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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Jihad and suicide bombings

  • Are the suicide bombers, or the casualties in the bombing, or the government in whose governance the bombing takes place, the victims in suicide bombings? What are the effects of suicide bombings on the victim societies?
In a suicide bombing, the victims include everyone at the site of the blast and their families, except the bombers themselves and their families. Other victims include the governments and societies in which the bombings take place. Suicide attacks can have different effects depending on the society in which they occur. The 9/11 attacks generated a demand by the American people for retribution, justice, and confrontation of the ideology that generated the attack. The 2004 Madrid bombings led to a massive countrywide demonstration against terror, then the Spanish went to the voting booth three days later and elected a government that immediately pulled Spanish troops out of Iraq.
  • Are the religious rationales used to justify suicide bombing valid? Why/why not?
No. “Terrorists have used deeply rooted Islamic cultural values to justify their actions and raise a global Muslim conscience that can be managed according to their agenda” (AntĂșnez & Tellidis, 2013, p.118). But, just like a child who gets caught stealing, and attempts to tell lies to avoid the punishment he will receive, the stories that Islamists tell to justify themselves have no bearing to morality. The particular story they tell themselves in this case is that the intention to “service Islam” (Ibrahim, 2007, 138) is all that matters. Reinforcing the religious motive of suicide bombers is the contention that suicide bombers do not generally suffer from mental disease. Borum claims that “Existing research reveals a marked absence of major psychopathology among 'would-be' suicide attackers” (2004, p. 33).
  • The religious groups like the Al Qaeda legitimate their acts and the motives as acts of jihad (struggle) and shahadat (martyrdom). Is terrorism justified from the perspective of struggle and martyrdom? Why/why not?
No. Considering that the definition of terrorism includes the targeting of innocents, then no perspective justifies it's use. The only perspective that needs to be understood from the Islamist point of view is that they seek to subjugate us; "For the Islamists there can be no compromise or coexistence with Western civilization" (Bodansky, 1999, p. 388).

AntĂșnez, J. C., & Tellidis, I. (2013). The power of words: the deficient terminology surrounding Islam-related terrorism. Critical Studies on Terrorism, 6(1), 118–139. doi:10.1080/17539153.2013.765703

Bodansky, Y. (1999). Bin Laden:The man who declared war on America. Roseville, California, Prima Publishing
Borum, R. (2004). Psychology of terrorism. University of South Florida. Retrieved October 9, 2014 from http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1000&context=randy_borum

Ibrahim, R. (2007). The al Qaeda reader. New York, New York. Broadway Books

You wouldn't be able to counter the religious logic.  That is baked into people on a pretty deep level.  I think you would have to propagandize the futility of martyrdom.  I don't think that we will use that approach due to our unwillingness as a nation to face the ideological basis of Islam.

Religious fanaticism for the most part, although many suicide bomber have been motivated by the promise of payment to their families.  Finally, some suicide bombers have been mentally disadvantaged people who were taken advantage of:
Mentally Disabled Female Homicide Bombers Blow Up Pet Markets in Baghdad, Killing Dozens. (2008, February 1). [Text.Article]. Retrieved January 31, 2015, from http://www.foxnews.com/story/2008/02/01/mentally-disabled-female-homicide-bombers-blow-up-pet-markets-in-baghdad

Didn't The Lancet used to run iraqbodycount.com?  The site where they used to count Iraqi civilians killed by the terrorists as victims of US "aggression"?  There was a good deal of contempt amongst the military bloggers for The Lancet.

Abrhams makes a counter argument;  terrorists are working under the rational logic that in the long run, they win using even "self-defeating" tactics such as terror bombings. (2004, p.533). 
Abrahms, M. (2004). Are Terrorists Really Rational? The Palestinian Example. Orbis, 48(3), 533–549. doi:10.1016/j.orbis.2004.04.001

agree that we need to look at all argumentation; one important step in doing so is in noting possible bias in sources.  In addition, I don't think we should automatically discredit a biased source, as long as we recognize the possible influence of the bias.

It is more important to understand the methodology that the source uses,  For example, in the iraqbodycount web site example, we can take their base numbers as data if not necessarily the labels they assign to the data...that is, if they they source the data they provide and we can independently verify it.

I agree.  Socialization is the way that humans learn standards of behavior;  it can be likened to a long term form of brainwashing.  A person that grows up in an environment of religious hate, subverted education, and trained "victimhood" is much more likely to answer the call for martyrdom.

Here is an example of a Palestinian children's TV show:

I can't personally emote much with people that grow up and accept that kind of social training, nor for a society composed of people trained in that way.  We would like to believe that all cultures are equal, but reality is quite ugly.

I think that most suicide bombers are "fall men", as you bring up.  However, there is enough pragmatism in the leadership to understand that they need qualified people to handle some functions.
One example is the terrorist who was too valuable to be allowed to be martyred; he “was valued for his inventive fundraising and procurement method” and “such a major player in the Hizballah organization that on five separate occasions his application to be a martyr was rejected” (Gartenstein-Ross & Frum, 2012, p.64).

Gartenstein-Ross, D., & Frum, L. (Eds.). (2012). Terror in the peaceable kingdom: Understanding and addressing violent extremism in Canada. Washington, D.C.: FDD Press.

It is interesting that the Western scholars, who are not Islamic, are telling the Islamic scholars, who are Islamic, what the precepts of Islam do or do not mean.

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