Suicide Terrorism

659 words | 3 page(s)

Over the last few years, terrorist organizations have increasingly relied on suicide bombers to help them achieve their political objectives. In most cases, the attacks have been for the purposes of sending a message to the target governments that have occupied territory which the terrorists consider their home. It is the presence of foreign troops in their lands that is enraging the suicide bombers (Pape, 2005). According to Strenski (2003), in order to understand Muslim ‘human bombers’ it is important that we consider them not only within the perspective of jihad but also within the perspective of ‘sacrifices’ and ‘gifts’. This means that the actions of ‘human bombers’ are based on their social relationships: with their fellow human beings or with divine persons. Through this it is seen that religion alone cannot be the motive for suicide terrorism. Rather, religion serves as an instrument of helping people overcome the fear of death and the natural aversion that human beings have towards killing fellow humans.

From its definition, it is seen that execution of suicide bombing depends mainly on the death of the perpetrator. This is a behavior that involves some rationality. Rationality is in the sense that the perpetrators act in a manner that they feel servers their interests. The perpetrators only choose the behaviors that they believe will be most effective in sending their message to their intended audience. Normal persons become suicide bombers through social influence and radicalization. The first form of interaction is the bottom-up approach in which the would-be suicide bombers take the initiative to become members of a terrorist group. The second is a top-down approach which involves initiatives of leaders of the terrorist group to recruit members (Pape, 2005).

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The manner in which individuals define themselves is important in defining their mental states, perceptions and behavior. Through the self-concept, individuals can find a way of identifying and relating with other people. When the context of radicalization is considered, it is seen that individuals engage in suicide terrorism because of the need to restructure and develop a meaningful identity (Mursheda & Pavan, 2011). Suicide bombers become members of a terrorist organization or group and this works to enhance their self-esteem thereby helping heal some of the wounds that they have developed through their personal encounters and experiences. Terrorist organizations give their members a moral component of their actions, and an optimistic vision and perspective of the future. This explains why suicide terrorist organizations are involved in championing for the interests of their religion or nation. The volunteers for suicide missions therefore consider their deaths as the ultimate sacrifice that they have to make in order to ensure liberation of their people.

Suicide terrorism is therefore complex and involves religious and social gifts which include sacrifices and martyrdoms. As ‘sacrifices’ the suicide terrorists deviate from the traditional teachings of sacrificing and take a more radical approach to the issue which includes total annihilation. In my view, the primary goal of suicide bombers is to engender a sense of martyrdom in the name of religious zeal. As has been mentioned, volunteers of suicide terrorism always consider their death as the sacrifice that they have to make in order for their people to be liberated. Engendering a sense of martyrdom is for the purposes of demonstrating to the audience that more severe attacks are still to come. This acts as a means through which the terrorists can coerce national and international organizations into action for the national and international organizations to develop strategies of withdrawing from the contested locations in order to reduce the number of casualties. Through this the jihadists believe that they are enhancing the conditions of their fellow Muslims (Strenski, 2003).

  • Mursheda, S.M., & Pavan, S. (2011). Identity and Islamic radicalization in Western Europe. Civil Wars, 13(3), 259-279.
  • Pape, R.A. (2005). Dying to win: The strategic logic of suicide terrorism. New York: Random House.
  • Strenski, I. (2003). Sacrifice, gift and the social logic of muslim ‘human bombers’. Terrorism and Political Violence, 15(3), 1-34.

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