What makes suicide bombers tick? Is it religions upbringing with promises of paradise in reward for acts of martyrdom? Is it the parental support he or she receives for his convictions? Is it society with no means of fighting back against oppression and humiliation? (http://www.israelinsider.com/channels/security/articles/sec0049.htm). In this paper I will discuss the characteristics of a suicide bomber, their mission, as well as discuss suicide attacks.
Suicide bombers are said to believe that God sends them on their missions, and by the time they are ready to be stopped with explosives, they had reached a hypnotic state. (http://www.israelinsider.com/channels/security/articles/sec0049.htm) As one can see, religion is a powerful factor. Though the Koran teaches against taking one’s own life, the suicide bombers are seen as martyrs and are said to be living in the heavens. (http://www.cnn.com/2001/world/hanna.focus) However, it is stated that suicide is forbidden in Islam. However, fighting oppression is commendable, harming innocent bystanders, even in times of war, was forbidden by the prophet Muhammad. (www.israelinsider.com/channels/security/articles/sec0049.htm) Suicide bombers are very complex. They are never justified in their actions. According to Yediot Aharonot, this is the profile of a typical suicide bomber:
1.97% of the suicide bombers have an academic education and an additional 28% have at least a high school education.
2.83% of suicide bombers are single.
3.64% of the suicide bombers are between the ages 18-23; most of the rest are under 30 years of age, and
4.68% of the suicide bombers have come from the Gaza Strip. (http://www.israelinsider.com)
Suicide bombers carry explosives on his/her body or in a vehicle driven by his/herself and, by personal choice and with full self-awareness, approach a previously chosen target and blows his/herself up. (Yoram Schweitzer, ICT Researcher) The suicide bomber, in accordance with prevailing circumstances, chooses the time and place to execute the explosion so that it will cause the maximum damage tot the target. (http://www.ict.org.il)
According to Edwin Schneidman, there are ten characteristics of suicide: (“Definition of Suicide” 1985)
1.The common stimulus is “unendurable psychological pain.”
2.The common stress in suicide is “frustrated psychological need.”
3.The common purpose of suicide is “to seek a solution.”
4.The common goal of suicide is “cessation of consciousness.”
5.The common emotion in suicide is “hopelessness-helplessness.”
6.The common internal attitude toward suicide is “ambivalence.”
7.The common cognitive state in suicide is “constriction.”
8.The common interpersonal act in suicide is “communication of intrusion.”
9.The common action in suicide is “egression” (a way out).
10.The common consistency in suicide is with “life-long coping patterns.” (http://www.counterpunch.org/sbahour8.htm1)
However, knowing all these characteristics are helpful, only the person carrying out their suicide knows the underlying reason.
Suicide attacks by terrorists are occurring more often, however, it is nothing new. Suicide attacks can be traced back to the Jewish Sicaris in the 1st century, among Moslem Hashishiyum in the 11th century, and among the Asians in the 18th century. (http://www.ict.org.il) Members of the Palestinian organization perpetrated high-risk attacks, which almost cross the border into the realms of suicide terrorism in the early twentieth century. (http://www.ict.org.il) Modern suicide terrorism is unique. In the last two decades, one or more persons who are aware they are “human time bombs” have carried out suicide attacks. Suicide attacks depend primarily on whether the perpetrator is killed. (http://www.ict.org.il) If the mission is not complete, then it is not complete, and then it is not considered a suicide bombing. Therefore, suicide attacks can be defined as a violent, politically motivated attack, carried out in deliberate state of awareness by a person who blows himself up together with his chosen target. (Yoram Schweitzer, ICT Researcher) There have been well over 300 suicide attacks carried out in 14 countries by 17 terror organizations as of the middle of 2001. (http://www.ict.org.il)
There are many motives for suicide attacks: religious beliefs, nationalistic ideologies, or obedience to charismatic and authoritarian leaders. For the organizations that have used such tactics, the common denominator is their success in causing large-scale casualties and negatively influencing public morale, while at the same time entirely failing to change regimes or to force their governments to surrender to their strategic demands. (http://www.ict.org.il/articles)
It is said that Islam reserves places in paradise for those who give their lives for an Islamic cause. However, Islam forbids the killing of oneself and innocent bystanders. If such actions are forbidden how can one believe he or she will go to paradise. The predominant theme in the Koran is forgiveness and peace. Causing chaos and disrupting peace seems to be going against the teachings of the Koran. I guess in the end God will judge those who have chose suicide (martyrdom), as a means to reaching paradise.
Suicide Bombings, the Ultimate Weapon?, Yoram Schweitzer, ICT Researcher
Suicide Bombers, (www.islam.about.com)
Why We Have Become Suicide Bombers- Understanding Palestinian Terror; Dr. Eyad
What Makes Suicide Bombers Tick?; Elise Shuman (www.israelinsider.com)
Suicide Bombers Win Public Honor; Parents Grieve in Private. (www.cnn.com)
The Making of a Suicide Attacker. Are Palestinians Human?; Sam Bahour and LeilaBahour (www.counterpunch.org)