Suicide attack

Suicide attack

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A suicide attack is a type of attack in which the attacker expects or intends to die in the process.

Historical


In the late 17th century Qing official Yu Yonghe
Yu Yonghe
Yu Yonghe was a traveler from China whose adventures are recorded in The Small Sea Travel Records . The book contributes significantly to the research on the historical development of Taiwan in the seventeenth century.-Biography:Yu Yonghe was born before 1650 in the city of Renhe, Zhejiang province...

 recorded that injured Dutch
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 soldiers fighting against Koxinga
Koxinga
Koxinga is the customary Western spelling of the popular appellation of Zheng Chenggong , a military leader who was born in 1624 in Hirado, Japan to Zheng Zhilong, a Chinese merchant/pirate, and his Japanese wife and died in 1662 on the island of Formosa .A Ming loyalist and the arch commander of...

's forces for control of Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

 in 1661 would use gunpowder to blow up both themselves and their opponents rather than be taken prisoner. However, the Chinese observer may have confused such suicidal tactics with the standard Dutch military practice of undermining and blowing up positions recently overrun by the enemy which almost cost Koxinga his life during the siege.

During the Belgian Revolution
Belgian Revolution
The Belgian Revolution was the conflict which led to the secession of the Southern provinces from the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and established an independent Kingdom of Belgium....

, Dutch Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

 Jan van Speijk detonated his own ship in the harbour of Antwerp to prevent its capture by the Belgians.

Another example was the Prussian
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

 soldier Karl Klinke on 18 April 1864 at the Battle of Dybbøl, who died blowing a hole in a Danish
Denmark
Denmark is a Scandinavian country in Northern Europe. The countries of Denmark and Greenland, as well as the Faroe Islands, constitute the Kingdom of Denmark . It is the southernmost of the Nordic countries, southwest of Sweden and south of Norway, and bordered to the south by Germany. Denmark...

 fortification
Fortification
Fortifications are military constructions and buildings designed for defence in warfare and military bases. Humans have constructed defensive works for many thousands of years, in a variety of increasingly complex designs...

.

In the 18th century John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones was a Scottish sailor and the United States' first well-known naval fighter in the American Revolutionary War. Although he made enemies among America's political elites, his actions in British waters during the Revolution earned him an international reputation which persists to...

 wrote about Ottoman sailors setting their own ships on fire and ramming the ships of their enemies, although they knew this meant certain death for them.

Modern suicide bombing as a political tool can be traced back to the assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II of Russia
Alexander II , also known as Alexander the Liberator was the Emperor of the Russian Empire from 3 March 1855 until his assassination in 1881...

 in 1881. Alexander fell victim to a Nihilist
Nihilist movement
The Nihilist movement was a Russian movement in the 1860s which rejected all authorities. It is derived from the Latin word "nihil", which means "nothing"...

 plot. While driving on one of the central streets of Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, near the Winter Palace
Winter Palace
The Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia, was, from 1732 to 1917, the official residence of the Russian monarchs. Situated between the Palace Embankment and the Palace Square, adjacent to the site of Peter the Great's original Winter Palace, the present and fourth Winter Palace was built and...

, he was mortally wounded by the explosion of hand-made grenades and died a few hours afterwards. The Tsar was killed by a member of Narodnaya Volya, Ignacy Hryniewiecki
Ignacy Hryniewiecki
Ignaty Gryniewietsky , 1856 – 13 March 1881) was a member of the People's Will and the assassin of Tsar Alexander II of Russia.-Early life:...

, who died while intentionally exploding the bomb during the attack.

Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff
Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff
Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff was a military officer in Germany’s Weimar-period Reichswehr and Nazi-period Wehrmacht. He attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler by suicide bombing in March 1943; the plan failed but he was undetected. In April 1943 he discovered the mass graves of the...

 intended to assassinate Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 by suicide bomb in 1943, but was unable to complete the attack.

During the Battle for Berlin the Luftwaffe flew Selbstopfereinsatz against Soviet bridges over the Oder
Oder
The Oder is a river in Central Europe. It rises in the Czech Republic and flows through western Poland, later forming of the border between Poland and Germany, part of the Oder-Neisse line...

 river. These missions were flown by pilots of the Leonidas Squadron
Leonidas Squadron
The Leonidas Squadron, formally known as 5th Staffel of Kampfgeschwader 200 was a unit which was originally formed to fly the Fieseler Fi 103R , a manned version of the V-1 flying bomb that was never used in combat because Werner Baumbach, the commander of KG 200, and his superiors considered it an...

 under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Heiner Lange. From 17 April until 20 April 1945, using any aircraft that were available, the Luftwaffe claimed that the squadron destroyed 17 bridges, however the military historian Antony Beevor
Antony Beevor
Antony James Beevor, FRSL is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous military historian John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission...

 when writing about the incident thinks that this was exaggerated and that only the railway bridge at Küstrin
Küstrin
Before 1945 Küstrin was a town in the former Prussian province of Brandenburg in Germany, situated on both sides of the Oder river...

 was definitely destroyed. He comments that "thirty-five pilots and aircraft was a high price to pay for such a limited and temporary success". The missions were called off when the Soviet ground forces reached the vicinity of the squadron's airbase at Jüterbog
Jüterbog
Jüterbog is a historic town in north-eastern Germany, located in the Teltow-Fläming district of Brandenburg. It is located on the Nuthe river at the northern slope of the Fläming hill range, about southwest of Berlin.-History:...

.

Following World War II, Viet Minh
Viet Minh
Việt Minh was a national independence coalition formed at Pac Bo on May 19, 1941. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China...

 "death volunteers" fought against the French Colonial Forces
French Colonial Forces
The French Colonial Forces , commonly called La Coloniale, was a general designation for the military forces that garrisoned in the French colonial empire from the late 17th century until 1960. They were recruited from mainland France or from the French settler and indigenous populations of the...

 by using a long stick-like explosive to destroy French tanks.

An Arab Christian military officer from Syria, Jules Jammal
Jules Jammal
Jules Yusuf Jammal was a Syrian Arab Christian military officer who martyred himself in a suicide bomb attack during the 1956 Suez Crisis against western forces.-Military Career and Death:...

, used a suicide bomb attack to bring down a French ship during the Suez Crisis
Suez Crisis
The Suez Crisis, also referred to as the Tripartite Aggression, Suez War was an offensive war fought by France, the United Kingdom, and Israel against Egypt beginning on 29 October 1956. Less than a day after Israel invaded Egypt, Britain and France issued a joint ultimatum to Egypt and Israel,...

 in 1956.

Modern


The number of attacks using suicide tactics has grown from an average of fewer than five per year during the 1980s to 180 per year between 2000 and 2005, and from 81 suicide attacks in 2001 to 460 in 2005. These attacks have been aimed at diverse military and civilian targets, including in Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 since July 6, 1989, in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 since the US-led invasion of that country in 2003
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 since 2001 and in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 since 2005. In Somalia since 2006, hundreds of suicide attacks have been taking place; the first of which was in 2002 when a male suicide bomber disguised as a woman in a long black abaya, veil and shoes, blew himself up, killing three government ministers and 16 other people in a graduation ceremony for medical students.

In the ten years after September 11, 2001, there were 336 sucide attacks in Afghanistan and 703 in Pakistan, while there were 1,003 documented suicide attacks in Iraq between March 20, 2003, and December 31, 2010.

Between 1980 and 2000 the largest number of suicide attacks was carried out by separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist and nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil...

 of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

. The number of attacks conducted by LTTE was almost double that of nine other major extremist organizations.

In Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, suicide bombings are an anti-Israel strategy perpetrated generally by Islamist and occasionally by secular Palestinian groups including the PFLP.

Between October 2000 and October 2006 there were 167 clearly identified suicide bomber attacks, with 51 other types of suicide attack. It has been suggested that there were so many volunteers for the "Istishhadia" in the Second Intifada in Israel and the occupied territories, such was the tactics growing popular acceptance, that recruiters and dispatchers had a 'larger pool of candidates' than ever before, with one Fatah interviewee stating that they were' flooded' with applicants.

Suicide attacks have also been common in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Suicide bombings have become a tactic in Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

, first being used in the conflict in 2000 when a man and a woman drove a bomb-laden truck into a Russian army base in Alkhan Kala. A number of suicide attacks have occurred in Russia as a result of the Chechen conflict, ranging from the Moscow theater hostage crisis
Moscow theater hostage crisis
The Moscow theater hostage crisis, also known as the 2002 Nord-Ost siege, was the seizure of the crowded Dubrovka Theater on 23 October 2002 by some 40 to 50 armed Chechens who claimed allegiance to the Islamist militant separatist movement in Chechnya. They took 850 hostages and demanded the...

 in 2002 to the Beslan school hostage crisis
Beslan school hostage crisis
The Beslan school hostage crisis of early September 2004 was a three-day hostage-taking of over 1,100 people which ended in the deaths of over 380...

 in 2004. The 2010 Moscow Metro bombings
2010 Moscow Metro bombings
The 2010 Moscow Metro bombings were suicide bombings carried out by two womenduring the morning rush hour of March 29, 2010, at two stations of the Moscow Metro , with roughly 40 minutes interval between...

 are also believed to result from the Chechen conflict.

There have been suicide attacks in Western Europe and the United States. The September 11 World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks killed nearly 3000 people in New York, Washington D.C and Shanksville, Pennsylvania in 2001. A further attack in London
7 July 2005 London bombings
The 7 July 2005 London bombings were a series of co-ordinated suicide attacks in the United Kingdom, targeting civilians using London's public transport system during the morning rush hour....

 on 7 July 2005 killed 52 people.

Japanese kamikaze


The tactics of the Kamikaze
Kamikaze
The were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible....

, a ritual act of self-sacrifice by state military forces, occurred during combat in a large scale at the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. These suicide attacks, carried out by Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese kamikaze bombers, were used as a military tactic aimed at causing material damage in the war. In the Pacific Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 ships were attacked by kamikaze pilots who caused significant damage by flying their explosive-laden aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 into military targets.

