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Organizations Convincing to Become a Suicide Terrorist Essay

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Updated: Apr 24th, 2022


Suicide terrorism is one of the greatest threats to democracy. We have to face this squarely and governments and agencies have to collaborate and unite, concentrate their resources, to suppress this evil intent to kill innocent civilians. The threat of a nuclear terrorist group is also real. If groups like al Qaeda were given the chance to possess nuclear weapons, they would not hesitate to use these weapons against America and any country they consider a land of infidels.

One of the underlying tenets taught to candidate suicide bombers is: “Islam is the answer and jihad is the way.” While all of us peace-loving people value life and fear death, jihadists, or those who embrace radical Islam, embrace death.

The September 11 attack against the United States is an example of a successful suicide bombing using jet airlines crushing against the twin towers of the World Trade Center. The cruelty and ingenuity of inflicting heavy damage with a maximum number of casualties, more than 3,000 deaths, with the use of jumbo jets can provide us a bit of an explanation why this has proliferated in the annals of terrorism.

What is the logic behind suicide bombing?

During World War II, kamikaze pilots used war vintage planes armed with bombs to crush against carrier ships of the enemy and indeed, they were also feared by U.S. warships because of the damage they had inflicted.

Today, young Muslim jihads wrap their bodies with bombs and detonate in the midst of people? They say that it is for religious belief or ‘for Allah’ (Landau, 2007, p. 11), that they commit suicide and kill as many as they could.

Are they religious fanatics or mere ideologues?

Psychology can help explain the mind of a suicide bomber. There is the concept of pathological altruism as explained by Hauser (2012). Pathological altruism refers to any behavior or personal tendency in which ‘the goal or motivation is to provide the welfare of another’ but it results in negative consequences to the other or even to one’s self. Martyrdom or suicide bombing can be the result of an altruistic desire to help one’s own organization.

Altruism may be good in some instances and when done in moderation, but it becomes pathological when it is excessively done, such as killing one’s self (including hundreds or thousands) with the use of bombs to serve the interest of others. According to Hauser (2012, p. 388), pathological altruism is a disease of the mind and body; it evolved from good intentions, then infected by a devil’s mind to kill as many as one could.

Literature Review

One of the international terrorist organizations very much active and operating in the shadows is al Qaeda. It is under new leadership after the dreaded Osama bin Laden was killed by U.S. troops in his hideout in Pakistan. Terrorist groups may not anymore be content with killing thousands of Americans or the enemies they call ‘infidels’, but millions, and they use the Quran to justify their murderous desire. This is pathological altruism to the max.

Suicide attacks have been very effective because suicide bombers can penetrate places and groups of people through deception or disguise, and blow themselves up. It is one of the most unconventional in the annals of warfare, and the most dreaded.

The Beginning of a Bomber

Considered to be the first generation of global jihadists was formed in Afghanistan under the leadership and guidance of Sheikh Abdullah Azzam at the time of the Soviet invasion. They were Arabs and Muslims from different countries who wanted to help their Afghan Muslim brothers. When the Soviet occupation ended, they had nowhere else to go except to their respective countries, but only to be rounded up, imprisoned or executed by their respective governments.

In the 1990s, these experienced jihadists went back to Afghanistan feeling safe with the lawlessness of the country. They made training camps and trained jihadists and suicide bombers. Their goal was to send them back to their own countries and fight their governments and their Western allies. These new jihadists formed the backbone of some of the dreaded cells in the Middle East, and even helped in the insurgencies of Chechnya and Central Asia. (Hafez, 2007, p. 165)

Suicide terrorism in Iraq was popularized by insurgents upon the U.S. occupation in 2003. Suicide attacks targeted civilians. It seemed opposition forces were targeting the Shia civilians who were used as security forces by the new Iraqi government. Suicide attacks increased day by day. Young men (sometimes women) tied bombs under their garments and detonated in the middle of many people.

Palestinians also used suicide bombing in the uprising against Israel in a series of intifadas. It has been proven effective in the Palestinian struggle against a more sophisticated and well-equipped Israeli armed forces. The bombers are proclaimed heroes and symbols of the revolution and for such organizations as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, or the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (Landau, 2007, p. 11)

Islamic Palestinian militants have used suicide bombing as a key weapon against what they call Israel’s occupation of Arab lands. Falk (2009) calls it an intifada with ‘rational emotional causes’ but also characterized by ‘fanatical terrorism’ and ‘suicide terrorism’ to the point of killing thousands.

There are other instances of pathological altruism which can be considered inhuman. Suicide bombing is only one of them. What about the use of biological and chemical weapons to inflict cruel damage to the human body? Terrorists regard these kinds of weapons as a tool to propagate their questionable beliefs, and to establish a purely Islamic state. In establishing this Islamic state, infidels have to be silenced or they should allow themselves to be converted; otherwise, they have to be killed.

