Friday, February 1, 2008




The use of cellphones facilitates remote activation. It also enablesthe terrorists to use unconscious human carriers of IEDs, which areactivated through a cellphone thereby giving the impression of aconscious suicide attack. Glorified tales of suicide missions are thenused by the terrorist organisations in their recruitment drive. It hadbeen reported in 2003 that one of the persons carrying a package inCasablanca at the instance of terrorists was not aware that itcontained an IED, which was activated through a cellphone by theterrorists as soon as the carrier reached the vicinity of the intendedtarget. The Chechens were also reported to have used this MO forblowing up two planes last year (2004). There have also beenallegations of jihadi terrorists and the Palestinian groups usingteen-agers as unconscious human bombs, detonated through cellphones.".------Extract from my article dated April 5,2005, at


More than 70 innocent civilians are reported to have been killed bytwo bombs in Baghdad, attached to two mentally disabled women anddetonated remotely, on February 1,2008. The bombings were the worstto hit Baghdad since three car bombs killed 80 people on August1,2007.

2. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has quoted Iraqisecurity forces spokesman Brig Moussawi as saying as follows:: "Theoperation was carried out by two booby-trapped mentally disabledwomen. [The bombs] were detonated remotely. Forensic and bomb squadexperts as well as the people and traders of al-Shorja area of thecarpet market have confirmed that the woman who was blown-up theretoday was often in the area and was mentally disabled..In the NewBaghdad area the shop owners and customers of a pet market confirmedthat the woman who was blown-up there was mentally disabled as well."

3.The use of unconscious bombers by making them carry improvisedexplosive devices (IEDs) without being aware of it and exploding theIEDs through mobile phones is a well-known modus operandi. Palestinianterrorist groups and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) hadin the past used conscious women bombers for suicide terrorism becauseof their belief that women were subject to less intensive physicalchecks than men. The LTTE used a conscious woman suicide bomber tokill Rajiv Gandhi, former Indian Prime Minister, in Chennai inMay,1991. Using mentally handicapped women as unconscious bombers hasa double advantage. Being women, security checks of them may not bethorough. Secondly, if they are well known in the targeted areas asmentally handicapped, the chances of physical checks would be evenless.

4. From trhe use of this modus operandi, it would be incorrect toconclude----as some analysts seem to have done---that Al Qaeda must behaving difficulty in recruiting men for suicide missions. There is noevidence either from Iraq or elsewhere in the Arab world or from thePakistani diaspora in the West or from Afghanistan oriPakistan----which constitute the reservoir of jihadi suicideterrorists--- that the flow of male volunteers for suicide terrorismis drying up.

5. All that the use of these two mentally-handicapped women in Baghdadby Al Qaeda shows is that the tightening of physical security has madeit difficult for male suicide bombers to operate as easily as beforeand they have, therefore, used these women in a very cruel manner.

6. The blasts have come in the wake of stepped-up propaganda by AlQaeda since December,2007, refuting US claims that as a result of thegrowing divide between the Iraqi resistance fighters and Al Qaeda, thelatter is losing the momentum of its jihad. The successful blasts ofFebruary 1 do not necessarily disprove the US claims. One has to waitand watch. (2-2-08)

(The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt.of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For TopicalStudies, Chennai. E-mail: )