Mon 14 Nov 2005
The picture that flashed around the media world this morning was of a Muslim woman opening her abaya to reveal a midriff fixed with a failed explosive device. It was also one of those rare tabloid days when both the New York Post and Daily News ran the same exploitative headline: “Dressed to Kill.” American audiences are more used to seeing an “Oriental” woman dressed to thrill, a belly dancer or an odalisque. Muslim women are enjoined in the Quran to be modest and cover their adornments. But it is hard to imagine that such advice from above covers an incendiary device rather than the body parts that immodest men look to for vice.
She had tried to blow herself up in the Amman hotel, on the opposite side of the room as her Iraqi husband. When she failed, she ran out with the frightened guests but was captured later. Now she has confessed to Jordanian authorities about her role in the intra-marital affair. Her husband is dead; her brother, reportedly a senior aide to al-Zarqawi, had been killed last year by American soldiers in Fallujah. Given these facts alone it seems she had nothing to live for. The question is what did she think she was dying for?
This is not the first time an insurgent woman has turned herself into a human bomb. It will probably not be the last. But it does raise the question of how the ranks of the daily explosion of dead bombers get filled. How desperate must a person be to contemplate such a final act? Yes, there are those radicals who call for jihad against the infidel Americans, but here the target was a high society Jordanian wedding. Was it done because it was easy, easier than going after an embassy or military target? Was it done to strike terror in the eyes of Jordanians who may be wary and weary of the turn of events in Iraq? Was it done out of pure hatred by an alleged mastermind who is himself of Jordanian origin? There is no end to the questions, but at last there may be a few answers. At last a suicide bomber has been caught after the fact.
The first indication that a woman suicide bomber was involved came from an internet site linked to the insurgency. At first it seemed another predictable piece of propaganda, perhaps an attempt to attract distraught Iraqi women who have lost their loved ones and are in ultimate despair. So why did Sajida al-Rishawi agree to play a role in this hideous ritual? Guaranteed it was not for the proverbial 72 virgins. Do you think a woman in such a family situation, regardless of what else she has endured in her life thus far, was anxious to ascend into a martyr’s heaven? Please think again, if you do.
Those who are volunteering to indiscriminately kill fellow Muslims, the vast majority of all victims in these bombings, are not part of some vast Al Qaida conspiracy. The neocons in our State Department who think this watched too many Man from U.N.C.L.E. episodes when they were trying to grow up. It would have been better if they had listened to Maxwell Smart. The bank of future bombers is filled by a kind of theological capitalism. Most of those who will do these acts in the future have little or nothing in the bank now, but their personal pain and despair is the interest that can someday push them to follow the example of Sajida and her husband. Islam does not breed such killers, any more than Christianity bred Irish terrorists. It is our war and occupation, the steadfast failure of an administration to admit that the Muslim world does not want to be occupied with our self interests.
Next week there will be more bombings to write about. And then again the week after that. No one can predict when the insanity will end, nor how many more victims will be added to the list. How long can we shake our heads, turn the channel and hope there will be better news tomorrow? Are there not tears to be shed on all sides for the terrible toll of human waste.
Daniel Martin Varisco
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