Friday, September 1

Suicide Bombers & Violence

What brings Suicide Bombers to detonate themselves and cause loss of life to innocent bystanders? Is it a religious fervour, the fragrant perfume of promised paradise for martyrdom?

In Islam suicide is forbidden and its incidence is at a lower pro rata rate to population than the West. A taking of a life is only allowed by way of justice with the death penalty for murder, but it is also acknowledged that forgiveness is better. Harming innocent bystanders, even in war, is forbidden under the Qur’an. On a personal level Muslims are generally peaceful, honest, hard working, civic minded people, no different to any other societies. The profile of the Suicide Bombers is not as you would expect. About 50% have a university degree; the majority are aged 18-23 and indistinuisble from the general populace. The largest share doesn’t come from Bush's proclaimed axis of evil, but from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

The crux of the matter and what brings fear to the mind is the term Jihad, which is to exert utmost effort, to strive, to struggle. Jihad has many different meanings, but it is simplistically attributed in non Islamic cultures to a “Religious War”. It has the same negative connotation in the West as “Crusade” has in the Islamic world, an association there with the Christen Crusaders who fought the Muslims for control of the Holy Land. The Link to a religious fervour as a precursor to violence is indeed a tenuous one. You might say Islamic fundamentalism is an enabler, rather than a motivator for theses acts of Terror. Violence and conflict in the region is largely a secular struggle, unconnected to religion. For example when Israel withdrew from 70% of it occupation of Gaza, captured mostly in the 7day war 40 years earlier, the number of suicide attacks by Hamas reduced by 90%. This type of example in the region is duplicated in every conflict. Dr Robert Pape from the University of Chicago sums up the position very well in my opinion: What nearly all suicide terrorist attacks actually have in common is specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.

Religion is often used as a tool by terrorist organisations in recruiting and in seeking aid from abroad, but it is rarely the root cause.The general pattern in data supports these conclusions.
First, nearly all suicide terrorist attacks –301 of the 315 I studied –took place as part of organised political or military campaigns.

Second democracies are uniquely vulnerable to suicide terrorists: America, France, and India. Israel, Russia. Sri Lanka and Turkey have been the targets of almost every suicide attack of the past two decade.
Third suicide terrorist campaigns are directed toward a strategic objective from Lebanon to Israel to Sri Lanka to Kashmir to Chechnya. The sponsors of every campaign-18 organisations in all-are seeking to maintain political self determination.Before Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 there was no Hezbollah suicide terrorist campaign against Israel; indeed Hezbollah came into existence only after this event. Before the Sri Lankan military began moving into Tamil homelands of the Island in 1987, the Tamil Tigers did not use suicide attacks. Before the increase in the Jewish settlers on the West bank in the 1980”s Palestinian groups did not use suicide terrorist, and true to form, there has never been documented suicide attack in Iraq until the American Invasion in 2003

It is essential America stage a planned withdrawal from Iraq. In fact I believe this is already occurring to a mild degree, despite recent rhetoric to the contrary, as there are currently 3 less brigades in operation.

I am quite sure If America had understood better the nature of the true conflicts in the region, factions kept at bay by a brutal Dictator, it would not have invaded Iraq ion the first place. I also think behind the scenes in Washington there is a growing realisation the US must get out of Iraq in a staged manner. Keep your eyes on the numbers of brigades not the rhetoric in the months ahead.

I laso think ther idea being advanced by the US that if we don’t fight theses Terrorists in Iraq, they will come after you in the USA and elsewhere is a fanciful notion.

We all know the weapons of mass destruction were a complete furphy; and I think history will judge the decision to invade Iraq one of the worst ill conceived wars in modern day times. It will take along time for America to recover from is loss of credibility in the world stage, to be respected as genuine peacekeeper who is able to help make the world a better a place.


Elizabeth Green said...

It will take a long time for America to be viewed that way because it isn't true. I think the American Government has an agenda, just like the suicide bombers.

I agree that Iraq never should have been invaded, but if you are waiting for George Bush to admit he made a mistake and listen to reason, you might as well wait for pigs to fly. It's not gonna happen. All we can do is wait for 2008.

Gary said...

Lindsay, this is a great post. I've also been reading about the motivation of suicide bombers - and it does require some analysis. There are political objectives as there have been with many armed movements... and this tactic is working. Imagine what Northern Ireland would be like the past 50 years if this were the tactic?

Humiliate people, destroy their culture, marginalize their ability to affect their lives and invade their territory. NOt a good recipe for reducing a threat, is it?