In these attacks, airplanes were used as flying bombs. Later in the war, as Japan became more desperate, this act became formalized and ritualized, as planes were outfitted with explosives specific to the task of a suicide mission. Kamikaze strikes were a weapon of asymmetric war used by the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 against United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s, although the armoured flight deck of the Royal Navy carriers diminished Kamikaze effectiveness.

The Japanese Navy also used both one and two man piloted torpedo
Torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

es called kaiten
Kaiten
The Kaiten were manned torpedos and suicide craft, they were used by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the final stages of World War II.-History:...

on suicide missions. Although sometimes called midget submarine
Midget submarine
A midget submarine is any submarine under 150 tons, typically operated by a crew of one or two but sometimes up to 6 or 8, with little or no on-board living accommodation...

s, these were modified versions of the unmanned torpedoes of the time and are distinct from the torpedo-firing midget submarines used earlier in the war, which were designed to infiltrate shore
Shore
A shore or shoreline is the fringe of land at the edge of a large body of water, such as an ocean, sea, or lake. In Physical Oceanography a shore is the wider fringe that is geologically modified by the action of the body of water past and present, while the beach is at the edge of the shore,...

 defenses and return to a mother ship
Mother ship
A mother ship is a vessel or aircraft that carries a smaller vessel or aircraft that operates independently from it. Examples include bombers converted to carry experimental aircraft to altitudes where they can conduct their research , or ships that carry small submarines to an area of ocean to be...

 after firing their torpedoes. Though extremely hazardous, these midget submarine attacks were not technically suicide missions, as the earlier kaitens had escape hatches. Later kaitens, by contrast, provided no means of escape.

After aiming a two-person kaiten at their target, the two crew members traditionally embraced and shot each other in the head. Social support for such choices was strong, due in part to Japanese cultural history, in which seppuku
Seppuku
is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai. Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was either used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies , or as a form of capital punishment...

, honourable suicide, was part of samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 duty
Duty
Duty is a term that conveys a sense of moral commitment to someone or something. The moral commitment is the sort that results in action and it is not a matter of passive feeling or mere recognition...

. It was also fostered and indoctrinated by the
Imperial program to persuade
Persuasion
Persuasion is a form of social influence. It is the process of guiding or bringing oneself or another toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or action by rational and symbolic means.- Methods :...

 the Japanese soldiers to commit these acts.

Definition


Suicide terrorism is a problematic term to define. There is an ongoing debate on definitions of terrorism itself. Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan
Kofi Atta Annan is a Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh Secretary-General of the UN from 1 January 1997 to 31 December 2006...

, as Secretary General of the UN, defined terrorism in March 2005 in the General Assembly as any action "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants" for the purpose of intimidation. This definition would distinguish suicide terrorism from suicide bombing in that suicide bombing does not necessarily target non-combatants, and is not widely accepted.

For example, Jason Burke
Jason Burke
Jason Burke is a British journalist and the author of several non-fiction books. A correspondent covering South Asia for The Observer and The Guardian, he is based in New Delhi as of 2010. In his years of journalism, Burke has addressed a wide range of topics including politics, social affairs and...

, a journalist who has lived among Islamic militants himself, whilst preferring the term 'militancy' to 'terrorism', suggests that most define terrorism as 'the use or threat of serious violence' to advance some kind of 'cause', and stresses that terrorism is a tactic, and Burke leaves the target of such actions out of the definition, although he is also clear in calling suicide bombings 'abhorrent'. F. Halliday meanwhile draws attention to the fact that assigning the descriptor of 'terrorist' or 'terrorism' to the actions of a group is a tactic used by states to deny 'legitimacy' and 'rights to protest and rebel', although similar to Burke does not define terrorism in terms of the militance of the victim as did Kofi Annan. His preferred approach is to focus on the specific aspects within terrorism that we can study without using the concept itself, laden as it is with 'such distortion and myth'. This means focusing on the specific components of 'terror' and 'political violence' within terrorism.

With awareness of that debate in mind, suicide terrorism itself has been defined by A. Pedahzur as "A diversity of violent actions perpetrated by people who are aware that the odds they will return alive are close to zero." This captures suicide bombing, and the range of suicide tactics below.

Types



  • Suicide attack on foot: explosive belt
    Explosive belt
    An explosive belt is an improvised explosive device, a belt or a vest packed with explosives and armed with a detonator, worn by suicide bombers...

    , satchel charge
    Satchel charge
    thumb|right|250px|Weapons used in [[Winter War]]. The original Finnish satchel charge at left.A satchel charge is a demolition device, primarily intended for combat, whose primary components are a charge of dynamite or a more potent explosive such as C-4 plastic explosive, a carrying device...

  • Attempted suicide attack with a plane as target: Richard Reid
    Richard Reid (shoe bomber)
    Richard Colvin Reid , also known as the Shoe Bomber, is a self-admitted member of al-Qaeda who pled guilty in 2002 in U.S. federal court to eight criminal counts of terrorism stemming from his attempt to destroy a commercial aircraft in-flight by detonating explosives hidden in his shoes...

     on American Airlines Flight 63
    American Airlines Flight 63
    The 2001 shoe bomb plot was a failed bombing attempt that occurred on American Airlines Flight 63 flying from Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France, to Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida, on December 22, 2001.-Incident:...

  • Explosives hidden inside the body: 2009 attack on Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Nayef
    Muhammad bin Nayef
    Prince Mohammad bin Naif bin Abdul Aziz Al-Saud is the Saudi Deputy Interior Minister in charge of Counter-Terrorism. He survived an assassination attempt in August 2009.-Personal life:Born in Jeddah, he moved to Riyadh...

  • Suicide car bomb
    Car bomb
    A car bomb, or truck bomb also known as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device , is an improvised explosive device placed in a car or other vehicle and then detonated. It is commonly used as a weapon of assassination, terrorism, or guerrilla warfare, to kill the occupants of the vehicle,...

    : 1983 Beirut barracks bombing
    1983 Beirut barracks bombing
    The Beirut Barracks Bombing occurred during the Lebanese Civil War, when two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces—members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon—killing 299 American and French servicemen...

    , Sri Lankan Central Bank bombing
    Central Bank Bombing
    The Central Bank bombing was one of the deadliest terrorist attacks carried out by the LTTE during the Separatist civil war in Sri Lanka between the government and the Tamil Tigers.The attack took place on January 31, 1996, Sri Lankan city of Colombo...

    , numerous incidents in Iraq since 2003
    Suicide bombings in Iraq since 2003
    Suicide bombings in Iraq since 2003 have killed thousands of people, mostly Iraqi civilians, and are considered to constitute a new phenomenon in the history of warfare...

  • Suicide attack by a boat with explosives: USS Cole bombing
    USS Cole bombing
    The USS Cole Bombing, or the USS Cole Incident, was a suicide attack against the United States Navy destroyer on October 12, 2000 while it was harbored and refueled in the Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen American sailors were killed, and 39 were injured...

     attacks in Aden , Yemen by Al-Qaeda
    Al-Qaeda
    Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

    ; SLNS Sagarawardena
    SLNS Sagarawardena
    SLNS Sagarawardena was an Offshore Patrol Vessel of the Sri Lanka Navy. It was the second ship of the locally built Jayasagara class. The ship was sunk in 1994 when it was hit by two suicide crafts of the LTTE whilst on routine patrol off the coast of Mannar...

     sinking in Sri Lanka by Tamil Tigers.
  • Suicide attack by a submarine with explosives (human-steered torpedo
    Torpedo
    The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

    ): Kaiten
    Kaiten
    The Kaiten were manned torpedos and suicide craft, they were used by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the final stages of World War II.-History:...

    , used by Japan in World War II
    World War II
    World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

  • Suicide attack by wearing an explosive belt : Assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi
    Rajiv Gandhi
    Rajiv Ratna Gandhi was the sixth Prime Minister of India . He took office after his mother's assassination on 31 October 1984; he himself was assassinated on 21 May 1991. He became the youngest Prime Minister of India when he took office at the age of 40.Rajiv Gandhi was the elder son of Indira...

     by Thenmuli Rajaratnam
    Thenmuli Rajaratnam
    Thenmozhi "Gayatri" Rajaratnam was the assassin who killed Rajiv Gandhi, herself, and 14 others in a suicide bombing on May 21, 1991, in the Indian town of Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu, near Chennai. A member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam , Rajaratnam was also known as Gayatri and Dhanu...

     of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
    Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
    The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist and nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil...

     (LTTE).
  • Suicide attack by a bicycle with explosives: Assassination of Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa
    Ranasinghe Premadasa
    Ranasinghe Premadasa was the 3rd President of Sri Lanka from January 2, 1989 to May 1, 1993. Before that, he served as the Prime Minister in the government headed by J. R. Jayewardene from February 6, 1978 to January 1, 1989...

     by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
    Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
    The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist and nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil...

     (LTTE)
  • Suicide attack by a hijacked commercial jet airliner with fuel: September 11 attacks, 2009 suicide air raid on Colombo
    2009 suicide air raid on Colombo
    The 2009 suicide air raid on Colombo was an unsuccessful kamikaze style suicide attack launched by the air wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam on February 20, 2009, targeting military locations in and around Colombo, Sri Lanka...

    , possibly Air France Flight 8969
    Air France Flight 8969
    Air France Flight 8969 was an Air France flight that was hijacked on 24 December 1994 by the Armed Islamic Group at Algiers, where they killed three passengers, with the intention to crash it on the Eiffel tower in Paris. When the aircraft reached Marseille, the GIGN, an intervention group of the...

     and attempted by Samuel Byck
    Samuel Byck
    Samuel Joseph Byck was an unemployed former tire salesman who attempted to hijack a plane flying out of Baltimore-Washington International Airport on February 22, 1974. He intended to crash into the White House in the hope of killing U.S...

  • Suicide attack by private plane: 2010 Austin plane crash
    2010 Austin plane crash
    The 2010 Austin suicide attack occurred on 18 February 2010, when Andrew Joseph Stack III, flying his Piper Dakota, crashed into Building I of the Echelon office complex in Austin, Texas, United States, killing himself and Internal Revenue Service manager Vernon Hunter. Thirteen others were...

