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Analyst: Accused bomber responding to interrogators

CNN security analyst Ken Robinson


On the Scene
Acts of terror

(CNN) -- Jordanian authorities have detained an Iraqi woman accused of planning to be the fourth suicide bomber in last week's attacks in Amman that killed 57 people.

CNN anchor Miles O'Brien spoke Monday with CNN security analyst Ken Robinson about Saijida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, who described in a televised confession how the attacks were planned.

O'BRIEN: Let's talk about ... what's going on right now, the interrogation of this woman. What do we know about Jordanian tactics, and what do you suppose she might know?

ROBINSON: Well, Jordanian tactics are not the same as those in the West, and they're pretty direct. But it appears that this woman is responding. ...

O'BRIEN: So when you say direct, is she being tortured?

ROBINSON: I don't think so.


ROBINSON: I think she's responding to the direct approach ... which is, did you do it? Yes, I did, and here's how I did it. She appears to be reconciled with her fate, and she's simply answering exactly what she did and what her role in it [was] as she knew it.

O'BRIEN: Why do you think the Jordanians were so quick to put her videotaped confession on television?

ROBINSON: I think it was very important for the king to be able to demonstrate that his security services were involved in solving this problem. It also demonstrates so that they can hear her accent and know that she was from Iraq and not a Jordanian.

They make very clear distinctions between accents and between family names of knowing tribally where someone is from to show that it wasn't a Jordanian issue, it was an Iraqi issue, it was outsiders.

O'BRIEN: Why are Iraqis exporting this brand of terrorism?

ROBINSON: Well, I don't know that it's Iraqis. ... It's interesting that Iraqis have chosen to become suicide bombers.

We haven't seen a lot of that. We've seen a lot of Sunnis from Saudi Arabia or from Syria do it. This is, in my mind, an interesting point.

The issue of [Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab] al-Zarqawi exporting and trying to attack the Hashemite kingdom is because he hates it. He wants to overthrow it. He wants to see the king gone.

He has a lot of bad blood between him and that regime. They imprisoned him before. He has been sentenced to death in absentia from there.

He tried to blow up the same hotel during the millennium, the millennium bombing plot which was thwarted by the Jordanians. And his intent is to take the Hashemite kingdom down to create instability in the Middle East and to try to take the Middle East back to the 13th century. Miles, they want to go back to Wahhabism and Salafism.

O'BRIEN: Well, let's get -- let's get a little perspective check here, because we've been talking so much about how these spontaneous demonstrations in the streets of Amman have indicated kind of a backlash there. The other side of this, and we wouldn't see any evidence of this that we could get videotape of, is this might very well create a whole new realm of recruits, Jordanian recruits, to engage in that kind of -- that kind of act in Jordan as well as fueling the terror campaign in Iraq.

ROBINSON: Well, I think that the U.S. presence is the largest magnet toward fueling recruitment ... within the Iraqi area. It has created a magnet that is drawing these jihadists from all over.

I think that because they targeted a wedding, which is the basic element of their structure of culture of union of two tribes, unions of people, the most heinous type of a target they could have selected, I think it's going to have just the opposite effect. It will be very divisive and cause the Jordanians to become very nationalistic.

Now, there are certain disenfranchised Jordanians who are really Palestinian who have been crossing over into Iraq and joining al-Zarqawi.

O'BRIEN: A quick final thought. Did the bomb really not detonate, or did she get cold feet? What do you think?

ROBINSON: You know, there's really no way to tell, Miles, except for the forensics of the people that actually hold the trigger. I think it could go either way.

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