Suicidebombing is an act that is closely related to terrorist attacks,whereby an individual personally delivers explosives with the soleaim of detonating them so as to inflict maximum damage and killingthemselves in the process. Suicide bombings are most difficult tocomprehend especially to non-perpetrators. People are often left towonder the kind of emotions that would lead a human being todeliberately cause harm to other people, and kill themselves while atit. The paper demystifies the phenomenon of the suicidal bombing,clearly detailing the justification behind the use of this seeminglybarbaric tactic. With the many explanations that are provided toexplain the rationale behind partaking in a suicide bombing, it hascommonly been believed that the major reasons are related toreligious and ideological issues. However, Political reasons are morelikely to act as motivation for a suicide bombing in comparison toreligious or ideological reasons.
Suicidebombing involves individuals personally delivering explosives withthe sole aim of inflicting maximum damage and killing themselves inthe process. The outrageous characteristics of suicide bombers aretheir indiscriminate nature, their major target being unsuspectingcivilians and also the fact that they possess an unnaturalwillingness to die by their own hand. Suicide bombings arepolitically or ideologically motivated and always geared towards theachievement of a particular political goal. The perpetrators inflictboth physical and psychological damage on their victims, with theelement of surprise being a major consideration in order to achievemaximum damage.
Suicidebombers have been known to attach explosives to their clothing, carrythem in backpacks and sometimes hide them in their vehicles. Onvarious occasions, larger explosives have been packed into vehicles,often inflicting more damage than the smaller ones carried on thebody. Their ability to evade security checks and move around oftenmakes it easy for them to choose and reach their targets (De La Corte& Gimenez-Salinas, 2011). Political reasons are more likely toact as motivation for suicide bombing in comparison to religious orideological reasons.
Inthe period between 1981 and 2006, 32 percent (14,599) of theterrorism-related deaths were linked to suicide bombings. Theincrease in such attacks over the years has continued to puzzle thecommon and rational human being, who often seeks to know themotivations that could be behind these actions (Hassan, 2010). Thisreport seeks to establish the reasons why people carry out suicidebombings, based on research by Riaz Hassan.
Justificationof Suicide Bombing
Accordingto Hassan (2010), Western leaders have been associating thephenomenon of suicide bombing with Islamic fanaticism that is onlycomprehensible to those irrational enough to carry them out. Thisbelief is further picked by the media who go ahead to describesuicide bombers as suffering from psychological impairment, moraldeficiency, illiteracy, and poverty. With this, it is believed thatacts of terrorism can only be prevented if Muslim societies areliberalized and civilized.
However,scholars have begged to shy away from these conclusions and havecarried out extensive studies that have come to the conclusion thatpolitics contributes more to suicide attacks than religion. In orderto win over recruits and raise funds for their operations, theIslamic radical group leaders use religion though their goals are farfrom being spiritual (Hassan,2010). The main goals behind their operations range from expellingforces from their homelands to an array of other non-religiousreasons. Despite this, it is possible to find that the suicidebombing recruits are fanatical and irrational, something that cannotbe said of their leadership.
Suicidalbehavior is often used as a means to achieving a series of goalswhich may include self-empowerment, redemption, and honor. The FUSTD(Flinders University Suicide Terrorism Database) has providedevidence that discredits association of suicide bombers’personality to their activities (Hassan, 2010). To further explainthis, it has been established that suicide bombers are far frompsychologically challenged. This has been established as numerousstudies failed to make a connection between demographic,socioeconomic, psychological or religious variables that could bedirectly linked to the personalities or origins of the suicidebombers.
Typically,most of the bombers have been said to be psychologically stable withnormal integrations into regular social networks. The role of suicidebombings acting as strategic tactics has also come to light. This isdue to the fact that the groups are a representation of the weakerparty in conflicts, thus serving the purposes of forcing theadversary to make concessions, while at the same time presenting theorganization with an advantage over its rival by virtue of supportfrom external quarters (Hassan,2010).
Theacts of suicidal bombing are sometimes driven by retaliation andrevenge, which result from the human strong sense of justice. Thedesire to fight back often leads people to make big sacrifices, withresultant irrational and destructive consequences for both parties.The person seeking revenge is never afraid to compromise theirintegrity, social position or even personal safety for the revenge(Hassan,2010). At the heart of the process lies the perceptions that theyhave been harmed, treated unfairly and unjustifiably and this createsfeelings of hatred, anger and indignation that push the individualstowards seeking justice for themselves or those close to them.Vengeance always pushes individuals to partake in suicide bombing.
Viewingsuicide bombing as an altruistic action has led many to partake inthe phenomenon. Altruistic, unlike ordinary individual suicides, areperceived as perceiving one’s life as less worthy than the honor ofthe group or religion to which a person belongs. Altruism benefitsother people, and is a fundamental condition that explains thecohesion and cooperation of the group (Hassan, 2010).
Communitiesthat have gone through economic and social dislocations resultingfrom long, violent and painful conflicts with powerful adversarieshave a tendency of reacting to alleged inferiority and failure ofalternative efforts by taking upon self-sacrifice as the ideal meansto achieving redemption for the society. Such thoughts and attitudesalways lead to taking part in suicide bombings, perceived to act asan outlet for feeling of injustice, hostility, desperation anddeprivation (Hassan, 2010).
Exampleof Suicide Bombing
Oneof the most famous suicide bombings of all time is the September 11,2001 in the United States. On that day, militants connected to theAl-Qaeda extremist group hijacked a total of four airplanes andcarried out suicide attacks on specific targets in the country. Ofthe four, two were flown into the New York World Trade Centre towerswhile the third one hit the Pentagon out of Washington D.C. Thefourth plane went down in a Pennsylvania field. There was massivedestruction that resulted in extensive death and injuries, where morethan 3000 people lost their lives. In New York and Washington D.C.,about 400 Law enforces and members from the fire department sufferedserious injuries.
Theattackers were identified as Islamic terrorists financed by Osama binLaden’s Al Qaeda organization. According to sources, they wereperceived to be taking retaliation measures for the support Americawas according Israel and its role in the Persian Gulf War. Thepresence of American troops in the Middle East also contributed tothe cause of the attacks. This fits with Hassan (2010) that suicidebombers are mostly by the desire to revenge. The proprietors wereable to smuggle knives and box cutters through security checks atthree airports. They then proceeded to board four California boundflights, which were strategic targets due high fuel capacity. Whenthey were airborne, they went on to commandeer the four planes andtaking the controls. Ordinary commuter jets were thus transformedinto guided missiles America was under attack (Gargano, 2016).
Thesuccess of a suicide attack is dependent on the death of theperpetrator. This is one of the most intriguing facts that oftenleave people with mixed feelings regarding the psychological ormental wellbeing of the perpetrators. However, gauged on theinformation provided in the report, light has been shed on thevarious aspects surrounding the suicide bomber. Armed with thisinformation, it is crucial that the human race takes necessarymeasures to counter these attacks by taking both offensive anddefensive measures.
DeLa Corte, L. & Gimenez-Salinas, A. (2011).Suicide Terrorism as atool of Insurgency Campaigns: Functions, Risk Factors, andCountermeasures. TerrorismResearch Initiative.3(1)
Gargano,L.M. (2016). Mental Health Status of World Trade centre towerSurvivors compared to other survivors a decade after the September11, 2001 terrorist attacks. AmericanJournal of Industrial Medicine.59(9) 742-751
Hassan,R. (2010). Life as a Weapon: Making Sense of Suicide Bombings.FlindersJournal of History & Politics. 26() 39-47