Relatives of the woman who failed in a bid to bomb a hotel in Jordan said she was radicalized by the U.S. attack on Fallujah in November 2004 to retake the Iraqi city from insurgents. They said Sajida Rishawi, 35, had watched her husband dragging bloodied insurgent fighters through their gate, burying the dead in their back yard.
Rishawi's friends and family members in Fallujah sought to explain what drove her, after seeing footage broadcast by Jordanian state-run television that showed the captured woman modeling a suicide vest that she allegedly wore as part of coordinated bombing attacks on three hotels here that killed 57 people.
Rishawi and her husband, Ali Hussein Ali Shamari, went to the Radisson SAS Hotel as part of a team of four bombers who intended to blow themselves up at the hotels on Wednesday. According to Rishawi, she was unable to explode her vest, and her husband pushed her out of a ballroom hosting a wedding reception. Her husband and the two other male bombers died carrying out their attacks. Rishawi lived and was captured on Sunday by Jordanian police.
Her brother, Mubarak Atrous Rishawi, a top deputy for Jordanian-born insurgent leader Abu Musab Zarqawi, was one of the fighters killed in Fallujah during the fierce street battles between U.S. forces and insurgent fighters that left the city in ruins, Jordanian officials said.
In Fallujah, a relative, who would not give his name, said Rishawi became extreme "when she saw the number of people killed by the Marines. Her husband used to bring the wounded and killed to their house. They buried some of the killed in their back yard."
On Monday, Jordanian officials outlined details of Rishawi's capture, describing it as basic, precise police work. The officials disputed reports that a hotel security camera had caught Rishawi on tape. Based on leads about when the bombers came into Jordan, intelligence agents reviewed images at the border crossings with Iraq and identified the bombers, including Rishawi, the officials said.
In addition to the husband-wife team, Jordanian officials have identified the two other bombers as Rawad Jassem Mohammed Abed and Safaa Mohammed Ali, both 23.
Meanwhile, the U.S. military in Baghdad said Monday that American troops had briefly detained a man with the same name as one of the bombers in November 2004 and let him go after two weeks. The military identified the individual as Safaa Mohammed Ali.
The American military said it could not confirm that the man in its custody then was one of the bombers. But relatives in Fallujah said he was, according to Knight Ridder Newspapers, which first reported it.
Ali was picked up during the Fallujah operation, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, a U.S. military spokesman.
"A review of the circumstances of his capture by the unit determined there was no compelling evidence that he was a threat to the security of Iraq and he was therefore released," Johnson said.
In Amman, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited the bombed Radisson Hotel on Monday. He and his entourage rushed past journalists waiting for Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and toured the wreckage of the ballroom, which was obstructed from view by a newly constructed brick wall.
"We saw the outcome of the dangerous crime where there is no description for it in any dictionary," Abbas said, appearing minutes later at a bank of microphones set up for Rice. "Those do not belong to any human race, Arab or Islam. Those are affiliated to obscurity, blackness and sabotage. May God curse them from this day until Judgment Day."
Rice, arriving several hours after her intended time, briefly touched a wreath of white and yellow flowers placed near the lobby and said, "We stand as you stood by us."
A banner hanging in front of the hotel read: "Long live Jordan, land of security and safety."
In Fallujah, Ahmed Muhammed Ali, 30, a cousin of Rishawi's husband, said Shamari was a car mechanic who repaired home air conditioners on the side. He was influenced by the Zarqawi militants who controlled the city before the U.S.-led military offensive in the city, the cousin said.
"He stayed and fought in the Fallujah battles," Ali said of his cousin. In June, Shamari fled to Ramadi, another restive city in the western Anbar province of Iraq. "Then he sent for his wife to go after him, and we never heard anything about him since then," Ali said.
It could not be determined whether the couple had children.
Family members learned of the bombings in Amman in a phone call from Ramadi. "We were happy," Ali said. "We were surprised by his wife's move and bravery. We heard that their operation was in a hotel full with Mossad," Israel's intelligence service. "We were shocked when we saw on TV the number of civilians killed in the operation because we thought the killed would be Americans and Jews, but they were Muslims, regretfully."
Special correspondents Yasmin Mousa in Amman and Omar Fekeiki in Baghdad contributed to this report.