  • Suicide attack by diverting a bus to an abyss: Tel Aviv Jerusalem bus 405 attack
  • Suicide attack with guns: Insurgent attack on the Indian Parliament in December 2001, killing 15 people; Anuradhapura massacre
    Anuradhapura massacre
    The Anuradhapura massacre occurred in Sri Lanka in 1985 and was carried out by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. This was the largest massacre of Sinhalese civilians by the LTTE to date; it was also the first major operation carried out by the LTTE outside a Tamil majority area.-Incident:The...

     which killed 146 people.
  • Suicide attack by a car by using a fast driving car to drive intentionally into a crowd of people or breaching a security barrier: 2009 attack on the Dutch royal family
    2009 attack on the Dutch royal family
    The 2009 attack on the Dutch Royal Family occurred in Apeldoorn, Netherlands, where a man drove his car at high speed into a parade which included Queen Beatrix, Prince Willem-Alexander and other members of the Dutch Royal Family; the attack happened on 30 April, the Dutch national holiday of...


Profile of attackers


Studies have shown conflicting results. Criminal Justice professor Adam Lankford recently identified more than 75 individual suicide terrorists, including 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta
Mohamed Atta
Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta was one of the masterminds and the ringleader of the September 11 attacks who served as the hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, crashing the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the coordinated attacks.Born in 1968...

, who exhibited classic suicidal traits, including depression, guilt, shame, hopelessness, and rage. These findings have been further supported by psychologist Ariel Merari, whose interviews and assessments of suicide bombers, regular terrorists, and terrorist recruiters found that only members of the first group showed major risk factors for conventional suicide.

Robert Pape
Robert Pape
Robert Anthony Pape, Jr. , is an American political scientist known for his work on international security affairs, especially the coercive strategies of air power and the rationale of suicide terrorism. He is currently a professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and founder of the...

, director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, found the majority of suicide bombers came from the educated middle classes. A study of the remains of 110 suicide bombers for the first part of 2007 by Afghan pathologist Dr. Yusef Yadgari, found 80% were missing limbs before the blasts, other suffered from cancer, leprosy, or some other ailments. Also in contrast to earlier findings of suicide bombers, the Afghan bombers were "not celebrated like their counterparts in other Arab nations. Afghan bombers are not featured on posters or in videos as martyrs."

Anthropologist
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

 Scott Atran
Scott Atran
Scott Atran is an American and French anthropologist.-Education and early career:Atran was born in New York City in 1952 and he received his PhD in anthropology from Columbia University. While a student at Columbia, he became assistant to anthropologist Margaret Mead at the American Museum of...

's research has found an extremely sharp increase in suicide attacks. Atran says that the attacks are not organized from the top down, but occurs from the bottom up. That is, it is usually a matter of following one's friends, and ending up in environments that foster group think. Atran is also critical of the claim that terrorists simply crave destruction; they are often motivated by beliefs they hold sacred, as well as their own moral reasoning.

A recently published paper by Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 Professor of Public Policy Alberto Abadie
Alberto Abadie
Alberto Abadie is a Professor of Public Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, born in the Basque Country, Spain. He received his PhD in Economics from M.I.T. in 1999....

 "cast[s] doubt on the widely held belief that terrorism stems from poverty, finding instead that terrorist violence is related to a nation's level of political freedom." More specifically this is due to the transition of countries towards democratic freedoms. "Intermediate levels of political freedom are often experienced during times of political transitions, when governments are weak, political instability is elevated, so conditions are favorable for the appearance of terrorism".

Some suicide bombers are educated, with college
College
A college is an educational institution or a constituent part of an educational institution. Usage varies in English-speaking nations...

 or university
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

 experience, and come from middle class
Middle class
The middle class is any class of people in the middle of a societal hierarchy. In Weberian socio-economic terms, the middle class is the broad group of people in contemporary society who fall socio-economically between the working class and upper class....

 homes. They are also most often young adult men. Leaders of the groups who perpetrate these attacks claim that they search for individuals who can be trusted to carry out the mission, and that those with mental illnesses are not considered ideal candidates.

Use of suicide terror against civilian targets has differing effects on the attackers' goals (see reaction below). Some economists suggest that this tactic goes beyond symbolism and is actually a response to commodified, controlled, or devalued
Value of life
The potency of life is an economic value assigned to life in general, or to specific living organisms. In social and political sciences, it is the marginal cost of death prevention in a certain class of circumstances. As such, it is a statistical term, the cost of reducing the number of deaths by...

 lives, as the suicide attackers apparently consider family prestige and financial compensation from the community as compensation for their own lives. Whether such motivation is significant as compared to political or religious feeling remains unclear.

Idealism


The doctrine
Military doctrine
Military doctrine is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements.It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military...

 of asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly....

 views suicide attacks as a result of an imbalance of power, in which groups with little significant power resort to suicide bombing as a convenient tactic (see advantages noted above) to demoralize the targeted civilians or government leadership of their enemies. Suicide bombing may also take place as a perceived response to actions or policies of a group with greater power. Groups which have significant power have no need to resort to suicide bombing to achieve their aims; consequently, suicide bombing is overwhelmingly used by guerrillas, and other irregular fighting forces
Irregular military
Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used....

. Among many such groups, there are religious overtones to martyrdom: attackers and their supporters may believe that their sacrifice will be rewarded in an afterlife
Afterlife
The afterlife is the belief that a part of, or essence of, or soul of an individual, which carries with it and confers personal identity, survives the death of the body of this world and this lifetime, by natural or supernatural means, in contrast to the belief in eternal...

. Suicide attackers often believe that their actions are in accordance with moral or social standards because they are aimed at fighting forces and conditions that they perceive as unjust.
Robert Pape
Robert Pape
Robert Anthony Pape, Jr. , is an American political scientist known for his work on international security affairs, especially the coercive strategies of air power and the rationale of suicide terrorism. He is currently a professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago and founder of the...

's studies have found that suicide attacks are most often provoked by political occupation. Pape found the targeted countries were ones where the government was democratic and public opinion played a role in determining policy. Other characteristics Pape found included a difference in religion between the attackers and occupiers, and that there was grassroots support for the attacks. Attackers were disproportionately from the educated middle classes. Characteristics which Pape thought to be correlated to suicide bombing and bombers included: Islam, especially the influence of Salafi
Salafi
A Salafi come from Sunni Islam is a follower of an Islamic movement, Salafiyyah, that is supposed to take the Salaf who lived during the patristic period of early Islam as model examples...

 Islam; brutality and cruelty of the occupiers; competition among militant groups; and poverty, immaturity, poor education, past history of suicide attempts, or social maladjustment of the attackers.

Other researchers have argued that Pape's analysis is fundamentally flawed, particularly his contention that democracies are the main targets of such attacks. Scott Atran
Scott Atran
Scott Atran is an American and French anthropologist.-Education and early career:Atran was born in New York City in 1952 and he received his PhD in anthropology from Columbia University. While a student at Columbia, he became assistant to anthropologist Margaret Mead at the American Museum of...

 found that non-Islamic groups have carried out very few bombings since 2003, while bombing by Muslim or Islamist groups associated with a "global ideology" of "martyrdom" has skyrocketed. In one year, in one Muslim country alone – 2004 in Iraq – there were 400 suicide attacks and 2,000 casualties. Still others argue that perceived religious rewards in the hereafter are instrumental in encouraging Muslims to commit suicide attacks.

Suicide operatives are overwhelmingly male in most groups, but among the Chechen rebels and the Kurdistan Workers Party
Kurdistan Workers Party
The Kurdistan Workers' Party , commonly known as PKK, also known as KGK and formerly known as KADEK or KONGRA-GEL , is a Kurdish organization which has since 1984 been fighting an armed struggle against the Turkish state for an autonomous Kurdistan and greater cultural and political rights...

 (PKK) women form a majority of the attackers.

In his book Dead for Good, Hugh Barlow describes recent suicide attack campaigns as a new development in the long history of martyrdom that he dubs predatory martyrdom. Some individuals who now act alone are inspired by emails, radical books, the internet, various new electronic media, and a general public tolerance of extreme teachers and leaders with terrorist agendas.

Muslim religious motivation



Radical Muslims who advocate for violence against targets that include civilians believe they will enter Paradise as a reward for their actions, however, many mainstream Muslim theologians have vehemently opposed their interpretations, and decried attacks on civilians as unjustified violence and sins in Islam. A Quranic verse that has often been quoted by radical Muslims in support of their actions is Surah 9 At-Tawba
At-Tawba
Surah At-Tawbah also known as al-Bara'ah "the Ultimatum" in many hadith is the ninth chapter of the Qur'an, with 129 verses. It is one of the last Madinan Suras. It is the only Sura of the Qur'an that does not begin with the bismillah...

 verse 111:
Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their wealth for the price of Paradise, to fight in the way of Allah, to kill and get killed. It is a promise binding on the truth in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an.


Another Quranic verse that radical Muslims point to in justification of suicide attacks is Sura 3 Imran
Ali-Imran
Sura Ali-Imran is the 3rd chapter of the Qur'an with two hundred verses.-Overview:Imran in Islam is regarded as the father of Mary. This chapter is named after the family Imran , which includes Imran, Saint Anne, Mary, and Jesus. The chapter is believed to have been revealed in Medina and is...

, verse 158:
And if ye die, or are slain, Lo! it is unto Allah that ye are brought together.


