The phenomenon is suicide bombing more often intrudes into our life from newspapers headlines, TV news and unfortunately even more and more people face it in reality. The understanding of the reasons that cause this phenomenon may considerably assist in preventing its expansion and probably even help to stop it. That is why now we may encounter a great number of various works dealing with this topic which aim at considering suicide bombing from different viewpoints.
The herein literature review attempts to focus on the most significant aspects of suicide bombing as well as to present those works which provide the most profound and comprehensive analysis of suicide bombing. Besides the works reviewed here are selected on the base of variety of viewpoints they provide. One of the most substantial works, that touch upon the issue of suicide bombing, is the book New Political Religions, Or an Analysis of Modern Terrorism by Barry Cooper. The analysis given in the book provides understanding of the nature of a suicide mission.
That is, in addition to considering such relatively straightforward issues as who did what and how it was accomplished, author is also concerned with interpreting the phenomena of terrorist action as meaningful within the context of sources provided by the terrorists themselves. Author asserts that one of the oldest insights of political science is that all political action is self-interpretive and proves that terrorism is no exception. The very useful aspect of the problem under discussion revealed in the book is the psychological analysis of the suicide’s actions.
In particular Cooper argues that they are not necessarily psychopaths. They are not crazy in the commonsense use of the term. They most definitely are, however, “spiritually disordered”. As author states, the spiritual disorders that are present among contemporary terrorists are expressions of ideology. It is for this reason that one can compare the spiritually disordered suicide bombers to the adherents of modern ideologies in the SS or KGB. The author also discusses the relation between the terrorism and religion.
In particular, he observes that Koran condemns any form of suicide; however, the motives of the terrorist acts performers necessarily contain some religious elements. Hence, Cooper concludes that the religion itself cannot be a rational basis for organization of a terrorist act; nevertheless it can be intensifying factor in the reasoning of suicide bombing. The next article under revision is Understanding Suicide Terrorism: Richard Jackson Argues That Terrorism Cannot Be Attributed Solely to Religious Extremism, Hatred or Mental Illness published by Richard Jackson in Journal New Zealand International Review.
In this article the author tries to clarify what are the reasons of suicide bombing. After having summarised particular cases the author arrives to conclusion that is very close to that presented in a book reviewed above. Namely, religion is only a factor in a very few cases of suicide terrorism around the world, and even in these instances, religious extremism is almost never the sole cause. Jackson notes that after all, there are many extremists and fanatics in virtually every religion, most of whom will never engage in any form of violence.
Nor is suicide terrorism the result of religious brainwashing; in places like Palestine, there are many more volunteers for suicide missions than the terrorist groups require. The author provides a valuable understanding of the fact that suicide bombers and terrorists are almost never motivated primarily by hatred for their victims. In actual fact, many suicide bombers are motivated by more altruistic aims, such as sacrifice for their comrades and their community, or a belief that they are fighting for a good cause. The author also states the arguments used by the organizers of suicide bombing during the planning of the terrorist acts.
The strongest among others is tactical advantages. On a tactical level, terrorists believe that their actions can be successful and that powerful governments can be forced to change their policies; in effect, they are making a rational calculation that enough carnage will achieve the desired results. In the work The Underlying Realities of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict after 11 September, published in Arab Studies Quarterly, the author Norton Mezvinsky highlights the chronological development of terrorist acts performed by the suicide bombers after the declaration of Intifada from 28 September 2000.
The main purpose of this work is to explore the sway of the events of 9/11 on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The most valuable in this work is the summarising of effects the terrorist acts had both for the Palestinians and the Israelis. Thus the author asserts that from the very beginning Intifada mainly implied the perpetration of suicide bombings. Israel, in its turn, with the purpose to render terrorist centers harmless brought troops into the territory of West Bank.
Israel’s military incursion into the West Bank greatly increased Palestinian hostility. Beginning in the aftermath of 28 September 2000, suicide bombing became the major weapon of armed struggle for Palestinians. Arafat and some other Palestinian political leaders condemned and called for a halt to the suicide bombings. Such statements had little effect. Suicide bombings have instilled fear and hurt the economy in Israel, but Palestinian suffering has nevertheless far surpassed Israeli Jewish suffering.
