The phenomenon of female suicide bombers is a gender thing, and the burqa plays an important role in it. The Islamic traditional female garb that cloaks the entire body is given a new purpose with the rise of female suicide bombers. The burqa makes women avoid thorough searches at checkpoints because men are not allowed to search women, and there is a dearth of female guards. Islamic rules against men touching women have made it easy for female suicide bombers to be undetected.
In June this year, a female suicide bomber killed 15 people and injured more than 40 near a government center in Baqouba, Iraq. 15 other women had carried out suicide bombings in the area alone. The women’s black cloaks hid everything, including the bombs.
Although the gender issue aspect does not stop with the purpose of the burqa, the use of females to explode themselves for the sake of “war,” and as expendable entities, has proven to be beneficial to the militant organizations that had hired them.
In February this year, remote-controlled explosives strapped to two mentally disabled females with Down Syndrome were detonated at a busy pet bazaar in the busy central al-Ghazl market in Baghdad. At least 73 people were killed and more than 100 were wounded. It was one of the deadliest attacks since the US had sent an installment of 30,000 extra troops. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a statement saying that the use of mentally retarded women as suicide bombers proves al-Qaeda is “the most brutal and bankrupt of movements.” The remote-controlled bombs were attached to vests that the two women wore under their traditional black Islamic robe. Local police said that one of the women sold cream in the mornings at the market and was known to locals as “the crazy lady.”
The women were clearly not willing attackers.
The Muslim extremist group Hamas thinks that “shamed” women are good recruits as suicide bombers. In early 2004, a young mother of two blew herself up at an Israeli checkpoint. She was the first female suicide bomber from Hamas. The Jerusalem Post revealed that she was forced into the suicide attack as “punishment for cheating on her husband.” Male relatives wanted her dead. Her husband was an activist in the Hamas organization. She was pressured to commit suicide to preserve “family honor.”
Hamas leaders used to reject requests of women to take part in suicide attacks. The organization has since revised its position. Some Hamas leaders now permit the use of women in terror strikes, especially women who have transgressed moral norms. The woman’s “sacrifice” atones for the “stain” she has caused to her family for violating moral codes.
November 13, 2005. Iraqi Sajida Mubarek Atrous al-Rishawi opening her jacket and showing an explosive belt as she confesses on Jordanian state-run television to her failed bid to set off an explosives belt inside one of the three Amman hotels targeted by al-Qaeda. Around this time, three female suicide bombers detonated themselves in a spate of weeks, killing and injuring dozens as U.S.-led coalition forces catch insurgents suspected of training women to become human bombs.
Diaa Rashwan who follows Islamic militancy for Egypt’s Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies said, “Women appear to be used as human bombs as coalition forces push extremists out from former strongholds, shrinking their pool of potential recruits, and forcing them to devise alternative methods to penetrate stiffened security measures.”
December 4, 2007. A female suicide bomber dead at the site of her attack in Peshawar. The woman was clad in a burqa when she blew herself up at an army checkpoint, in a high-security zone of an intelligence services building. The attack happened in the neighborhood of senior retired and serving army officers. The police said this was the country’s first attack that involved a woman since 9/11. Image Source
March 10, 2008. A female suicide bomber in Baqouba, Iraq killed the head of a local group of Sunni fighters Sheik Thaeir Ghadhban al-Karkhi. The woman wore an explosives belt when she entered al-Karkhi’s home. The explosion that killed al-Karkhi also killed his 5-year-old niece and a security guard. al-Karkhi’s 24-year old nephew died later in a hospital. Image Source
November 28, 2007. A Tamil Tiger disabled female suicide bomber blew herself up outside the heavily guarded offices of Welfare and Social Development Minister Douglas Devananda, after she was stopped from entering the office. The explosives were hidden in the woman’s bra. At least 3 security officers were wounded. The LTTE, though, claims to be a secular nationalist group with no ties with the al-Qaeda, nor interested in establishing an Islamic regime. This insurgent militant group has been recruiting female cadres for the past 24 years. Image Source
February 03, 2008. A female LTTE suicide bomber exploded herself inside the Fort railway station in Colombo. 12 people were killed and over 100 others were wounded. Image Source
February 1, 2008. A female suicide bomber blew herself up inside the busy al-Ghazl market in central Baghdad. As if used to such occurrences, Iraqis take pictures on their cell phones of the dismembered remains. Image Source
Female suicide bombers have been more newsworthy than their male counterpart. The media and the world seem to be fascinated by this phenomenon. Female suicide bombers exist precisely because of some concepts attached to gender, making gender favorable for the sake of terror attacks.