According to a report compiled by the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, 224 of 300 suicide terror attacks from 1980 to 2003 involved Islamist groups or took place in Muslim-majority lands. Another tabulation found a 4.5 fold increase in suicide bombings in the two years following Papes study and that the majority of these bombers were motivated by the ideology of Islamist martyrdom. According to another estimate, as of early 2008, 1,121 Muslim suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Recent research on the rationale of suicide bombing has identified both religious and sociopolitical motivations. Those who cite religious factors as an important influence note that religion provides the framework because the bombers believe they are acting in the name of Islam and will be rewarded as martyrs. Since martyrdom is seen as a step towards paradise, those who commit suicide while discarding their community from a common enemy believe that they will reach an ultimate salvation after they die. Leor Halevi, a professor at Vanderbilt University and author of "Muhammad's Grave: Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society", suggests that some suicide bombers are perhaps motivated by an escape from the potential punishment of the tomb that comes with martyrdom. Some academics have also suggested that only if terrorist leaders such as Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Laden
Osama bin Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden was the founder of the militant Islamist organization Al-Qaeda, the jihadist organization responsible for the September 11 attacks on the United States and numerous other mass-casualty attacks against civilian and military targets...

 become suicide bombers or are "martyred publically by the authorities" would martyrdom potentially effect change or influence opinions within the greater Muslim world as these individuals seek. However, other researchers have identified sociopolitical factors as more central in the motivation of suicide attackers.

Even though suicide is forbidden in Islam, some conservative, influential Muslim scholars including most notably Yusuf al-Qaradawi have justified suicide bombings when the perpetrators are occupied or acting in self-defense without other available means to defend themselves. However, many scholars of Islam have pointed out that classically, Islam does not justify suicide bombings. For example, Bernard Lewis states, "The emergence of the now widespread terrorism practice of suicide bombing is a development of the 20th century. It has no antecedents in Islamic history, and no justification in terms of Islamic theology, law, or tradition." Respected Muslim scholars have also made statements and fatwas condemning suicide bombings as terrorism that is prohibited in Islam with the perpetrators being destined to hell. In condemning suicide attacks, Muslim scholar Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri
Tahir-ul-Qadri
Muhammad Tahir ul-Qadri is a Pakistani Sufi scholar and former professor of international constitutional law at the University of the Punjab....

 directly targeted the rationale of Islamists by stating, "Violence is violence. It has no place in Islamic teaching, and no justification can be provided to it...good intention cannot justify a wrong and forbidden act". In January 2006, one of Shia Islam
Shi'a Islam
Shia Islam is the second largest denomination of Islam. The followers of Shia Islam are called Shi'ites or Shias. "Shia" is the short form of the historic phrase Shīʻatu ʻAlī , meaning "followers of Ali", "faction of Ali", or "party of Ali".Like other schools of thought in Islam, Shia Islam is...

's highest ranking Marja
Marja
Marja , also known as a marja-i taqlid or marja dini , literally means "Source to Imitate/Follow" or "Religious Reference"...

 clerics, Ayatollah al-Udhma Yousof al-Sanei also decreed a fatwa
Fatwa
A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar. The person who issues a fatwā...

 against suicide bombing, declaring it as a "terrorist act".

According to Charles Kimball, chair of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University
Wake Forest University is a private, coeducational university in the U.S. state of North Carolina, founded in 1834. The university received its name from its original location in Wake Forest, north of Raleigh, North Carolina, the state capital. The Reynolda Campus, the university's main campus, is...

 in Winston-Salem
Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Winston-Salem is a city in the U.S. state of North Carolina, with a 2010 population of 229,617. Winston-Salem is the county seat and largest city of Forsyth County and the fourth-largest city in the state. Winston-Salem is the second largest municipality in the Piedmont Triad region and is home to...

, "There is only one verse in the Qur'an that contains a phrase related to suicide", Surah 4 verse 29 of the Quran. It reads:
O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.


Some commentators believe that the phrase "do not kill yourselves" is better translated "do not kill each other", and some translations (e.g., by Shakir) reflect that view. Mainstream Islamic groups such as the European Council for Fatwa and Research
European Council for Fatwa and Research
The European Council for Fatwa and Research is a Dublin-based private foundation, founded in London on 29 March - 30 March 1997 on the initiative of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe...

 also cite the Quranic verse Al-Anam 6:151 as prohibiting suicide: "And take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law". In addition, the Hadith
Hadith
The term Hadīth is used to denote a saying or an act or tacit approval or criticism ascribed either validly or invalidly to the Islamic prophet Muhammad....

unambiguously forbid suicide including Bukhari 2:445, "The Prophet said, '...whoever commits suicide with a piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in the Hell Fire," and "A man was inflicted with wounds and he committed suicide, and so Allah said: My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him.".

Nationalism


The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam was a separatist militant organization formerly based in northern Sri Lanka. Founded in May 1976 by Vellupillai Prabhakaran, it waged a violent secessionist and nationalist campaign to create an independent state in the north and east of Sri Lanka for Tamil...

 are considered to have mastered the use of suicide terrorism as "the contemporary terrorist groups engaged in suicide attacks, the LTTE has conducted the largest number of attacks." The LTTE also has a unit, The Black Tigers, which are "constituted exclusively of cadres who have volunteered to conduct suicide operations."

Pape suggests that resentment of foreign occupation and nationalism is the principal motivation for suicide attacks:


Beneath the religious rhetoric with which [such terror] is perpetrated, it occurs largely in the service of secular aims. Suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation rather than a product of Islamic fundamentalism... Though it speaks of Americans as infidels, al-Qaida is less concerned with converting us to Islam than removing us from Arab and Muslim lands.

Other views


According to anthropologist Scott Atran
Scott Atran
Scott Atran is an American and French anthropologist.-Education and early career:Atran was born in New York City in 1952 and he received his PhD in anthropology from Columbia University. While a student at Columbia, he became assistant to anthropologist Margaret Mead at the American Museum of...

 and former CIA case officer Marc Sageman
Marc Sageman
Marc Sageman , M.D., Ph.D., is a former CIA Operations Officer who was based in Islamabad from 1987 to 1989, where he worked closely with Afghanistan's mujahedin. He has advised various branches of the U.S. government in the War on Terror...

, support for suicide actions is triggered by moral outrage at perceived attacks against Islam and sacred values, but this is converted to action as a result of small world factors. There are millions who express sympathy with global jihad (according to a 2006 Gallup study in involving more than 50,000 interviews in dozens of countries, 7 percent of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims - 90 million people - consider the 9/11 attacks "completely justified.") Nevertheless, only some thousands show willingness to commit violence (e.g., 60 arrested in the USA, 2400 in Western Europe, 3200 in Saudi Arabia). They tend to go to violence in small groups consisting mostly of friends, and some kin (although friends tend to become kin as they marry one another's sisters and cousins - there are dozens of such marriages among militant members of Southeast Asia's Jemaah Islamiyah
Jemaah Islamiyah
Jemaah Islamiah , is a Southeast Asian militant Islamic organization dedicated to the establishment of a Daulah Islamiyah in Southeast Asia incorporating Indonesia, Malaysia, the southern Philippines, Singapore and Brunei...

). These groups arise within specific "scenes": neighborhoods, schools (classes, dorms), workplaces and common leisure activities (soccer, paintball, mosque discussion groups, barbershop, café, online chat-rooms).

Case studies


1. In Al Qaeda, about 70 percent join with friends, 20 percent with kin. Interviews with friends of the 9/11 suicide pilots reveal they weren't "recruited" into Qaeda. They were Middle Eastern Arabs isolated even among the Moroccan and Turkish Muslims who predominate in Germany. Seeking friendship, they began hanging out after services at the Masjad al-Quds and other nearby mosques in Hamburg, in local restaurants and in the dormitory of the Technical University in the suburb of Harburg. Three (Mohamed Atta
Mohamed Atta
Mohamed Mohamed el-Amir Awad el-Sayed Atta was one of the masterminds and the ringleader of the September 11 attacks who served as the hijacker-pilot of American Airlines Flight 11, crashing the plane into the North Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the coordinated attacks.Born in 1968...

, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Marwan al-Shehhi
Marwan al-Shehhi
Marwan Yousef Mohamed Rashid Lekrab al-Shehhi was the hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 175, crashing the plane into the South Tower of the World Trade Center as part of the September 11 attacks....

) wound up living together as they self-radicalized. They wanted to go to Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

, then Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

.

2. Five of the seven plotters in the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings
11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings
The Madrid train bombings consisted of a series of coordinated bombings against the Cercanías system of Madrid, Spain on the morning of 11 March 2004 , killing 191 people and wounding 1,800...

 who blew themselves up when cornered by police grew up in the tumble-down neighborhood of Jemaa Mezuak in Tetuan, Morocco: Jamal Ahmidan, brothers Mohammed and Rashid Oulad Akcha, Abdennabi Kounjaa, Asri Rifaat. In 2006, at least five more young Mezuaq men went to Iraq on "martyrdom missions": Abdelmonim Al-Amrani, Younes Achebak, Hamza Aklifa, and the brothers Bilal and Munsef Ben Aboud (DNA analysis has confirmed the suicide bombing death of Amrani in Baqubah, Iraq). All 5 attended a local elementary school (Abdelkrim Khattabi), the same one that Madrid’s Moroccan bombers attended. And 4 of the 5 were in the same high school class (Kadi Ayadi, just outside Mezuak). They played soccer as friends, went to the same mosque (Masjad al-Rohban of the Dawa Tabligh), mingled in the same restaurants, barbershops and cafes.

3. Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

's most sustained suicide bombing campaign in 2003-4 involved several buddies from Hebron's Masjad (mosque) al-Jihad soccer team. Most lived in the Wad Abu Katila neighborhood and belonged to the al-Qawasmeh hamula (clan); several were classmates in the neighborhood's local branch of the Palestinian Polytechnic College. Their ages ranged from 18 to 22. At least eight team members were dispatched to suicide shooting and bombing operations by the Hamas military leader in Hebron, Abdullah al-Qawasmeh (killed by Israeli forces in June 2003 and succeeded by his relatives Basel al-Qawasmeh, killed in September 2003, and Imad al-Qawasmeh, captured on 13 October 2004). In retaliation for the assassinations of Hamas leaders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
Ahmed Yassin
Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin was a founder of Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian paramilitary organization and political party. Yassin also served as the spiritual leader of the organization...

