A suicide bomber captured before he could blow himself up in a Shiite mosque claimed he was kidnapped, beaten and drugged by insurgents who forced him to take on the mission. The U.S. military said its medical tests indicated the man was telling the truth.
Mohammed Ali, who claimed to be Saudi-born and appeared to be in his 20s, said he managed to flee after another suicide attacker set off his bomb, killing at least 12 worshippers Friday as they left a mosque in the northern city of Tuz Khormato.
In confession broadcast on state television later that day, Ali told Iraqi interrogators he did not want to bomb the mosque and hoped to go home.
Results from medical tests on Ali were “consistent with his story and characterization of his treatment,” Col. Billy J. Buckner, a U.S. military spokesman said Sunday.
Ali said insurgents kidnapped him from a field near his home earlier this month, then drugged and beat him.
His story was similar to those recounted by other captured militants. The captives routinely claim they were either coerced or fooled by insurgent leaders who promised them a role in the holy war against the U.S. military, only to find themselves as would-be suicide bombers sent to attack civilians.
Musab Aqil al-Khayal, a 19-year-old Syrian, was shown on state television Saturday confessing to his aborted involvement in a bombing earlier in the week in which a companion exploded his car bomb in the midst of day laborers assembled to find work. The Wednesday attack killed 112 people and wounded 250. Al-Khayal said handlers from the al-Qaida in Iraq terror group had duped him.
“Those dogs fooled me,” he told Iraqi interrogators.
Televised interrogations and confessions are becoming increasingly common as Iraqi and American officials capture more militants and use their confessions in an attempt to undercut support for militants.
Ali, who also holds Iraqi citizenship, said he strapped on a crude suicide vest and was led to a second mosque in Tuz Khormato, about 130 miles north of Baghdad, “where he was told he would become a good Muslim and go to heaven if he carried out the attack,” the U.S. military statement said.
Forced to enter the mosque, he waited until the others were distracted, ran out of the building and was arrested just minutes after the first attack, the statement said.
The kidnapping demonstrates the desperation of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his ability to execute his strategy,” said Buckner.
“He knows that he can’t win against Iraqi security and coalition forces, and is therefore willing to use innocent Iraqi citizens to further his cause to disrupt the election process and prevent a free and democratic Iraq,” he said.