Video: Partners in crime
updated 11/15/2005 2:27:05 PM ET 2005-11-15T19:27:05

The essential element of any suicide attack is that the perpetrators not be caught under any circumstances.  Arrest and prosecution, in part, neutralize the entire premise.  They also provide a chilling insight into the minds of those willing to usurp the most realistic right of others — to live — based on the least tangible thing in the world, a twisted religious or political belief. 

An Iraqi woman confessed that she had tried to blow herself up alongside her husband in one of three attacks on Jordanian hotels last week.

But is the woman captured by authorities really the fourth bomber from last week‘s attacks in Amman?  If so, how could she have watched as her husband‘s bomb vest worked and her own did not? 

Countdown host Keith Olbermann called in NBC News terrorism analyst Steve Emerson to get the inside the minds of these alleged killers.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

KEITH OLBERMANN, COUNTDOWN HOST: We‘ll examine the questions of her credibility in a moment.  But if she is legit, how valuable is she to that investigation? 

STEVE EMERSON, NBC NEWS TERROR ANALYST: I think this is probably the most invaluable tool for investigators they could ever find.  She is a smoking gun.  She walks right back to Zarqawi, probably was personally recruited.  They have the suicide vest itself, they‘ll determine the signature, they‘ll know who drove her to the apartment, who rented the apartment.  I mean, this is a woman now with many answers in her head, if she is rational or if they could coerce it from her if she doesn‘t volunteer it. 

OLBERMANN: But if she is legit, why is she cooperating to any extent with them?  Is not the premise of this that she is not supposed to cooperate with them?  And why would she be wearing the vest on TV?  Does any of that fit psychologically with the profile of the suicide bomber? 

EMERSON: Yes.  I mean, I don‘t think we should ascribe very rational, normal behavior of somebody who gets caught and who is prepared to carry out a bombing.  I‘ve seen interrogations of those who have tried unsuccessfully to carry out bombings in Israel.  They do reveal exactly what they did.  So I don‘t think that we should believe that somehow this is a conspiracy. 

OLBERMANN: How skeptically thought might the Jordanians be looking at the specifics in that confession?  Because the idea that she would have gone into the same ballroom as her husband suggests an unusual deployment, let‘s put it that way, in terms of the resources in a multi-pronged attack, does it not? 

EMERSON: Yes, well, I mean, look.  In the end, the fact that you have a married couple willing to detonate bombs together and kill everybody else while they die themselves apparently is what motivated them.  So to ascribe somehow the regular, normal, rational, you know, logic to their behavior would be wrong here.  This is a woman who is obviously fanatical. 

So, in the end the fact is she did try to carry it out.  Or there is a possibility, Keith, that she chickened out and essentially that she ran out.  But she would not admit that on camera or in an interrogation because that would be a lot of shame to be brought to her. 

OLBERMANN: Are there pros and cons, particularly cons for the Jordanians to treat her that way?  Is it going to somehow further incite attacks against them, or is it in some ways seen as a triumph for al Qaeda that she‘s on television there in some way? 

EMERSON: I think the fact that there‘s such a conspiracy culture emerging now that‘s doubting even the validity of it would have been absolutely overwhelming if the Jordanians had announced they had captured someone but didn‘t put her on camera.  They needed to put somebody on camera and demonstrate. 

Now they‘re probably going to have to put more than just the three minutes now because there are so many unanswered questions when people look at it.  You know, we have conspiracy cultures here, but it is far more rampant there, Keith. 

OLBERMANN: Give me your assessment of the overall effect of the support or lack of terrorism in the Middle East , particularly in Jordan, but broadly after the protest marches at the end of last week in which they were shouting, 'burn in hell Abu Musab al-Zarqawi'.

EMERSON: Good question.  I‘m a little bit hesitant about drawing too many conclusions because I‘ve seen interviews with those in Jordan who have said if they carried it out against Jews, we would have supported it, but they carried it out was against Muslims, we don‘t — we reject it.  There‘s sort of a schizophrenic personality here in terms of rejecting attacks on their own but accepting it in terms of attacks on Americans in Iraq or else in Israel. 

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