It has been widely reported that the Iraqi Interior Ministry has ordered the police to “round up beggars, vagabonds and mentally disabled people” to prevent insurgents from using them as “suicide bombers.”
The impetus for this new policy appears to be the double bombing of a Baghdad pet market on February 1st, which is estimated to have killed over 50 people. The bombers in that case were two mentally disabled women known in the market by fond names like “the crazy woman.” (several reports say that they had Down Syndrome.) It appears that insurgents strapped bombs to them, sent them into the market, and then detonated them remotely.
Iraqi officials are worried that this tactic could become more widespread. According to Time Magazine, U.S. and Iraqi troops have detained the director of a psychiatric hospital for questioning about whether he supplied Al-Qaeda in Iraq with information about mentally-impaired women at the hospital who could be used for bombings.
So, a few observations:
1) The media MUST stop calling these “suicide bombings.” They are “homicide bombings,” or maybe just “One bombing, extra murder!” It is not “suicide” when the person who is supposed to be responsible for your safety gives you to a terrorist group so that they can blow you and many other people up. It is not “suicide” when a terrorist organization remotely detonates a mentally disabled person. Repeat after me, mainstream media: These are not suicide bombings. These are brutal and creepy murders. (I wasn’t sure it was possible to make a terrorist attack that kills dozens of innocent people MORE gross, but apparently it is.) Oddly enough, it appears that only Fox News managed to grasp this: their headline is “Mentally Disabled Female Homicide Bombers Blow Up Pet Markets in Baghdad, Killing Dozens.”
2) Why are Al-Qaeda in Iraq using this new tactic? Have they run out of regular suicide bombers? If so, that is actually pretty good news. It suggests that ordinary Iraqis are not nearly as into becoming “martyrs” as some have suggested.
3) Of course, it’s possible that this is just a variant on the U.S. media’s original explanation for the pet market bombings: that women were used because they would be less likely to attract suspicion and be thwarted from completing the attack. The New York Sun, for instance, says that vulnerable populations are being used “to avoid suspicion and searches at checkpoints.” However, I’m not sure that makes much sense. Surely the result of this new tactic is that people will be even more hostile to mentally-disabled women than they might have been before, making them less likely to be successful bombers? I doubt these women were welcomed with open arms before, and presumably now it will be much worse.
4) This is just so, so, sad.
That is all.