 (22 March 2004) and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi
Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi
Dr. Abdel Aziz Ali Abdulmajid al-Rantissi ; 23 October 1947 – 17 April 2004) was the co-founder of the militant Palestinian Islamist organization Hamas with Sheikh Ahmed Yassin....

 (17 April 2004), Imad al-Qawasmeh dispatched Ahmed al-Qawasmeh and Nasim al-Ja'abri for a suicide attack on two buses in Beer Sheva (31 August 2004). In December 2004, Hamas declared a halt to suicide attacks.

On 15 January 2008, the son of Mahmoud al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar is a co-founder of Hamas and a member of the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip. Since the formation of the Hamas/"Change and Reform" government in the Palestinian National Authority in March 2006, al-Zahar has served as foreign minister in the government of prime minister Ismail...

, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

, was killed (another son was killed in a 2003 assassination attempt on Zahar). Three days later, Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak
Ehud Barak is an Israeli politician who served as Prime Minister from 1999 until 2001. He was leader of the Labor Party until January 2011 and holds the posts of Minister of Defense and Deputy Prime Minister in Binyamin Netanyahu's government....

 ordered Israel Defense Forces
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 to seal all border crossings with Gaza, cutting off the flow of vital supplies to the besieged territory in an attempt to stop rocket barrages on Israeli border towns. Nevertheless, violence from both sides only increased. On 4 February 2008, two friends (Mohammed Herbawi, Shadi Zghayer), who were members of the Masjad al-Jihad soccer team, staged a suicide bombing at commercial center in Dimona, Israel. Herbawi had previously been arrested as a 17-year-old on 15 March 2003 shortly after a suicide bombing on Haifa bus (by Mamoud al-Qawasmeh on 5 March 2003) and coordinated suicide shooting attacks on Israeli settlements by others on the team (7 March 2003, Muhsein, Hazem al-Qawasmeh, Fadi Fahuri, Sufian Hariz) and before another set of suicide bombings by team members in Hebron and Jerusalem on May 17–18, 2003 (Fuad al-Qawasmeh, Basem Takruri, Mujahed al-Ja'abri). Although Hamas claimed responsibility for the Dimona attack, the politburo leadership in Damascus and Beirut was clearly initially unaware of who initiated and carried out the attack. It appears that Ahmad al-Ja'abri, military commander of Hamas's Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades
The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades is the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist fundamentalist socio-political organisation Hamas. Created in 1992, under the direction of Yahya Ayyash, the primary objective of the group was to build a coherent military organisation to support the goals of...

 in Gaza (and who is also originally from a Hebron clan) requested the suicide attack through Ayoub Qawasmeh, Hamas's military liaison in Hebron, who knew where to look for eager young men who had self-radicalized together and had already mentally prepared themselves for martyrdom.

Background


The concept of self-sacrifice has long been a part of war. However, many instances of suicide bombing today has intended civilian targets, not military targets alone. "Suicide bombing as a tool of stateless terrorists was dreamed up a hundred years ago by the European anarchists immortalized in Joseph Conrad’s 'Secret Agent.'"


The ritual act of self-sacrifice during combat appeared in a large scale at the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 with the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese kamikaze
Kamikaze
The were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible....

 bombers. In these attacks, airplanes were used as flying bombs. Later in the war, as Japan became more desperate, this act became formalized and ritualized, as planes were outfitted with explosives specific to the task of a suicide mission. Kamikaze strikes were a weapon of asymmetric war used by the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 against United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 and Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s, although the armoured flight deck of the Royal Navy carriers diminished Kamikaze effectiveness.

The Japanese Navy also used both one and two man piloted torpedo
Torpedo
The modern torpedo is a self-propelled missile weapon with an explosive warhead, launched above or below the water surface, propelled underwater towards a target, and designed to detonate either on contact with it or in proximity to it.The term torpedo was originally employed for...

es called kaiten
Kaiten
The Kaiten were manned torpedos and suicide craft, they were used by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the final stages of World War II.-History:...

on suicide missions. Although sometimes called midget submarine
Midget submarine
A midget submarine is any submarine under 150 tons, typically operated by a crew of one or two but sometimes up to 6 or 8, with little or no on-board living accommodation...

s, these were modified versions of the unmanned torpedoes of the time and are distinct from the torpedo-firing midget submarines used earlier in the war, which were designed to infiltrate shore
Shore
A shore or shoreline is the fringe of land at the edge of a large body of water, such as an ocean, sea, or lake. In Physical Oceanography a shore is the wider fringe that is geologically modified by the action of the body of water past and present, while the beach is at the edge of the shore,...

 defences and return to a mother ship
Mother ship
A mother ship is a vessel or aircraft that carries a smaller vessel or aircraft that operates independently from it. Examples include bombers converted to carry experimental aircraft to altitudes where they can conduct their research , or ships that carry small submarines to an area of ocean to be...

 after firing their torpedoes. Though extremely hazardous, these midget submarine attacks were not technically suicide missions, as the earlier kaitens had escape hatches. Later kaitens, by contrast, provided no means of escape.

After aiming a two-person kaiten at their target, the two crew members traditionally embraced and shot each other in the head. Social support for such choices was strong, due in part to Japanese cultural history, in which seppuku
Seppuku
is a form of Japanese ritual suicide by disembowelment. Seppuku was originally reserved only for samurai. Part of the samurai bushido honor code, seppuku was either used voluntarily by samurai to die with honor rather than fall into the hands of their enemies , or as a form of capital punishment...

, honourable suicide, was part of samurai
Samurai
is the term for the military nobility of pre-industrial Japan. According to translator William Scott Wilson: "In Chinese, the character 侍 was originally a verb meaning to wait upon or accompany a person in the upper ranks of society, and this is also true of the original term in Japanese, saburau...

 duty
Duty
Duty is a term that conveys a sense of moral commitment to someone or something. The moral commitment is the sort that results in action and it is not a matter of passive feeling or mere recognition...

. It was also fostered and indoctrinated by the Imperial program to persuade
Persuasion
Persuasion is a form of social influence. It is the process of guiding or bringing oneself or another toward the adoption of an idea, attitude, or action by rational and symbolic means.- Methods :...

 the Japanese soldiers to commit these acts.

Suicide attacks were used as a military tactic aimed at causing material damage in war, during the Second World War in the Pacific as Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 ships were attacked by Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese kamikaze pilots who caused maximum damage by flying their explosive-laden aircraft
Aircraft
An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to fly by gaining support from the air, or, in general, the atmosphere of a planet. An aircraft counters the force of gravity by using either static lift or by using the dynamic lift of an airfoil, or in a few cases the downward thrust from jet engines.Although...

 into military targets, not focused on civilian targets.

During the Battle for Berlin the Luftwaffe flew "Self-sacrifice missions" (Selbstopfereinsatz) against Soviet bridges over the River Oder. These 'total missions' were flown by pilots of the Leonidas Squadron under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Heiner Lange. From 17 April until 20 April 1945, using any aircraft that were available, the Luftwaffe claimed that the squadron destroyed 17 bridges, however the military historian Antony Beevor
Antony Beevor
Antony James Beevor, FRSL is a British historian, educated at Winchester College and Sandhurst. He studied under the famous military historian John Keegan. Beevor is a former officer with the 11th Hussars who served in England and Germany for five years before resigning his commission...

 when writing about the incident thinks that this was exaggerated and that only the railway bridge at Küstrin
Küstrin
Before 1945 Küstrin was a town in the former Prussian province of Brandenburg in Germany, situated on both sides of the Oder river...

 was definitely destroyed. He comments that "thirty-five pilots and aircraft was a high price to pay for such a limited and temporary success". The missions were called off when the Soviet ground forces reached the vicinity of the squadron's airbase at Jüterbog
Jüterbog
Jüterbog is a historic town in north-eastern Germany, located in the Teltow-Fläming district of Brandenburg. It is located on the Nuthe river at the northern slope of the Fläming hill range, about southwest of Berlin.-History:...

.

Following World War II, Viet Minh
Viet Minh
Việt Minh was a national independence coalition formed at Pac Bo on May 19, 1941. The Việt Minh initially formed to seek independence for Vietnam from the French Empire. When the Japanese occupation began, the Việt Minh opposed Japan with support from the United States and the Republic of China...

 "death volunteers" fought against the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 colonial
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

 army
Army
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

 by using a long stick-like explosive to detonate French tanks, as part of their urban warfare tactics.

In 1972, in the hall of the Lod airport
Lod Airport massacre
The Lod Airport massacre was a terrorist attack that occurred on May 30, 1972, in which three members of the Japanese Red Army, on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine , killed 26 people and injured 80 others at Tel Aviv's Lod airport...

 in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, three Japanese used grenade
Grenade
A grenade is a small explosive device that is projected a safe distance away by its user. Soldiers called grenadiers specialize in the use of grenades. The term hand grenade refers any grenade designed to be hand thrown. Grenade Launchers are firearms designed to fire explosive projectile grenades...

s and automatic rifle
Automatic rifle
Automatic rifle is a term generally used to describe a semi-automatic rifle chambered for a rifle cartridge, capable of delivering both semi- and full automatic fire...

s to kill 26 people and wound many more. The group belonged to the Japanese Red Army
Japanese Red Army
The was a Communist terrorist group founded by Fusako Shigenobu early in 1971 in Lebanon. It sometimes called itself Arab-JRA after the Lod airport massacre...

 (JRA) a terrorist organization created in 1969 and allied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a Palestinian Marxist-Leninist organisation founded in 1967. It has consistently been the second-largest of the groups forming the Palestine Liberation Organization , the largest being Fatah...

 (PFLP). Until then, no group involved in terrorism had conducted such a suicide operation in Israel. Members of the JRA became instructors in martial art and kamikaze
Kamikaze
The were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible....

 operations at several training camps bringing the suicide techniques to the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

.

1980 to present


The first modern suicide bombing—involving explosives deliberately carried to the target either on the person or in a civilian vehicle and delivered by surprise—was in 1981; perfected by the factions of the Lebanese Civil War
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of...

 and especially by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) of Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka, officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka is a country off the southern coast of the Indian subcontinent. Known until 1972 as Ceylon , Sri Lanka is an island surrounded by the Indian Ocean, the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait, and lies in the vicinity of India and the...

