Last updated: 25 January, 2015

Failed Iraq woman bomber wanted by IS in Japan hostage case

Sajida al-Rishawi, whose release is demanded by the Islamic State jihadist group that claimed the murder of a Japanese hostage, is a would-be Iraqi female suicide bomber on death row in Jordan.

Rishawi was sentenced to death in 2006 for triple hotel bomb attacks in Amman that killed 60 people on November 9. 2005, rocking one of the Middle East’s most stable nations.

The 44-year-old woman was arrested four days after the attacks in which her husband Ali Hussein al-Shammari and two other Iraqis, blew themselves up.

The heaviest casualties came when Shammari detonated his explosives belt at the Radisson SAS hotel as a wedding was in full swing.

Two other hotels were hit in the coordinated attacks and most of the dead were Jordanians.

After her arrest, Jordanian authorities paraded Rishawi on state television for her to confess that she had accompanied her husband to Jordan to carry out the attacks.

During her televised confession, Rishawi displayed an explosives belt strapped across her long black robe and spoke calmly about how the operation was to have been carried out.

Rishawi, who appeared with a white head scarf, said that at the last minute she had not managed to activate her belt to blow herself up.

She said her husband was one of the bombers, that they had travelled from Iraq using fake passports and he had shown her how to activate the explosives.

Her trial opened in April 2006, with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, also on the charge sheet.

Jordanian-born Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air raid in Iraq in June 2006, had claimed the triple bombings in Amman.

Rishawi, whose brother Samir Atruss al-Rishawi, a Zarqawi lieutenant also killed in Iraq, was condemned to death three months later for conspiracy in a terrorist attack.

A video released Saturday by the Islamic State, of which Zarqawi’s group was a precursor, shows images of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photograph of the slain body of his compatriot Haruna Yukawa.

The video was released with an audio recording in which a man claiming to be Goto blames Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his fellow captive’s death because he failed to pay a $200 million ransom.

The voice also reveals a new demand for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, saying the militants are no longer demanding money to save his life, but want “their sister” to be freed.

“It is simple. You give them Sajida and I will be released,” the voice says.

Japan dispatched a minister to Jordan earlier this week. Shinzo has declined to comment on whether he would ask Amman to release Sajida.