Suicide Terrorism

Topics: September 11 attacks, Al-Qaeda, Suicide methods Pages: 12 (4051 words) Published: August 6, 2013
Suicide Terrorism


September 11, 2001 is a date that is forever embedded into the minds and hearts of most U.S. Citizens. On this date, multiple terrorist attacks were unleashed on the country, killing 2,973 civilians, as well as the 19 hijackers, and injuring over 6,000 others. Globally, this was the largest suicide terrorist attack ever, and while it was by no means the first, it was by far the worst (September 11 Attacks, n.d.).

Suicide terrorism is said to date back to biblical times with the story of Samson defeating 3,000 Philistines by killing himself along with them (Suicide Attacks, n.d.). Centuries later, suicide terrorism has become an increasingly popular method of furthering religious, political, and military agendas, but contrary to popular belief, religious agendas are actually the least popular reason for suicide terrorism. There is not currently a vast amount of information available about suicide terrorism, and not much research has been done on the subject, but what has been done has been vital. The current research has led to an understanding of the reasons for suicide terrorism, and an understanding of the individuals that commit these crimes. The only issue is that the research varies from researcher to researcher.

Literature Review

Article Summaries

The article “The Role of Religion in the Generation of Suicide Bombers” by Sadik H. Kassim seeks to dispense with the idea that suicide terrorism is largely based on religion. Kassim details the history of suicide bombings, gives statistical data on who commits these crimes, and also gives alternative reasons for these attacks (Kassim, 2008).

Kassim begins the article by explaining that most people believe that suicide bombings are rooted in religion, yet the statistical data appears to defy that idea. The author continues by revealing the types of individuals that commit these bombings, and contrary to popular belief, these individuals do not appear to be mentally ill, and many of these individuals are college-educated, most have families, and most come from middle to upper class families. This article sheds light on many common misconceptions of suicide attacks, and really gives the reader a good sense of what these individuals are about (Kassim, 2008).

The article “The Phenomenon of Suicide Bombing: A Review of the Psychological and Nonpsychological Factors” by Meytal Grimland, Alan Apter, and Ad Kerkhof attempts to bring logic to somewhat of an illogical process. The authors present various reasons and typologies to explain who commits suicide bombings and why. The article begins by giving a short history of suicide bombings, which some might be surprised to find can only be dated back to the early 1980s. The authors cite numerous examples of events that are commonly misrepresented as suicide bombings, dating all the way back to biblical times with the story of Samson (Grimland, M. et al., 2006).

In the next section, Grimland, Apter, and Kerkhof focus on the epidemiological aspects of suicide terrorism. Apparently, suicide attacks have increased drastically in the last five years, and are used to further political agendas. Suicide bombings are usually motivated by nationalistic pride, the need for revenge, hatred, or military strategy. These individuals generally have no psychological issues. Grimland, Apter, and Kerkhof go on to discuss the role of the media in glorifying suicide bombings. According to the article, culture and religion do play major roles in these attacks. From Judaism to Christianity to Islam, many of these groups perform these attacks based upon the cultures and religions that they have been taught to hate (Grimland, M. et al., 2006).

The article “Suicide Bombers, Terror, History, and Religion” by Niccolo Caldararo is an article that looks into multiple facets of suicide terrorism, but the main focus is that suicide terrorism is not a new phenomenon and should not be treated as such, and...

References: Aggarwal, Neil (2009). Rethinking Suicide Bombing. Crisis, 30(2): 94-97.
Atran, Scott (2004). Mishandling Suicide Terrorism. The Washington Quarterly, 27(3):
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Caldararo, Niccolo (2006). Suicide Bombers, Terror, History, and Religion.
Grimland, M., Apter, A., & Kerkhof, A. (2006). The Phenomenon of Suicide Bombing:
A Review of Psychological and Nonpsychological Factors
Kassim, Sadik H. (2008). The Role of Religion in the Generation of Suicide Bombers.
Pape, Robert A. (2003). The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. American Political
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Pape, Robert A. (2008). Methods and Findings in the Study of Suicide Terrorism.
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Tucker-Gail, K.A. (2010). CRIM 6000-001 Goal 2. University of Toledo.
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