, the tactic had spread to dozens of countries by 2005. Those hardest-hit are Sri Lanka during its prolonged ethnic conflict
Sri Lankan civil war
The Sri Lankan Civil War was a conflict fought on the island of Sri Lanka. Beginning on July 23, 1983, there was an on-and-off insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam , a separatist militant organization which fought to create an independent Tamil state named Tamil...

, Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 during its civil war
Lebanese Civil War
The Lebanese Civil War was a multifaceted civil war in Lebanon. The war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 150,000 to 230,000 civilian fatalities. Another one million people were wounded, and today approximately 350,000 people remain displaced. There was also a mass exodus of...

, Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 and the Palestinian Territories
Palestinian territories
The Palestinian territories comprise the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Since the Palestinian Declaration of Independence in 1988, the region is today recognized by three-quarters of the world's countries as the State of Palestine or simply Palestine, although this status is not recognized by the...

 since 1994, and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 since the US-led invasion in 2003
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

. Since 2006, al-Shabaab and its predecessor, the Islamic Courts, have carried out major suicide attacks in Somalia.
Suicide attacks per organization, 1983 to 2000.
Tamil Tigers 171
Al-Shabaab >30
Hezbollah and Amal
Amal Movement
Amal Movement is short for the Lebanese Resistance Detachments the acronym for which, in Arabic, is "amal", meaning "hope."Amal was founded in 1975 as the militia wing of the Movement of the Disinherited, a Shi'a political movement founded by Musa...

25
Other Lebanese groups 25
Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

22
PKK 21
Islamic Jihad
Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine
The Islamic Jihad Movement in Palestine known in the West as simply Palestinian Islamic Jihad , is a small Palestinian militant organization. The group has been labelled as a terrorist group by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, Australia and Israel...

8
Chechen separatists 7
Dawa (Kuwait
Kuwait
The State of Kuwait is a sovereign Arab state situated in the north-east of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia. It is bordered by Saudi Arabia to the south at Khafji, and Iraq to the north at Basra. It lies on the north-western shore of the Persian Gulf. The name Kuwait is derived from the...

)
2
Egyptian Islamic Jihad 1
al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya
Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya
Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya is an Egyptian Islamist movement, and is considered a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union and Egyptian governments...

1
Armed Islamic Group of Algeria 1


The Islamic Dawa Party
Islamic Dawa Party
The Islamic Dawa Party or Islamic Call Party is a political party in Iraq. Dawa and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council are two of the main parties in the religious-Shiite United Iraqi Alliance, which won a plurality of seats in both the provisional January 2005 Iraqi election and the longer-term...

's car bomb
Car bomb
A car bomb, or truck bomb also known as a Vehicle Borne Improvised Explosive Device , is an improvised explosive device placed in a car or other vehicle and then detonated. It is commonly used as a weapon of assassination, terrorism, or guerrilla warfare, to kill the occupants of the vehicle,...

ing of the Iraqi embassy in Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 in December 1981 and Hezbollah's bombing of the U.S. embassy in April 1983 and attack on United States Marine and French barracks
1983 Beirut barracks bombing
The Beirut Barracks Bombing occurred during the Lebanese Civil War, when two truck bombs struck separate buildings housing United States and French military forces—members of the Multinational Force in Lebanon—killing 299 American and French servicemen...

 in October 1983 brought suicide bombings international attention. Other parties to the civil war were quick to adopt the tactic, and by 1999 factions such as Hezbollah, the Amal Movement
Amal Movement
Amal Movement is short for the Lebanese Resistance Detachments the acronym for which, in Arabic, is "amal", meaning "hope."Amal was founded in 1975 as the militia wing of the Movement of the Disinherited, a Shi'a political movement founded by Musa...

, the Ba'ath Party, and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party
Syrian Social Nationalist Party
The Syrian Social Nationalist Party , is a secular nationalist political party in Lebanon and Syria. It advocates the establishment of a Syrian nation state spanning the Fertile Crescent, including present day Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Cyprus, Kuwait,...

 had carried out around 50 suicide bombings between them. (The latter of these groups sent the first recorded female suicide bomber
Sana'a Mehaidli
Sana'a Mehaidli was a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party who, at the age of 17, blew herself and a Peugeot filled with explosives up next to an Israeli convoy in Jezzin, South Lebanon, during the Lebanese Civil War...

 in 1985. Female combatants have existed throughout human history and in many different societies, so it is possible that females who engage in suicidal attacks are not new.) Hezbollah was the only one to attack overseas, bombing the Israeli embassy
Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Aires
The attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was a bomb attack on building of the Israeli embassy of Argentina located in Buenos Aires which was carried out on March 17, 1992. 29 civilians were killed in the attack and 242 additional civilians were injured.- The attack :On March 17, 1992...

 (and possibly the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association building
AMIA Bombing
The AMIA bombing was an attack on the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina building in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994, that killed 85 people and injured hundreds. It was Argentina's deadliest bombing...

) in Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires is the capital and largest city of Argentina, and the second-largest metropolitan area in South America, after São Paulo. It is located on the western shore of the estuary of the Río de la Plata, on the southeastern coast of the South American continent...

; as its military and political power have grown, it has since abandoned the tactic.

Lebanon saw the first bombing, but it was the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka who perfected the tactic and inspired its use elsewhere. Their Black Tiger
LTTE Black Tiger
The Black Tigers were a wing of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam , a militant Sri Lankan separatist organization. They were specially selected and trained LTTE cadres whose missions included mounting suicide attacks against military and civilian targets...

 unit has committed between 76 and 168 (estimates vary) suicide bombings since 1987, the higher estimates putting them behind more than half of the world's suicide bombings between 1980 and 2000. The list of victims include former India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

n Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, and the president of Sri Lanka, Ranasinghe Premadasa
Ranasinghe Premadasa
Ranasinghe Premadasa was the 3rd President of Sri Lanka from January 2, 1989 to May 1, 1993. Before that, he served as the Prime Minister in the government headed by J. R. Jayewardene from February 6, 1978 to January 1, 1989...

.
Suicide bombing is a popular tactic among Palestinian terrorist
Palestinian political violence
Palestinian political violence refers to acts of violence undertaken to further the Palestinian cause. These political objectives include self-determination in and sovereignty over Palestine, the liberation of Palestine and establishment of a Palestinian state, either in place of both Israel and...

 organizations like Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Bombers affiliated with these groups often use so-called "suicide belts", explosive device
Explosive device
An explosive device is device that relies on the exothermic reaction of an explosive material to provide an extremely sudden and violent release of energy. Explosive devices have applications as demolition devices and as weapons in the military....

s (often including shrapnel) designed to be strapped to the body under clothing. In order to maximize the loss of life, the bombers seek out cafés or city bus
Bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

es crowded with people at rush hour
Rush hour
A rush hour or peak hour is a part of the day during which traffic congestion on roads and crowding on public transport is at its highest. Normally, this happens twice a day—once in the morning and once in the evening, the times during when the most people commute...

, or less commonly a military target (for example, soldiers waiting for transport at roadside). By seeking enclosed locations, a successful bomber usually kills a large number of people. In Israel, Palestinian suicide bombers have targeted civilian buses, restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and marketplaces.

Palestinian television has aired a number of music videos and announcements that promote
Promotion (marketing)
Promotion is one of the four elements of marketing mix . It is the communication link between sellers and buyers for the purpose of influencing, informing, or persuading a potential buyer's purchasing decision....

 eternal
Eternity
While in the popular mind, eternity often simply means existence for a limitless amount of time, many have used it to refer to a timeless existence altogether outside time. By contrast, infinite temporal existence is then called sempiternity. Something eternal exists outside time; by contrast,...

 reward for children who seek "shahada
Shahada
The Shahada , means "to know and believe without suspicion, as if witnessed"/testification; it is the name of the Islamic creed. The shahada is the Muslim declaration of belief in the oneness of God and acceptance of Muhammad as God's prophet...

", which Palestinian Media Watch has claimed is "Islamic motivation of suicide terrorists". The Chicago Tribune has documented the concern of Palestinian parents that their children are encouraged to take part in suicide operations. Israeli sources have also alleged that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah operate "Paradise Camps", training children as young as 11 to become suicide bombers.

The Kurdistan Workers' Party
Kurdistan Workers' Party
The Kurdistan Workers' Party , commonly known as PKK, also known as KGK and formerly known as KADEK or KONGRA-GEL , is a Kurdish organization which has since 1984 been fighting an armed struggle against the Turkish state for an autonomous Kurdistan and greater cultural and political rights...

 has also employed suicide bombings in the scope of its guerrilla attacks on Turkish security forces since the beginning of their insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984. Although the majority of PKK activity is focused on village guards, gendarme, and military posts, they have employed suicide bombing tactics on tourist sites and commercial centers in Western Turkish cities, especially during the peak of tourism season.

The 11 September attacks involved the hijacking
Aircraft hijacking
Aircraft hijacking is the unlawful seizure of an aircraft by an individual or a group. In most cases, the pilot is forced to fly according to the orders of the hijackers. Occasionally, however, the hijackers have flown the aircraft themselves, such as the September 11 attacks of 2001...

 of large passenger jets
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

 which were deliberately flown into the towers of the World Trade Center
World Trade Center
The original World Trade Center was a complex with seven buildings featuring landmark twin towers in Lower Manhattan, New York City, United States. The complex opened on April 4, 1973, and was destroyed in 2001 during the September 11 attacks. The site is currently being rebuilt with five new...

 in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and the Pentagon
The Pentagon
The Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, located in Arlington County, Virginia. As a symbol of the U.S. military, "the Pentagon" is often used metonymically to refer to the Department of Defense rather than the building itself.Designed by the American architect...

