AMMAN, Jordan, AP – The Iraqi woman who failed in her bid to blow herself up in an Amman hotel had three brothers killed by U.S. forces, friends of the woman said Tuesday. In a response to the bombings, Jordanian officials unveiled tough new anti-terror measures.
The killings of Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi”s three brothers in Iraq”s volatile Anbar province is being considered as a possible motivation behind her bid to take part in last week”s triple bombings, which killed 60 people, including her husband and two Iraqi bombers.
Friends of al-Rishawi, who comes from Anbar”s provincial capital of Ramadi, told The Associated Press that three of her brothers were killed by U.S. forces.
Thamir al-Rishawi, regarded as a known member of an al-Qaida in Iraq terror cell operating in Anbar, was killed during the April 2004 U.S. operations in Fallujah when an air-to-ground missile hit his pickup.
Two other brothers, Ammar and Yassir, were killed in two separate attacks against U.S. troops in Ramadi, said the two friends, who declined to be identified further because they feared retribution from insurgent forces.
Police arrested the would-be bomber Sunday in a safe house in western Amman after the al-Qaida in Iraq terror group issued an Internet statement saying a woman was among the four Iraqi attackers.
Al-Rishawi revealed no motive in a televised confession Sunday for trying to bomb the Radisson SAS hotel, saying only that she was brought to Jordan from Iraq by her husband, who fitted her with an explosives belt and told her it would be used in a suicide bombing attack.
Jordanian intelligence officials say their interrogation of al-Rishawi, which could last for about a month before she is eventually charged, has been going slowly, with few details emerging of her motivation behind taking part in the plot.
She could face the death penalty if convicted of conspiring to carry out a terrorist attack that killed people and possessing explosives with the aim of using them illegally, according to a senior security official close to the interrogation.
Al-Rishawi said in her confession that she wanted to join her husband in attacking the Radisson, but her bomb — packed with 22 pounds of powerful RDX explosives and ball-bearings — malfunctioned.
Her husband, identified as Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, managed to detonate his bomb and killed more than 20 people attending a Jordanian-Palestinian wedding reception.
In a bid to stop further foreign militants operating covertly in Jordan, Interior Minister Awni Yirfas announced new regulations Tuesday demanding all Jordanians notify authorities within 48 hours of any non-Jordanian renting an apartment or house.
"Violators of this regulation will face legal ramifications," Yirfas said without elaborating.
Authorities will demand Jordanians provide the names, nationalities and passport details of any foreigner renting a property in the kingdom.
In a further response to the hotel bombings, Jordan has begun drafting tough new anti-terrorism laws, the country”s first that specifically target terror crimes, a top Interior Ministry official said.
The draft law, which will likely be ready for parliament debate early next year, will let Jordanian authorities hold any suspect for questioning indefinitely, the official said on condition of anonymity because he was unauthorized to speak to the media.
While Jordanian security forces already wield far-reaching powers to arrest and hold suspects, the proposed laws will be the country”s first specifically designed to counter terrorism and further strengthen the government”s control over security-related matters.
The new anti-terror law will propose issuing penalties on "those who would expose the lives and properties of citizens to danger inside and outside the country."
Anyone condoning or justifying terror actions or supporting them financially will also face penalties under the proposed law, the official added.
The two other targeted hotels — the Grand Hyatt and Days Inn — were bombed by Iraqis Safaa Mohammed Ali and Rawad Jassem Mohammed, both 23, Jordan officials said.
The U.S. military command in Iraq said American troops had detained an Iraqi of the same name as one of the bombers, Safaa Mohammed Ali, during operations in Fallujah in November 2004, but released him after two weeks because there was no "compelling evidence" that he posed a security threat.
The American military could not confirm that the man it arrested was among the three Amman hotel bombers.
Police believe al-Rishawi may provide vital clues to al-Qaida in Iraq and possibly al-Zarqawi”s whereabouts. Authorities also believe more people helped arrange the attacks, but it was unclear if they were among 12 suspects under arrest.