(Jim Muir, This is not the first time pilgrims have been targeted and it must be hard to protect these crowds). Yes, very hardï¿½and they come on foot so for days there have been processions of Shiite pilgrims making their way through the middle of town. It's hard to imagine policing them completely, and it's hard to stop suicide bombers and especially women, who can pose as pilgrims themselves. This seems to be an increasingly popular tactic. (Who's responsible for this attack?) The American military believe it's either Al Qaeda or a related Sunni Jihadist group, and it falls in line with their tactics. (What will these attacks do to the confidence of the people of Iraq?) I think people have gotten used to the fact that a lot of the violence has gone away, but there's always a risk when one goes out in public. Bombs are becoming the exception rather than the rule as violence has gone down over the last year. (What's the response to the fact that most if not all the suicide bombers were women?) There is shock but this has been done because almost all other options for insurgents have been taken away, and women can elude detection more easily.
(Eric Rosenbach, how common is it that most of the suicide bombers today were women?) It's a trend that's been increasing especially over the past yearï¿½in 2007 there were 8 bombings attributed to women, whereas this year alone there have been 25. (It is easier for women to carry out suicide attacks, so do cultural sensitivities get in the way of security?) The cultural sensitivities play a big role in which Al Qaeda have employed women suicide bombers. What the American military has done in response is form corps, including the Daughters of Iraq comprised of Iraqi women who are willing to do these types of searches and contribute to security. This is working out pretty well, even though there are 500 women in all of Iraq, compared to a much, much larger number of men involved in Sons of Iraq. The American military is bolstering the training for women who want to do this. (Describe generally what the profile is of a typical female suicide bomber?) Each case is unique but some trends are the women are related or married to an Iraqi Sunni who is a member of Al Qaeda or Iraq or who has been killed by Iraqi or American military forces. (Is it easy to track down who these women might be then?) It's harder than you might think, just sorting through the maze of these personnel questions. (Does this give one the impression that the security situation in Iraq is changing?) Well, Al Qaeda is becoming more desperate to try to attack both Iraqis and Americans.