, killing everyone aboard the planes and thousands more in and around the targeted buildings. The passenger jets selected were required to be fully fueled to fly cross-country, turning the planes themselves into the largest suicide bombs in history. The 'September 11' attacks also had a vast economic and political impact: for the cost of the lives of the 19 hijackers and financial expenditure of around US$100,000, al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

, the militant
Militant
The word militant, which is both an adjective and a noun, usually is used to mean vigorously active, combative and aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in 'militant reformers'. It comes from the 15th century Latin "militare" meaning "to serve as a soldier"...

 Islamist group responsible for the attacks, effected a trillion-dollar drop in global markets within one week, and triggered massive increases in military and security expenditure in response.

On 22 December 2001, Richard Reid attempted to destroy the American Airlines Flight 63
American Airlines Flight 63
The 2001 shoe bomb plot was a failed bombing attempt that occurred on American Airlines Flight 63 flying from Charles De Gaulle International Airport in Paris, France, to Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida, on December 22, 2001.-Incident:...

 by the means of a bomb hidden in a shoe. He was arrested after his attempt was foiled when he was unable to light the bomb's fuse
Fuse (explosives)
In an explosive, pyrotechnic device or military munition, a fuse is the part of the device that initiates function. In common usage, the word fuse is used indiscriminately...

.

After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi and foreign insurgents
Iraqi insurgency
The Iraqi Resistance is composed of a diverse mix of militias, foreign fighters, all-Iraqi units or mixtures opposing the United States-led multinational force in Iraq and the post-2003 Iraqi government...

 carried out waves of suicide bombings. They attacked United States military targets, although many civilian targets (e.g. Shiite mosque
Mosque
A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. The word is likely to have entered the English language through French , from Portuguese , from Spanish , and from Berber , ultimately originating in — . The Arabic word masjid literally means a place of prostration...

s, international offices of the UN and the Red Cross, Iraqi men waiting to apply for jobs with the new army and police
Police
The police is a personification of the state designated to put in practice the enforced law, protect property and reduce civil disorder in civilian matters. Their powers include the legitimized use of force...

 force) were also attacked. In the lead up to the Iraqi parliamentary election, on 30 January 2005, suicide attacks upon civilian and security personnel involved with the election
Election
An election is a formal decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual to hold public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy operates since the 17th century. Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the...

s increased, and there were reports of the insurgents co-opting disabled people as involuntary suicide bombers.
In the first eight months of 2008, Pakistan overtook Iraq and Afghanistan in suicide bombings, with 28 bombings killing 471 people.


First the targets were American soldiers, then mostly Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

is, including women and children. From Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 and Israel, the technique of suicide bombing moved to Iraq, where the targets have included mosques and shrines, and the intended victims have mostly been Shiite Iraqis
Iraqi people
The Iraqi people or Mesopotamian people are natives or inhabitants of the country of Iraq, known since antiquity as Mesopotamia , with a large diaspora throughout the Arab World, Europe, the Americas, and...

. The newest testing ground is Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, where both the perpetrators and the targets are orthodox Sunni Muslims. Not long ago, a bombing in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province
Helmand Province
Helmand is one of the 34 provinces of Afghanistan. It is in the southwest of the country. Its capital is Lashkar Gah. The Helmand River flows through the mainly desert region, providing water for irrigation....

, killed Muslims, including women, who were applying to go on pilgrimage
Hajj
The Hajj is the pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. It is one of the largest pilgrimages in the world, and is the fifth pillar of Islam, a religious duty that must be carried out at least once in their lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford to do so...

 to Mecca
Mecca
Mecca is a city in the Hijaz and the capital of Makkah province in Saudi Arabia. The city is located inland from Jeddah in a narrow valley at a height of above sea level...

. Overall, the trend is definitively in the direction of Muslim-on-Muslim violence. By a conservative accounting, more than three times as many Iraqis have been killed by suicide bombings in the last 3 years as have Israelis in the last 10. Suicide bombing has become the archetype of Muslim violence — not just to Westerners but also to Muslims themselves.

Public Surveys


The Pew Global Attitudes Project surveys Muslim publics to measure support for suicide bombing and other forms of violence that target civilians in order to defend Islam. In the annual poll, the highest support for such acts has been reported by Palestinians (at approximately 70 percent), except for years in which Palestinians were not surveyed. The lowest support has generally been observed in Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 (between 3 and 17 percent, depending on the year). The 2009 report concluded that support for suicide bombing has declined in recent years, especially in Pakistan, where support dropped from 33 percent in 2002 (the first year of the survey) to 5 percent in 2009.

Response


World leaders, especially those of countries that experience suicide bombings, usually express resolve to continue on their previous course of affairs after such attacks. They denounce suicide bombings and sometimes vow not to let such bombings deter ordinary people from going about their everyday economic business.

Suicide bombings are sometimes followed by reprisal
Reprisal
In international law, a reprisal is a limited and deliberate violation of international law to punish another sovereign state that has already broken them. Reprisals in the laws of war are extremely limited, as they commonly breached the rights of civilians, an action outlawed by the Geneva...

s. As a successful suicide bomber cannot be targeted, the response is often a targeting of those believed to have sent the bomber. In targeting such organization
Organization
An organization is a social group which distributes tasks for a collective goal. The word itself is derived from the Greek word organon, itself derived from the better-known word ergon - as we know `organ` - and it means a compartment for a particular job.There are a variety of legal types of...

s, Israel often uses military strikes against organizations, individuals, and possibly infrastructure
Infrastructure
Infrastructure is basic physical and organizational structures needed for the operation of a society or enterprise, or the services and facilities necessary for an economy to function...

. In the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 the IDF
Israel Defense Forces
The Israel Defense Forces , commonly known in Israel by the Hebrew acronym Tzahal , are the military forces of the State of Israel. They consist of the ground forces, air force and navy. It is the sole military wing of the Israeli security forces, and has no civilian jurisdiction within Israel...

 formerly demolished
Demolition
Demolition is the tearing-down of buildings and other structures, the opposite of construction. Demolition contrasts with deconstruction, which involves taking a building apart while carefully preserving valuable elements for re-use....

 homes that belong to families whose children (or renters whose tenants) had volunteered for such missions (whether successfully or not), though an internal review starting in October 2004 brought an end to the policy. The effectiveness of suicide bombings—notably those of the Japanese kamikaze
Kamikaze
The were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible....

s, the Palestinian bombers, and even the September 11, 2001 attacks—is debatable. Although kamikaze attacks could not stop the Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 advance in the Pacific
Pacific War
The Pacific War, also sometimes called the Asia-Pacific War refers broadly to the parts of World War II that took place in the Pacific Ocean, its islands, and in East Asia, then called the Far East...

, they inflicted more casualties and delayed the fall of Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 for longer than might have been the case using only the conventional methods available to the Japanese Empire
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

. The attacks reinforced the resolution of the World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 Allies to destroy the Imperial force, and likely would have been considered in the decision to use atomic bombs against Japan
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

.

In the case of the September 11 attacks, the long-term effects remain to be seen, but in the short term, the results were negative for Al-Qaeda, as well as the Taliban Movement. Since the September 11 attacks, Western nations have diverted massive resources towards stopping similar actions, as well as tightening up border
Border
Borders define geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions, such as governments, sovereign states, federated states and other subnational entities. Some borders—such as a state's internal administrative borders, or inter-state borders within the Schengen Area—are open and...

s, and military actions against various countries believed to have been involved with terrorism. Critics of the War on Terrorism
War on Terrorism
The War on Terror is a term commonly applied to an international military campaign led by the United States and the United Kingdom with the support of other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation as well as non-NATO countries...

 suggest the results were negative, as the proceeding actions of the United States and other countries has increased the number of recruits, and their willingness to carry out suicide bombings.

It is more difficult to determine whether Palestinian suicide bombings have proved to be a successful tactic. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli-Palestinian conflict
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict is the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The conflict is wide-ranging, and the term is also used in reference to the earlier phases of the same conflict, between Jewish and Zionist yishuv and the Arab population living in Palestine under Ottoman or...

, the suicide bombers were repeatedly deployed since the Oslo Accords
Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

.
In 1996, the Israelis elected the conservative candidate Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin "Bibi" Netanyahu is the current Prime Minister of Israel. He serves also as the Chairman of the Likud Party, as a Knesset member, as the Health Minister of Israel, as the Pensioner Affairs Minister of Israel and as the Economic Strategy Minister of Israel.Netanyahu is the first and, to...

 who promised to restore safety by conditioning every step in the peace process on Israel's assessment of the Palestinian Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

's fulfillment of its obligations in curbing violence as outlined in the Oslo agreements.

In the course of al-Aqsa Intifada
Al-Aqsa Intifada
The Second Intifada, also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the Oslo War, was the second Palestinian uprising, a period of intensified Palestinian-Israeli violence, which began in late September 2000...

 which followed the collapse of the Camp David II
Camp David 2000 Summit
The Middle East Peace Summit at Camp David of July 2000 took place between United States President Bill Clinton, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, and Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat...

 summit between the PLO
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

 and Israel, the number of suicide attacks increased. In response, Israel mobilized
Mobilization
Mobilization is the act of assembling and making both troops and supplies ready for war. The word mobilization was first used, in a military context, in order to describe the preparation of the Prussian army during the 1850s and 1860s. Mobilization theories and techniques have continuously changed...

 its army in order to seal off the Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

 and reinstate military control of the West Bank, patrolling the area with tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s. The Israelis also began a campaign of targeted killing
Targeted killing
Targeted killing is the deliberate, specific targeting and killing, by a government or its agents, of a supposed terrorist or of a supposed "unlawful combatant" who is not in that government's custody...

s to kill militant
Militant
The word militant, which is both an adjective and a noun, usually is used to mean vigorously active, combative and aggressive, especially in support of a cause, as in 'militant reformers'. It comes from the 15th century Latin "militare" meaning "to serve as a soldier"...

 Palestinian leaders, using jets and helicopter
Helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

s to deploy high-precision bombs and missiles
Precision bombing
Precision bombing is bombing of a small target with extreme accuracy, to limit side-effect damage. An example would be destroying a single building in a built up area causing minimal damage to the surroundings...

.