If you look at Hezbollah, they add taking care of their people to the mix as well. Housing, food, compensation, tools, education - all provided by Hezbollah (funded by Iran to a large extent). Why couldn't the fight be around who can help people the most, rather than who can blow the most up? (I'm serioius.)

By the way, the US slipped about 14,000 more troops into Iraq this week. It seems the President wants one good push before they figure out any sort of reduction strategy.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Liz
Yet I am a probably far too optimistic, but I do believe there is a lot of contrary advice to the current administrations stance being considered, but politicians can’t admit to policy mistakes like that!! Especially when young lives have been sacrificed to an ideal that is an illusion, fighting for freedom!!

Hi Gary
The Bush recipe was always going to create more instability and conflict, since I don’t think they understood the situation in the region.
Any young student of public relations, could find no better example than Hezbollah, as in Lebanon their presence is broadcast in large signage to all its citizens as they provide help, provisions, re building, a constant reminder it is Hezbollah and not the Lebanese Govt or the UN who is in control and at their side at their time of need!!

Your idea we fight one another to see who could do the most good is a novel one, and a wonderful thought. Commuinities seem to be able to do that sometimes in times of need.

Best wishes

laura said...

I am not being allowed to log in under my normal account - not sure what's going on!

This may post more than once because something weird keeps happening...

Definitely, Americans are in favor of pulling out of Iraq. However, it does not at all seem the current administration has any desire to do so.

The Republicans are extremely concerned about losing control of Congress so Bush is on an another all-out campaign to change the mind of the American people in support of the war efforts - see Aug. 30 USA Today article.

We have become (or maybe I should say we have returned to being) a nation of evangelistic ideals. To the evangelists, Bush is still the "real deal" and he's been quit effective in swaying public opinion

laura said...

BTW - that's me, Laura at

DellaB said...

Hi Lindsay, thank you for this post, very enlightening. I must confess I generally try to turn off when discussion turns to the nasties in life. Not because I don't care, but because I do; I am just shell-shocked with disaster and war and anger and hate, but I am also concerned because I know first-hand the Australian propensity for racism, and I can see that the wounds being caused in our society will take a long time to heal.

Isn't it a sad thing to realise that there was obviously a reason for the militant despotism of Iraq - those people are not going to live together in peace in our life time, not willingly anyway.

om shanti

JuBlue said...

Lindsay, I think the powers-that-be were determined to invade Iraq for reasons that are known mostly to them (but it's most likely economic, of course), and nothing would deter them. They manipulated information to get what they wanted. Nothing would have stopped them.

Good post. When people have no legitimate poltical outlet, they will turn to whatever means they have at their disposal, I guess. Still, I abhor violence against the innocent as a tool for leverage, and the use of religion as an excuse to commit violence (no matter the religious orientation) is causing me to develop a distinct distaste for all religion.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Laura, Dellab, Jublu
Laura- I have noticed how Bush is supposedly strong on security/ terror. Personally I don’t think they have the slightest idea what to do, in this so called War against terror.
Dellab -I don’t usually do posts on such aspects, but recent reading led me to different perspectives, hence the post.
Jublu -Yes the new administration when it arrived was seized upon by the backroom boys at the Pentagon with their agenda for the region. the rest is history. I think the Agenda was control of the region, and the benefits of that control with some funding through oil (Iraq has the largest reserves in the world) but it’s all looking off track at the moment.

Best wishes

Granny said...

I see my like minded friends have arrived.

I'd like to share your optimism but until we somehow vote out the current Administration I don't hold out a lot of hope.

We shouldn't have invaded a sovereign nation on the flimsiest of pretexts and we're paying for it now.

Personally I'd prefer to see every last one of our neo-cons in jail but I'll settle for a new administration.

Josie said...

I read today that more Americans have now died in the Iraqi war than had died during 9/11.

Suicide bombers have achieved their goals in so many ways. Just try to travel anywhere without great inconvenience.

Bush, Sr. was a failure in his "first" Gulf War, and he convinced Bush, Jr. to take up where he left off. They both knew there were no "weapons of mass destruction" there.

Also, Bush, Jr. knew if he started a war - any war, anywhere - he would be guaranteed a second term in office, because the American voters never change presidents during a war. It was pure politics. Once he is finished his second term he will walk away and never look back, and someone else will have to clean up his mess.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Granny & Josie
Thanks for visiting and your points, I think all of the commentators here would agree with you
Best wishes

JuBlue said...

Definitely "off track." Unfortunately.

DA said...

Good post my up-side-down friend. I doubt if the USA will ever recover from this disgusting administration Lindsay. I also doubt if they didn't knew all along what would be the repercussion of invading Iraq. It's the oil craving war mongers that don't give a rat's ass about lives of human beings. They haven't done this in the past and won't do it in the future. How sad an outlook...

