Therolf and Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
BAGHDAD Senior American military officials produced photographs Saturday they said showed the bodies of two female suicide bombers who a day earlier attacked two popular pet markets, causing Baghdad's deadliest blasts in months.
The photographs showed the lifeless faces of two dark-haired women with oblique eye fissures, a wide gap between the eyes and a flat nose bridge -- characteristics consistent with Down syndrome.
"There are some indications that these two women were mentally handicapped," said Army Maj. Gen. Jeffery Hammond, the commander of U.S. forces in Baghdad. "From what I see, it appears that the suicide bombers were not willing martyrs. They were used by Al Qaeda [in Iraq] for these horrific attacks."
Hammond showed the classified photographs to a few reporters, including one for The Times, but he declined to release the images "out of respect for the deceased."
"These two women were likely used because they didn't know what was happening and they were less likely to be searched," Hammond said.
Iraqi police said 99 people were killed and 208 were wounded Friday in the two blasts. Hammond said 27 were killed and 53 wounded. The officials were unable to say why their numbers disagreed so widely.
According to Hammond, one woman wore a suicide vest and the other carried a backpack loaded with explosives, nails and metal pellets. He did not know whether they were detonated remotely.
The apparently coordinated attacks occurred 10 minutes apart shortly before 11 a.m. Witness accounts varied. Some said both women appeared to be mentally disabled, whereas others said at least one attack was carried out by a blond woman with no visible disability.
Despite the carnage, Hammond said, "people are returning to their neighborhoods and peace is returning to Baghdad."
At the two markets Saturday, abandoned puppies milled amid the workers gathered to clean the wreckage of broken stalls, cages and animal parts. The central Baghdad market had snakes, monkeys, dogs and cats, and the southeast Baghdad market had birds.
Indications that the two attackers were mentally disabled upset battle-worn Iraqis.
At the market in southeast Baghdad, Abu Gasan, a 43-year-old teacher who maintains an electricity shop, lamented that many of Iraq's state institutions for the developmentally disabled had shuttered since the start of the war in 2003, leaving their former residents vulnerable to the city's violence.
"The government should provide those who have special needs a shelter, but the terrorists should still take all the blame for this horrific attack," he said.
A 22-year-old student, Ahmed Shihab, said, "No religion accepts this sort of abuse of disabled women. Only those who have nothing to do with any religion accept this."
At the market in central Baghdad, 33-year-old Kamal Iraqi blamed American forces for the disaster because the U.S.-organized brigade known as concerned local citizens was responsible for some checkpoints around the market.
He believed the group allowed the explosions to happen.
"It's an excuse for the U.S. to stay and declare that Iraqis are still not capable of taking care of our country," he said. "Each time we think the situation has gotten better, it deteriorates further."
Over the course of the war, sporadic reports have emerged from the U.S. military of insurgent attacks carried out by people who are mentally disabled.
In January 2005, a suicide bomber believed to be mentally disabled detonated explosives near a polling station in the Iskan neighborhood, a poor area in northwest Baghdad. One person was killed in the attack and 10 injured.
American and Iraqi officials say a recent increase in women involved in suicide attacks is a sign that insurgents loyal to Al Qaeda in Iraq are struggling to recruit men and to maneuver large bombs past checkpoints.
Times staff writers Said Rifai and Usama Redha contributed to this report.

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