The suicide missions, having killed and injured many Israelis, are believed by some to have brought on a move to the political right, increasing public support for hard-line policies towards the Palestinians, and a government headed by the former general
General
A general officer is an officer of high military rank, usually in the army, and in some nations, the air force. The term is widely used by many nations of the world, and when a country uses a different term, there is an equivalent title given....

, prime minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon
Ariel Sharon is an Israeli statesman and retired general, who served as Israel’s 11th Prime Minister. He has been in a permanent vegetative state since suffering a stroke on 4 January 2006....

. In response to the suicide bombings, Sharon's government has imposed restrictions on the Palestinian community, making many aspects of life difficult for them. The Separation barrier
Israeli West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by the State of Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately...

 under construction seems to be part of the Israeli government's efforts to stop suicide bombers from entering Israel.

Social support by some for this activity remained, however, as of the calling of a truce at the end of June 2003. This may be due to the economic or social purpose of the suicide bombing and the bombers' refusal to accept external judgements on those who sanction them.

If the objective is to kill as many people as possible, suicide bombing by terrorists may thus "work" as a tactic in that it costs fewer lives than any conventional military tactic and targeting unarmed civilians is much easier than targeting soldiers. As an objective designed to achieve some form of favorable outcome, especially a political outcome, most believe it to be a failure. Terrorist campaigns involving the targeting of civilians have never won a war. Analysts believe that in order to win or succeed, any guerrilla or terrorist campaign must first transform into something more than a guerrilla or terrorist movement. Such analysts believe that a terrorist cause has little political attraction and success may be achieved only by renouncing terrorism and transforming the passions into politics.

Often extremists assert that, because they are outclassed militarily, suicide bombings are necessary. For example, the former leader of Hamas Sheikh Ahmad Yassin
Ahmed Yassin
Sheikh Ahmed Ismail Hassan Yassin was a founder of Hamas, an Islamist Palestinian paramilitary organization and political party. Yassin also served as the spiritual leader of the organization...

 stated: "Once we have warplanes and missiles, then we can think of changing our means of legitimate self-defense. But right now, we can only tackle the fire with our bare hands and sacrifice ourselves."

Such views are challenged both from the outside and from within Islam. According to Islamic jurist and scholar Khaled Abou Al-Fadl,
The classical jurists, nearly without exception, argued that those who attack by stealth, while targeting noncombatants in order to terrorize the resident and wayfarer, are corrupters of the earth. "Resident and wayfarer" was a legal expression that meant that whether the attackers terrorize people in their urban centers or terrorize travelers, the result was the same: all such attacks constitute a corruption of the earth. The legal term given to people who act this way was muharibun (those who wage war against society), and the crime is called the crime of hiraba (waging war against society). The crime of hiraba was so serious and repugnant that, according to Islamic law, those guilty of this crime were considered enemies of humankind and were not to be given quarter or sanctuary anywhere.
...
Those who are familiar with the classical tradition will find the parallels between what were described as crimes of hiraba and what is often called terrorism today nothing short of remarkable. The classical jurists considered crimes such as assassinations, setting fires, or poisoning water wells – that could indiscriminately kill the innocent – as offenses of hiraba. Furthermore, hijacking methods of transportation or crucifying people in order to spread fear are also crimes of hiraba. Importantly, Islamic law strictly prohibited the taking of hostages, the mutilation of corpses, and torture.

Usage of term



The usage of the term "suicide bombing" dates back to at least 1940. A 10 August 1940 New York Times article of mentions the term in relation to German
Germany
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 tactics. A 4 March 1942 article refers to a Japanese attempt as a "suicide bombing" on an American carrier. The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

 (London) of 15 April 1947, page 2, refers to a new pilotless, radio-controlled rocket missile thus: "Designed originally as a counter-measure to the Japanese 'suicide-bomber,' it is now a potent weapon for defence or offence". The quotes are in the original and suggest that the phrase was an existing one. An earlier article (21 Aug 1945, page 6) refers to a kamikaze
Kamikaze
The were suicide attacks by military aviators from the Empire of Japan against Allied naval vessels in the closing stages of the Pacific campaign of World War II, designed to destroy as many warships as possible....

 plane as a "suicide-bomb". Even earlier, though not using the exact phrase, the magazine Modern Mechanix (February 1936) reports the Italians reacted to a possible oil embargo by stating that they would carry out attacks with "a squadron of aviators pledged to crash their death-laden planes in suicidal dives directly onto the decks of British ships".

The term with the meaning "an attacker blowing up himself or a vehicle to kill others" appeared in 1981, when it was used by Thomas Baldwin in an Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 article to describe the bombing of the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut.

In order to assign either a more positive or negative connotation to the act, suicide bombing is sometimes referred to by different terms. Islamists often call the act a isshtahad (meaning martyrdom operation), and the suicide bomber a shahid (pl. shuhada, literally 'witness' and usually translated as 'martyr'). The term denotes one who died in order to testify his faith in God, for example those who die while waging jihad bis saif
Jihad
Jihad , an Islamic term, is a religious duty of Muslims. In Arabic, the word jihād translates as a noun meaning "struggle". Jihad appears 41 times in the Quran and frequently in the idiomatic expression "striving in the way of God ". A person engaged in jihad is called a mujahid; the plural is...

; it is applied to suicide bombers, by the Palestinian Authority among others, in part to overcome Islamic strictures against suicide. This term has been embraced by Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades
Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades
The al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades is a coalition of Palestinian nationalist militias in the West Bank. The group's name refers to the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem...

, Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

 and other Palestinian factions engaging in suicide bombings. (The title is by no means restricted to suicide bombers and can be used for a wide range of people, including innocent victims; Muhammad al-Durra, for example, is among the most famous shuhada of the Intifada, and even a few non-Palestinians such as Tom Hurndall
Tom Hurndall
Thomas "Tom" Hurndall was a British photography student, a volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement , and an activist against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories. On 11 April 2003, he was shot in the head in the Gaza Strip by an Israel Defense Forces sniper, Taysir Hayb...

 and Rachel Corrie
Rachel Corrie
Rachel Aliene Corrie was an American member of the International Solidarity Movement . She was killed in the Gaza Strip by an Israel Defence Forces bulldozer when she was standing or kneeling in front of a local Palestinian's home, thus acting as a human shield, attempting to prevent the IDF from...

 have been called shahid).

Homicide bombing


Some effort has been made to replace the term suicide bombing with the term homicide bombing by commentators and news outlets. The first such use was by White House Press Secretary
White House Press Secretary
The White House Press Secretary is a senior White House official whose primary responsibility is to act as spokesperson for the government administration....

 Ari Fleischer
Ari Fleischer
On May 19, 2003, he announced that he would resign during the summer, citing a desire to spend more time with his wife and to work in the private sector...

 in April 2002. However, it has failed to catch on; the only major media outlets to use it were Fox News Channel
Fox News Channel
Fox News Channel , often called Fox News, is a cable and satellite television news channel owned by the Fox Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of News Corporation...

and the New York Post
New York Post
The New York Post is the 13th-oldest newspaper published in the United States and is generally acknowledged as the oldest to have been published continuously as a daily, although – as is the case with most other papers – its publication has been periodically interrupted by labor actions...

(both owned by News Corporation
News Corporation
News Corporation or News Corp. is an American multinational media conglomerate. It is the world's second-largest media conglomerate as of 2011 in terms of revenue, and the world's third largest in entertainment as of 2009, although the BBC remains the world's largest broadcaster...

).

Supporters of the term homicide bombing argue that since the primary purpose of such a bombing is to kill other people rather than merely to end one's own life, the term homicide is a more accurate description than suicide. However, any bombing intended to cause human deaths can be classified as a homicide bombing. Therefore, some have argued that homicide bombing is a less useful term, since it fails to capture the distinctive feature of suicide bombings: namely, the bombers' use of means which they are aware will inevitably bring about their own deaths.

Another attempted replacement is genocide bombing. The term was coined in 2002 by a Jewish member of the Canadian parliament, Irwin Cotler
Irwin Cotler
Irwin Cotler, PC, OC, MP was Canada's Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada from 2003 until the Liberal government of Paul Martin lost power following the 2006 federal election. He was first elected to the Canadian House of Commons for the constituency of Mount Royal in a by-election...

, in an effort to replace the term homicide bomber as a substitute for "suicide bomber." The intention was to focus attention on the alleged intention of genocide
Genocide
Genocide is defined as "the deliberate and systematic destruction, in whole or in part, of an ethnic, racial, religious, or national group", though what constitutes enough of a "part" to qualify as genocide has been subject to much debate by legal scholars...

 by militant Palestinians in their calls to "Wipe Israel off the map."

See also

  • Pierre Rehov
    Pierre Rehov
    Pierre Rehov is the pseudonym of a French film maker and novelist, most known for his movies which are almost exclusively based on the Arab-Israeli conflict....

  • Child suicide bombers in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
  • List of Palestinian suicide attacks
  • 2010 Austin plane crash
    2010 Austin plane crash
    The 2010 Austin suicide attack occurred on 18 February 2010, when Andrew Joseph Stack III, flying his Piper Dakota, crashed into Building I of the Echelon office complex in Austin, Texas, United States, killing himself and Internal Revenue Service manager Vernon Hunter. Thirteen others were...


Further reading



Books

Articles
  • Atran, Scott (2003). "Genesis of suicide terrorism". Science, 299, pp. 1534–1539.
  • Conesa, Pierre (2004). "Aux origines des attentats-suicides". Le Monde diplomatique, June, 2004.
  • Hoffman, Bruce (2003). "The logic of suicide terrorism". The Atlantic, June, 2003.
  • Kix, Paul (2010). "The truth about suicide bombers." Boston Globe.
  • Lankford, Adam. (2010). Do Suicide Terrorists Exhibit Clinically Suicidal Risk Factors? A Review of Initial Evidence and Call for Future Research. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 15, pp. 334–340.
  • Takeda, Arata (2010). "Suicide bombers in Western literature: demythologizing a mythic discourse". Contemporary Justice Review, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp. 455–475.


Webpages

External links