Iraq’s First Female Suicide Bomber Strikes

Taking a page from Hamas’ playbook, a female terrorist strapped a bomb to herself and killed at least six people in front of an Iraqi recruiting center today.

Iraq’s First Female Suicide Bomber Strikes (AP)

A woman strapped with explosives blew herself up outside an Iraqi army recruiting center in a northern town Wednesday, killing at least six people and wounding 30 in the first known attack by a female suicide bomber in the country’s bloody insurgency.

The attack in Tal Afar, where U.S. and Iraqi forces routed militants in a major offensive two weeks ago, demonstrated the difficulty of maintaining security in the towns in the large northwestern region stretching to the Syrian border, where insurgents are most active.

The woman, disguised as a man in traditional robes, was standing in line with applicants to join the Iraqi army at the first of three checkpoints outside the center when she detonated explosives hidden under her clothes and packed with metal balls, said Maj. Jamil Mohammed Sadr in Tal Afar.

It was the first known instance that a woman has carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq. In October 2003, a female bomber was caught trying to enter a government building in Baghdad before she could detonate her explosives.

Saddam Hussein’s regime used female bombers at least once during the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, when two women blew up a car at a checkpoint near the city of Haditha, killing three American soldiers days before the April 2003 fall of Baghdad.


Analysts can view this as a positive or negative sign, depending on their viewpoint. On the one hand, this could be a sign that the insurgency is spreading to the point where even the women are joining up. Conversely, this could be viewed as a sign of desperation. My guess is that this is an isolated incident and not a sign of much of anything.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, Terrorism, , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anodyne says:

    I’m not sure AP has this right. There were reports of two female suicide bombers involved in an incident during the invasion on March 29th 2003. One was named as Nur al-Shammari and Al- Jazeera reportedly aired a tape of her action statement recorded before hand. US commanders were on record as saying they viewed it as a terrorist act. I also have a vague recollection of another incident involving a female suicide bomber in Iraq in the spring of 2004. Perhaps these stories have been debunked and I missed it. Here’s a link to an April 2003 story.