Amman bomber confesses on TV

She allegedly joined a wedding party at the Radisson SAS hotel and then unsuccessfully tried to blow herself up.

Wearing a white head scarf, Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi spoke with calm composure as she told of her role in what officials say was a four person mission.

The 35-year-old was arrested early on Sunday as Jordanian security services stepped up their campaign to find the perpetrators.

Authorities have said 12 people have been detained and are considered suspects in the killings.

Rishawi said she and her husband entered Jordan by car on November 5, carrying fake Iraqi passports and made their way on November 9 to the Radisson hotel.

“I took one corner and my husband took another corner. There was a wedding party at the hotel with women, men and children. My husband carried out the operation. I tried to detonate (the explosives belt) but it didn’t go, so I left,” she said.

While her husband, Ali Hussein al-Shammari, blew himself up at the Radisson, their accomplices, Rawwad Jasem Mohammed Abed and Safa’ Mohammed Ali, were carrying out similar missions at two other Amman luxury hotels, the Hyatt and Days Inn.

Jordanian Deputy Prime Minister Marwan Moasher said the decision to air Rishawi’s confession was taken to give the Jordanian people some relief.

“The investigation is not over with the arrest of this woman… She will be tried in a Jordanian court and she will get a fair trial,” Moasher said.

The Deputy PM says the Rishawi’s brother, Samer Mubarak al-Rishawi, was a key aide to Al Qaeda’s Iraq frontman, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Al-Zarqawi is alleged to be mastermind behind the attacks.

Jordanian-born Zarqawi was released from jail in 1999 as part of general amnesty granted by Jordan’s King Abdullah II but was last year sentenced to death by a Jordanian court for the 2002 murder of a US diplomat.

“We have been very successful in taking down his operations in the past …(when) he used Jordanians. Now he has changed tactics, he is using foreigners. That means that our security services have to change tactics too, ” King Abdullah said.

The king insisted there was no connection between Jordan’s ties to the United States, whose military campaign in Iraq is deeply unpopular in Jordan and elsewhere in the Middle East.

“This is a strike against the people of Jordan, not the policies of Jordan,” he said.

Wednesday’s attacks also sparked fears that Iraq was now becoming a base for regional terrorism but likewise triggered global revulsion.

Syrian Film Director given hero’s burial

Syria gave a hero’s burial today to Moustapha Akkad, a local-born Hollywood producer who was killed with his daughter in Wednesday’s hotel bombings.

He is best known internationally as producer of the Halloween horror film including Halloween: Resurrection released three years ago.

But Akkad is more famous in the Arab world for directing “The Message” a film about early Islam.

Another film of his, “Lion of the Desert” starred Anthony Quinn as Omar Mukhtar, a
Libyan resistance leader fighting the Italian forces from the early part of the last century.

President Bashar al-Assad signed a decree awarding Akkad one of Syria’s top medals for “his Arab nationalist stances”.