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According to the Arabic media, in the course of questioning a suspected male Al Qaeda terrorist, the Iraqi police in Diyala were given the name of an Iraqi woman, Shahlaa Al-Anbaky, as someone who would soon be perpetrating a suicide bombing. The police immediately went to look for her in Mandali, a town sixty miles northeast of Baghdad. On Christmas Eve, 2010, when they could not find her, they pulled her father, Mohammed Najm al-Anbaky, a small-time trader of chickens and sheep, in for questioning.
According to the English language press, once in police custody, Mohammed admitted that he had killed his daughter as a matter of “honor” because she was presumed to have a “boyfriend” in Al Qaeda. This Mohammed was also reported to have killed one of his sisters in 1984 as a matter of “honor.” Mohammed admitted that he had strangled Shahlaa and then, for good measure, had slit her throat. Finally, he had buried her in his own backyard—not in a good Muslim cemetery—just as if his daughter was one of his chickens or sheep.
In this case, English-language readers only learn that the “honor” killing of a woman has taken place in the Arab Middle East. Arabic-language readers learn that the police were not investigating an honor killing at all but were, rather, looking into a possible terrorist attack by an Al Qaeda operative.
Indeed, earlier this year, the so-called “First Lady of Al Qaeda” (Haila Al-Qusayyer) was arrested in Saudi Arabia presumably for recruiting girls and women to become suicide killers. In addition, in December, 2009, the wife of Al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, issued a call for Muslim women to support violent jihad: “Jihad is [incumbent] on every Muslim man and woman… and [we women] should keep ourselves in the service of the Mujahideen, and we should fulfill whatever they ask of us, may it be through monetary aid to them or any service or information or suggestion or participation in fighting or even through a martyrdom operation. How many sisters have performed martyrdom operations in Palestine and Iraq and Chechnya, and vexed the enemy, and caused them a great defeat!!”
Meanwhile, back in Baghdad and Baquba, Iraq, we learn that Mohammed Najm Al-Anbaky is the kind of father and brother who is not ashamed to have murdered his female relatives for “honor” and that in neither instance was he arrested for such cold-blooded murders.
More than this is mere conjecture. Would this kind of man view a woman’s membership in Al Qaeda as “dishonorable”or is his belief that his daughter may have had a “boyfriend” the prime motive for murder?
Based on my research into honor killings, I would suggest that this, indeed, was probably the only motive. On the other hand, there is a possibility that if Mohammed al-Anbaky is a Shiite, he might view a Sunni “boyfriend” as objectionable above and beyond the fact that he had not personally chosen him as a husband for Shahlaa. It is also possible that Shahlaa had been recruited by Al Qaeda as a suicide killer. In fact, this is a growing problem both in Iraq and in the Islamic world.
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