Trying to Look Female Suicide Bombers in the Eye

Reports have it that Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman, attempted to blow up wedding celebrators, passerbyers and herself at the Radisson Hotel in Amman last Thursday. The Associated Press is reporting that her brother Thamer al-Rishawi “was killed during a U.S. assault on Fallujah in April 2004, when an air-to-ground missile hit his pickup as he was driving wounded people to a hospital, according to Ramadi residents speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution from militants.”

There are lots of reasons to doubt virtually every bit of information one gets from the mainstream media, particularly in situations like these — including the implication that the above-cited sources do not fear retribution from U.S. militants and their proxies. But if the AP’s words bear a resemblance to the actual facts, this case would have some similarities to the that of Hanadi Jaradat.

Hanadi Jaradat, as “a 29-year-old lawyer from Jenin [in occupied Palestine], blew herself up in the Haifa Maxim restaurant in early October [2003], killing 21, including four children. Her younger brother Fadi was executed by an Israeli undercover unit in front of her, despite her trying to protect him. On June 12th [2003], three days before Fadi’s [planned] wedding, the family was in the courtyard of the house. Salah Jaradat, Fadi’s cousin and a member of Islamic Jihad, came to visit his pregnant wife, Ismath, and their two-year-old son, who were living with the family.” The Israelis killed Salah, Fadi and threatened Hanadi. Four months later, Hanadi took out her “revenge” on people who were nowhere in sight around when her brother and cousin were slain. [see: here]

A month ago, I put up a “profile” of Hanadi Jaradat on the trendy “soft porn” webpage SuicideGirls, giving her the identity RealSuidiceGirl. I was trying to get people to examine the reality of female suicide bombers. Hanadi Jaradat didn’t do it for the promise of seventy, or however many it is, virgins; except maybe to desperately, disifiguredly provide them with a better life. I doubt she did it because some imam told her to. What she did was inhumane, but she, as a human, is crying out to be understood.

But the motivations of suicide bombers, particularly females, are typically ignored or explained away. Are they really just victims of patriarchy? These women are seeming to end their lives for a cause, but so few, in the U.S. at least, seem to curious about what their motives are for such a definitive act. Is this because so many people in these United States don’t seem to believe in anything at all, yet — or is it “and so” — desperately cling to extraordinarily empty lives?

Here was my profile of Hanadi Jaradat on SuicideGirls.com:

MEMBER: RealSuicideGirl

MEMBER SINCE: October 2005

AGE: 30 (Sep 22, 1975)

LOCATION: Palestine


SIGN: I’ve seen it.

OCCUPATION: Law, until that proved insufficient.

STATS: Don’t commodify people.


FAVORITE BANDS: Chrissy Hynde.

FAVORITE FILMS: Battle of Algiers.

FAVORITE BOOKS: The Qur’an, The Bible, Give Me Liberty: The Uncompromising Statesmanship of Patrick Henry

FAVORITE TV SHOWS: Xena the Warrior Princess.

VICES: Deadly revenge.

CURRENT CRUSH: Mordechai Vanunu.

INTO: Fighting oppression.

MOST HUMBLING MOMENT: You have to ask?

5 ITEMS I CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT: I only wanted two: My brother and justice.

MAKES ME HAPPY: Family. The Act of Sacrifice.

MAKES ME SAD: Israeli colonial aggression. Your imperialist government. Your lying media. Your passivity. The need for sacrifice.

GETS ME HOT: You have a very crude culture, the way you talk of such things.


FAVORITE SEXUAL POSITION: My mother — who I actually talk about
these things with — tells me she really enjoys something I can hardly
wait to try — oh, no, I guess I’ll have to

FANTASY: For you to understand.

CURRENT THOUGHTS ON SG: I hate it [this was a choice on their very
limited pulldown menu; I had wanted to say “Shallow sensuality attempting to distract people from the political horrors of this world; yet, it’s some kind of human contact, sort of.”]

WEBSITE: http://www.aztlan.net/women_martyrs.htm

WISHLIST: http://www.al-awda.org

A snapshot of an earlier version of the profile was taken by Machination, which also blogged about it; Netporn-l chatted about it. Within a few days, SuicideGirls.com took down the profile, without explanation. My emailing the founder, missy@suicidegirls.com produced no results. So much for frank, open discussion in the lofty tradition of Western liberalism on this forum it seems.

SAM HUSSEINI’s webpage is www.husseini.org


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Sam Husseini is founder of the website VotePact.org

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