Ingrid said...

Yes, the neocons had/ve their agenda and all the other 'conversations' are merely noise to cover up what is really going on. I posted on suicide bombers a while ago and I should revisit that post myself. I had found an interesting article but since then, I've posted so much and read so much..sometimes the brain needs to be rebooted!

Haider Droubi said...

very usefullll info to be presented to some people who only see the misleading media..actually those suciders never existed 20 years ago...islam had been there for 1500 years..but this suciders just showed up during this decade..which brings up the question of;what had chanaged in the middle east to allow something like this to be for now..the only question is :the unfair policy of the great power of the world...
we ..the ordinary people in the middle east are totally against the terror..and against the reasons that pushed thoses young people to end their lifes and the lives of others ...we even feel sorry fo them ,,cos they wittnesed alot of unfairness...after this terror is brught down ,,i think the arabs should bring up the case of ;who created this terror and made some of the young people end their lives in this dramatic,unaccepted way...then islam wont be the one to be is the policy,,the dirty one ..based on oil and war industry...


Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi DA Ingrid & Haider
Thanks for visiting.
Yes, oil is a dirty in more ways then one! Gold was what people fought over, now its control of oil. Religion is an imaginative way of us thinking about the unknown, as it has been for thousands of years in every culture, long before current suicide bombers became active.
Best wishes

bohemiantroubadour said...

The Prophet said "Were dogs not a species of creature I should command that they all be killed; but kill every pure black one."

These people hate dogs. Need I say more about the nature of the Moslem.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Scholars reason that the prohibition of the keeping of dogs may be because they bark at visitors, scare away the needy who come to ask for charity, and try to bite passers-by. This prohibition is limited to keeping dogs without need or benefit, as permissibility was granted for keeping of Hunting Dogs and Watch Dogs,
That is dogs kept for such purposes to guard cattle and crops.

The Qur'an itself does not ban the keeping of dogs as it is only mentioned in the Hadith, the collection of sayings by companions of Muhammad.

The idea of black dogs as superstition is no different to many of the superstitions that come to us through the ages from other religious fundamentalists.
The association of the black dog with the devil may have motivated several attempts at eradicating the animal simply because black dog were thought to figure prominently in undesirable magic. In the Holy Qur’aan (S4:36) Muslims are advised to do well to “… what your right hands own …” According to the commentator Imaam Faghruddin al-Rhazi, this refers to all those who have no civil rights, including animals. Thus, the verse lays down the duty of being good toward animals.

Its all in the way you interpret.

Best wishes

Wendy A said...

I don't even want to get started it is all so upsetting. I am so with you. Sometimes it is really hard to admit that I am American for fear of association. I hide under my Canadian citizenship often. America has made some horrid mistakes in the recent past and lost all credibility especially internationally. I was once a proud Amercian but that has become a faded memorey.

Lirun said...

what a simplistic explanation..

let me tell you something.. as someone who just three months ago had 3 terrorists arrested 50 metres from his home..

terrorists dont seek damage.. they seek terror..

their goals are large and their goals are oddly fed by their perceptionof their ability to weaken a civilian front's moral..

it is the nastiest way for a society to seek concessions that democracy will not permit them.. and in that sense a cheap form of psychological dictatorship..

please dont romanticise terrorists.. many great people have risen above humiliation and terrible regimes through evolutionary democratic change.. look around asia for example..

you dont need to slaughter busloads of kids and yell allahu akbar to achieve in this world..

im sorry for my sting but i cant help it.. how lovely thatyou can sit back and toss around ideas and theories on something you dont live with..

lindsaylobe said...

Hi lirun
Thankyou for visiting and i am always interested in another’s point of view, but I don’t think my posting in any way romanticised suicide bombers, as I was seeking an explanation as to why such senseless acts of violence occurs, why do they continue and who are involved ? It is difficult subject, where people tend to gravitate to strong ties dependant upon what side of the fence or wall they reside. But the post in no way seeks to justify their actions, rather to better explain what is behind their actions. I can understand having terrorism at your doorstep makes you bitter and sensitive to any articles about those who perpetuate such senseless actions, but it does not give you the only true voice of reason. I don’t toss around ideas; the basis of my post was a long article from Dr Robert Paper from the University of Chicago who sums up his position from a lifetimes research.
In Australia we are indeed fortunate to date we have not experienced acts of terror, other than many who were killed in the Bali bombings. My Father died prematurely from his involvement in WW 2. Grandfathers were involved in WWI. I understand the terrors of violence very well and the consequences of indiscriminate violence. I would welcome your comments in the future.

Best wishes