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Phenomenon of Suiside Bombers

  • Date Submitted: 10/25/2015 04:32 PM
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The Phenomenon of Suicide Bombers
While terrorism is not a new phenomenon and has always carried a high risk for its perpetrators, what is new is the desire of certain individuals to kill others while killing themselves. The most striking epidemiological feature of suicide bombing is its almost epidemic-like increase over the last decades.

Suicide bombing attacks have become a weapon of choice among terrorist groups because of their ability to cause fear. Though depressing, the almost daily news reports of deaths caused by suicide attacks rarely explain what motivates the attackers. Between 1981 and 2006, 1200 suicide attacks constituted 4 percent of all terrorist attacks in the world and killed 14,599 people or 32 percent of all terrorism related deaths. The question is why?

The Suicide Terrorism Database in Flinders University in Australia, the most comprehensive in the world, holds information on suicide bombings in Iraq, Palestine-Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, which together accounted for 90 per cent of all suicide attacks between 1981 and 2006. Analysis of the information gives some interesting clues: It is politics more than religious fanaticism that has led terrorists to blow themselves up.

The evidence from the database largely discredits the common wisdom that the personality of suicide bombers and their religion are the principal cause. It shows that though religion can play a vital role in recruiting and motivating potential future suicide bombers, the driving force is not religion but a cocktail of motivations including politics, humiliation, revenge, retaliation and altruism.

Apart from one demographic attribute – that the majority of suicide bombers tend to be young males – the evidence has failed to find a stable set of demographic, psychological, socioeconomic and religious variables that can be causally linked to suicide bombers’ personality or socioeconomic origins. Typically, most suicide bombers are psychologically...

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