Her nickname is Um al-Mumenin — it means "mother of all believers" — and she was arrested for recruiting more than 80 women to be suicide bombers and masterminding 28 bombings throughout Iraq.
While violence has eased throughout the struggling country, the number of women carrying out suicide bombings has sharply risen according to US military numbers: 36 women in 2008 compared to eight in 2007. Unlike men who are promised everlasting paradise for martyrdom, there is little in it for women. The unsuspecting middle-age madam capitalized on this inequity by orchestrating rapes, only to convince women afterward that suicide bombing was the only way to escape their shame.
Women are ideal candidates because the long, flowing black robes they traditionally wear glide through security. The fact that most checkpoints are guarded by men, who allow them to pass without being searched, only makes things easier.
For now, the only relief in sight is that the US military is recruiting women for Iraqi security who can search women and, hopefully, counter the threat.