Failed female bomber on trial in Jordan

An Iraqi woman who failed to blow herself up in a Jordanian hotel last year went on trial in Jordan, charged in the attacks that killed 63 people.

    The November triple bombing in Amman killed 63 people

    Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi, 35, is charged with the almost simultaneous attacks on three hotels in Amman on November 9 in which she, her husband and two other suicide bombers took part.

     

    Al-Rishawi's explosives belt failed to detonate, and she was arrested after fleeing the scene.

     

    On Monday she stood, with chains on her ankles, in the state security court dock.

     

    She was alone as she is the only one of the eight defendants who is in custody.

     

    The leading accused in absentia is Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, whom Jordan believes is the mastermind of the attacks.

     

    His group claimed responsibility for the bombings.

     

    Trial adjourned

     

    Sajida al-Rishawi failed to
    detonate her explosive belt 

    Al-Rishawi, who wore a brown headscarf and dark blue prison dress, told the judge she was "single" because her marriage had not been consummated, and she appealed for legal assistance.

     

    "I don't have a lawyer. I have God to defend me. I have no money now to secure a lawyer," she told the three judges.

     

    The judges adjourned the hearing after five minutes to allow a state lawyer to be appointed to defend her.

     

    Rishawi, who is from the Iraqi town of Ramadi in the western desert province of Anbar, faces a death sentence if found guilty.

     

    The hearing was conducted under tight security in a courtroom inside an Amman prison.

     

    There were no relatives of the victims in the public gallery, only journalists and police officers.

     

    Al-Zarqawi still at large

     

    "I don't have a lawyer. I have God to defend me. I have no money now to secure a lawyer"

    Sajida al-Rishawi

    In the attacks, three Iraqi suicide bombers - including the man that al-Rishawi had married days beforehand - detonated themselves in the hotels, including the Swedish Radisson SAS Hotel where a wedding was under way.

     

    They killed themselves and 60 others.

     

    Jordanians staged street protests against the bombings, particularly the involvement of al-Zarqawi who was born in Jordan.

     

    But al-Zarqawi's group vowed more strikes against Jordan, a staunch US ally that signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and has been the target of several al-Qaeda terror plots because of its moderate stance and criticism of extremist Muslim groups.

     

    The state security court has sentenced al-Zarqawi to death in absentia three times for his involvement in plots against Jordan.

     

    One of the attacks involved the assassination of US aid official Laurence Foley, who was gunned down outside his Amman home in October 2002.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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