The next paper is the article by Terri Toles Patkin Explosive Baggage: Female Palestinian Suicide Bombers and the Rhetoric of Emotion, published in Women and Language which examines the psychological, social and gender factor in suicide bombing. The author of this work asserts that suicide bombers are not suffering from clinical depression or emotional difficulties; they perceive themselves as fulfilling a holy mission that will make them martyrs. The action is not “suicide” (as it was mentioned above suicide is prohibited by Koran) but rather “martyrdom” and thus does not violate religious prohibitions against killing oneself.
In particular Terri Patkin studies numerous psychological peculiarities of a woman which may induce them to participate in terrorist groups. The particularly interesting is the point of the author that the peculiar role of a woman in Muslim society can be a significant factor that impel women to participate in suicide bombing. Women have participated in terrorist groups worldwide, but their relatively low numbers and roles often centering on support of their male colleagues have diminished onlooker perceptions of their importance.
Women tend to be more actively involved in nationalist/secular terror organizations rather than Islamist/religious groups. Women in Palestinian groups are often enthusiastic about their increased roles. Generally for the western society martyrdom operations represent an odd and abnormal type of violent behaviour. Thus it would be useful to know what is the suicide bombing for a terrorist him-/herself or for the representative of the Muslim belief.
This interest can be satisfied by the work A Comparative Study of Lebanese and Palestinian Perceptions of Suicide Bombings: The Role of Militant Islam and Socio-Economic Status conducted by Simon Haddad and presented in International Journal of Comparative Sociology. This work consists of the sociological survey for the attitude of the Lebanese and Palestinian to suicide bombing. The major objective of this article is to provide a general overview of respondents’ attitudes towards suicide bombings within a comparative perspective.
Derived data indicate that for Lebanese and Palestinian, the most important determinant of attitudes toward suicide bombings is political Islam. The greater the attachment to the religious dogma the more likely respondents are to express support for suicide bombings. Certain Muslims commit these acts in the name of Jihad and thus in expectation of a handsome divine reward. Result of this article increase understanding of the phenomena of suicide bombings and pro-suicide attitudes in both Lebanese and Palestinian cases. And finally the book Global Terrorism by Brenda J. Lutz and James M.
Lutz provides a general research of the terrorism phenomenon. The work defines the place of suicide bombing among the other methods of terror. Thus, it is stated that in most cases the suicide bombing is used against political regimes (the authors include here the terrorist acts against the foreign troops on the occupied territory), basing on religious motives or ethnical ground. Also there are cases when suicide bombing are performed basing on ideological ground (Kurdish Workers Party). The book is illustrated with the table showing the number of terrorist acts conducted from 1980 to 2000.
So we can see that more than a half of acts of suicide bombing (168 out of 280) up till 2000 were organized by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka and India. These terrorist acts were based on the ethnical ground. Unfortunately there are no data following 2000 as it could have helped to find out what is the change in this ratio after the declaration of Intifada. This literature review unfortunately left a number of problems, related to suicide bombings, unconsidered. Thus it would be desirable to pay attention to such problem as children participation in suicide bombing.
Also the question of suicide bombings by the Chechens against the Russian government is not discussed in the books and articles reviewed. Many researchers differentiate the Chechen terrorism as a separate branch due to its incredible brutality towards civilians. Bibliography COOPER, Barry. New Political Religions, Or an Analysis of Modern Terrorism. Columbia, MO, University of Missouri Press, 2004. JACKSON, Richard. Understanding Suicide Terrorism: Richard Jackson Argues That Terrorism Cannot Be Attributed Solely to Religious Extremism, Hatred or Mental Illness. New Zealand International Review, 30 (5): 2005: 24+.
MEZVINSKY, Norton. The Underlying Realities of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict after 11 September. Arab Studies Quarterly, 25 (1-2): 2003: 197+. PATKIN, Terri Toles. Explosive Baggage: Female Palestinian Suicide Bombers and the Rhetoric of Emotion. Women and Language, 27 (2): 2004: 79+. HADDAD, Simon. A Comparative Study of Lebanese and Palestinian Perceptions of Suicide Bombings: The Role of Militant Islam and Socio-Economic Status. International Journal of Comparative Sociology, 45 (5): 2004: 337+. LUTZ, Brenda J. and LUTZ, James M. Global Terrorism. New York, Routledge, 2004.