The televised confession of an Iraqi woman — accused of being the fourth would-be suicide attacker — set Jordanians buzzing Monday, with some expressing joy over her capture and others venting anger over her deadly plans.
Still others questioned if she was really involved in the bomb plot that killed 57 people in Wednesday's attacks on the Radisson SAS, Grand Hyatt and Days Inn hotels.
Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi went from rural Iraqi obscurity to global notoriety overnight after her confession was aired Sunday in a broadcast beamed not just across Jordan, but throughout the Middle East and beyond.
"I sat there watching and couldn't understand how she could be speaking so coldly," said Adel Fathi, 29. Three of his relatives were killed in the Radisson wedding party reception that was bombed by al-Rishawi's husband.
"What are these people made of?" asked Fathi, who closed his women's accessories shop early and joined millions of others who watched the confession.
Al-Rishawi, from the militant hotbed of Ramadi and the sister of a slain lieutenant of Jordanian-born militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, was arrested Sunday.
CBS News correspondent David Hawkins reports al Qaeda in Iraq tripped up when it claimed responsibility for the Amman bombing and said it sent four suicide bombers including a husband and wife team. Since only three suicide bombers bodies were found, it tipped off authorities to hunt for the fourth.
"My husband detonated (his bomb) and I tried to explode (mine) but it wouldn't," al-Rishawi said during the three-minute televised segment. She appeared anxious and wore a white headscarf. "People fled running and I left running with them."
Al-Rishawi was made to display the clothing she wore into the party in which at least 25 people were killed by her husband, Ali Hussein Ali al-Shamari, also 35.
In a separate development, American forces detained and later released an Iraqi with the same name as one of the hotel suicide attackers, the U.S. military said Monday.
Jordanian authorities said Safaa Mohammed Ali, 23, was among the suicide attackers who struck last Wednesday.
A statement by the U.S. command said someone by that name was detained in November 2004 in connection with the American assault on the insurgent stronghold of Fallujah. The command said it could not confirm whether the person detained was the same man who took part in the Amman attack.
"He was detained locally at the division detention facility" but was released two weeks later because there was no "compelling evidence to continue to hold him" as a "threat to the security of Iraq."
In her television appearance, al-Rishawi opened her dark fur-collared body-length overcoat to reveal two crude explosives belts — one packed with RDX and the other ball-bearings. They were strapped to her waist front and back with a thick binding of silver tape.
"It was scary to see her with her bomb but at least we know who she is and she can be punished," said Anwar Nazih, a 15-year-old schoolgirl.
Many Jordanians, however, expressed doubt al-Rishawi's confession was real or that she was even involved in the plot.
"I don't buy it. There are many contradictions, and it just doesn't make sense," said Mohammed al-Fakhiri, a 33-year-old mobile telephone shop owner in the Jordanian, capital, Amman.
"The first thing she would have done is get rid of her explosive belt," al-Fakhiri said. "So how come she was caught with it."
He also said al-Rishawi claimed that her husband had detonated his explosives apparently before she fled.
"So how come she wasn't wounded?"
Jordanian Deputy Premier Marwan Muasher told reporters Sunday that her husband noticed she was having problems detonating her bomb and pushed her out of the wedding ballroom before blowing himself up.
Al-Rishawi said her husband exploded his belt and she couldn't detonate hers. But it wasn't clear from her comments whether her husband blew himself up before her bomb malfunctioned of after.
Responding to a TV interviewer's questions, the meek-looking al-Rishawi said her husband made all the arrangements for the plot. He drove both of them and two other men — apparently bombers Rawad Jassem Mohammed Abed and Safaa Mohammed Ali, both 23 — to Amman. He also fitted her with the belt and ordered a taxi to take them to the Radisson.
"Her weak soul, her entourage and her husband made her carry out this horrible act because usually women are more sensitive toward such acts," said 33-year-old pharmacist Salma al-Qusous.
"But believe me, I felt disgusted (watching the confession) and this heartless woman deserves the harshest punishment," al-Qusous said.
Investigators are still interrogating al-Rishawi, who officials believe may provide a key link to al Qaeda in Iraq leader al-Zarqawi and provide insights into the terror group's operations.
But questioning was slow, apparently because she still suffered from the shock of the attacks and her subsequent arrest, a security official said Monday.
Authorities believe more people helped arrange the attacks, but it was unclear if they were among 12 suspects arrested in connection with the bombings.