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Suicide Bombers and Conflict

The link is to a Guardian article which talks about research into the background of 462 suicide bombers who have launched attacks in recent years.

It remains, however, that this identified that the bombers themselves were mainly Muslim, but in fact from all religions.

Suicide Bombing contains two main concepts that concern those on the other end of the attacks. The first is that it is an attack that is harder to protect against which is generally aimed at non-combatants. The second is that it involves the attacker consciously deciding to attack in such a way as the attacker him or herself dies.

Kamikaze is the Japanese word for "Suicide" and got into English as a result of the Suicide Air Pilots who flew planes into ships during the second world war.

The big mistake made by the western governments is to fail to look at why people become suicide bombers. It is not because governments are not "tough" on terrorism or terrorists. It is in fact that governments are too tough on innocent people. This has a tendency to wind people up and create divisions. This is what turns people into suicide bombers.

Firm action is needed to deal with actual terror plots. However, if the government went round shooting more and more innocent Brazilians you would find quite quickly a development of a Brazilian type of asymmetric attack of some form.

This is why proportion is crucial in dealing with conflicts. Disproportionate responses increase conflict rather than reducing it.

Comments

Russell said…
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1838214,00.html
Jock Coats said…
I can't count the number of times I've been arguing with people who say Islam is a terrorist/extremist faith saying that "nobody else has these mad suicide tactics".

I have long felt, just from how I sometimes feel when I get involved in some injustice that makes me angry, that this final act of violent abandon is more to do with feeling that there is no other way, because of oppression or suppression, of making a stand against an injustice that makes one feel that life is otherwise not worth living anyway.
Tristan said…
Havn't most suicide bombers in the last 20/30 years been Tamil Tigers?
Aren't they also either Hindu (or from Hindu families) or opposed to all religion?

Muslims don't have the monopoly on such tactics, and didn't originate them...
john said…
You might be right. Wikipedia (not fundamentally reliable, but not that bad either) says that 270 Black Tigers have died in attacks.

I am not sure how many were actually suicide attacks, but it does bring the league table close.

I would think that suicide attacks have been going on since before the Qu'ran was written.

It is going to be a close run thing between Muslims and Hindus then. I have ordered the book and perhaps should try to do a league table of number of suicide bombers by religion. This would make the point that it is not something directly linked to religion.
Simon said…
All very interesting, but imagining that recourse to suicide bombing always has the same pathology is manifestly incorrect. The particular phenomenon of suicide bombing by some Muslims has a completely different pathology to that, say, of the Japanese Kamikaze pilots. In this, Jock is completely correct.

However, where John's analysis runs into serious problems is with the implied assertion that somehow the causal responsibility for suicide bombing is to be placed on Government's being too tough on people:

It is not because governments are not "tough" on terrorism or terrorists. It is in fact that governments are too tough on innocent people. This has a tendency to wind people up and create divisions. This is what turns people into suicide bombers.

This entirely ignores the role that extremists have in fomenting terrorism, in recruiting, in indoctrinating, in persuading and, ultimately, tricking someone into exploding themselves and others. It ignores the responsibility that has to be placed on the individual who dehumanises himself or herself and becomes a human bomb.

You have got to stop blaming yourself what others do. This Western self-hatred is becoming all consuming with you guys.

But, you want more evidence? Well, John's rather simplistic assertion does not help explain what happened on 7/7 when four British men decided to blow up dozens of their fellow citizens.
john said…
There always have been laws against inciting people to commit offences. Blowing people up has always been an offence.

Where the difficulties lie is when more and more people become sympathetic to the weaker part of an asymmetric conflict.

I am quite happy to be "tough" on the guilty. It is being "tough" on the innocent that I have problems with.

I have ordered a few books about this and will do a bit more analysis based upon what common threads I can find.
shaz said…
"This entirely ignores the role that extremists have in fomenting terrorism, in recruiting, in indoctrinating, in persuading and, ultimately, tricking someone into exploding themselves and others. It ignores the responsibility that has to be placed on the individual who dehumanises himself or herself and becomes a human bomb."

The above is all relating to symptoms to underlying issues, which John made mention to.

Extremism/terrorism doesn't come out of a vaccum, histrocally it did suit the "West" to support such terrorist orgainistions when they were turning on their own governments and people - rise of Islamic Jihad in Egypt is an example other such groups that were "fomented" since 1889 in India and Arabia to weaken the strength of the Ottaman Empire.

There are causes,speaking about these issues is not as 'fashionable' as you make it sound. When Noam Chomsky speaks about the tyranny of Israel, he is labelled "a self-hating Jew", similarly were now hearing calls to simply ingnore our role in creating the causes of many of the problems in the Middle East and deal with symptoms. It's not going to work...

Another interesting fact, the first suicide bombing to have taken place in Israel was by the the Red Brigade, as i understand it, a communist organsiation, who don't even believe in the concept of God.
TonyF said…
You really ought to learn Japanese John.
Kamikaze is not the Japanese word for suicide, that is Hara Kiri.
Kamikaze is 'Divine Wind'.The name given to the Typhoon that destroyed the invading Mongol fleet around the 12th/ 13th Century, hence the Japanese pilots sent on the suicide missions to destroy the invading Americans were called Kamikaze.
TonyF said…
The other word for suicide, by the way, is seppuku. Thought you went to University? Didn't they teach history? Incidentally, if you think Kamikaze means suicide I would advise you not to go to Japan. The Kamikaze are still held in reverence there
john said…
I will accept that Tony is right. My daughter speaks Japanese. I do not. A kamikaze mission, however, in English means a suicide mission.
Jock Coats said…
Did Sampson (as in he and Delilah) survive his suicidal attack on the Phillistine (the etymylogical origin of Palestinian) temple? Would that be the first recorded suicide attack...:)
shaz said…
"Did Sampson (as in he and Delilah) survive his suicidal attack on the Phillistine (the etymylogical origin of Palestinian) temple? Would that be the first recorded suicide attack...:)"

Biblical justification for suicide bombing!(?)

Maybe Johns research on this topic can start from Chapter 13: Judges.
john said…
To be honest I think the invention of gunpowder had more of an impact than any theological component.
TonyF said…
Biblical justification for suicide bombing!(?)

Only it wasn't a bombing, was it!

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