Commonalities in suicide bombings

After a bomber’s death, pictures and memorabilia are spread praising and honoring the bomber’s decision to die for religion and country. Islam forbids Muslims to commit suicide but permits a believer to give his life in defense of Islam and for liberating Muslims from the enemy which is Israel.

According to Gambetta (2006 cited in Tobeña, 2012, p. 211), there are common characteristics of people and organizations who promote suicide missions. But after a careful analysis of the incidents including the goals and consequences of suicide bombings, Gambeta found that there is no clear explanation why young recruits engage in suicide missions.

Tobeña (2012) provided a table of commonalities in suicide attacks worldwide:

  • Suicide bombings are usually found in highly asymmetrical warfare when the weaker side is determined to intimidate the stronger forces;
  • Most suicide recruits are volunteers;
  • There are more male suicide bombers than females, a ratio of 8:2;
  • Organizations (e.g. the al Qaeda) are the recruiters who help in providing bombs and finances for transportation and other expenses;
  • Suicide bombers’ weapon is highly effective – 15 times more effective than the ordinary guerilla fighter;
  • Recruitment is restricted in a particular region, but there are always volunteers;
  • Motivations vary for agents and handlers;
  • There is the presence of religious fanaticism;
  • Bombers see themselves as soldiers with a mission for nation and religion;
  • Suicide bombing is common in areas where there are grievances from a minority group (usually U.S., London, or Madrid). (Tobeña, 2012, p. 211)

Motivation or brainwashing

Suicide volunteers are inspired or motivated through fatwas issued by religious leaders. A fatwa that is issued by a Muslim religious leader becomes binding only to his followers. A charismatic leader who is believed to have mystical religious credentials can gain volunteers; a promise of entry to paradise inspires young recruits to do suicide missions. Religious leaders also have the power to excommunicate others whom they consider nonbelievers or kafirs. For example, the leader of the jihadist organization Algerian GIA issued an ex-communication order that led to the mass killing of Algerians. (Palmer & Palmer, 2008, p 179)

In the book ‘Inside the Revolution’, Rosenberg (2009, p. 137) cites numerous instances where Iran, a state sponsor of terrorism, the terrorist group Al-Qaeda, and other terrorist groups have desired to possess nuclear weapons to wipe out their enemies. Suicide bombers can carry nuclear bombs and detonate themselves inside enemy territory. Jihadists, or those who advocate radical Islam, believe that they can use these weapons to kill the enemies of their God, and that jihad is the only way.

Threats are real

The administrations of former President Bush and now President Obama have fought against terrorists in unconventional ways, with the use of sophisticated high-tech weaponry. Policymakers in Washington, past and present, have convinced their allies that the only way to fight terrorism and suicide bombing is through the use of new technology, new weapons that can detect the slightest error terrorists can commit, and new techniques and strategies even employing legal means, like violating human rights of those suspected of being terrorists. The Bush administration used physical and psychological torture in Guantanamo Bay to fight and find terrorists.

Terrorists have never been as dangerous and scheming as ever. Conflicts in the past, such as those fought in history, during civil wars and during the two world wars, were fought with ordinary guns and bullets, although there were some reports of chemical weapons used. The use of the first nuclear bombs against Hiroshima and Nagasaki is said to be unconventional, but it was explained rationally by the United States that the inhabitants of the two cities had to be sacrificed to end the war.

Conventional warfare used mobility as an important factor in war advantage. This was what Sun Tzu meant by saying that rapidity is an essential factor in winning a war. In the age of globalization and high technology, terrorists can travel wherever they want to inflict heavy damage. They can use cell phones and the Internet to receive instructions.

In the book Inside the Revolution, Joel Rosenberg (2009) cites numerous instances where a nuclear Iran, a country considered by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism, the terrorist group al Qaeda, which is under new leadership, and other terrorist groups with their suicide bombers, have desired to manufacture, or now in the process of manufacturing (or now in possession) of a nuclear bomb. This is the annihilation of humanity through suicide.

Denying human rights to suspected terrorists can be one of the options and what agencies can do. Rosenberg (2009) interviewed Fred Schwien, who served as an Airborne Ranger infantry officer and who served in various capacities in the U.S., Europe, and Panama. Schwien also served in Baghdad and various assignments using Black Hawk helicopters, coordinating Homeland Security operations with Iraqi counterparts, and had spent all his professional life protecting ordinary citizens from suicide terrorists.

According to Schwien, denying some rights to suspected terrorists can be effective and inevitable at times in combating terrorism and preserving the security of states. He narrated that there was one guy they stopped coming across because a border agent did not feel that he was legitimate. The border guards did not know what this man was up to; still, they denied him entry.

Two years later, he was found to have been a suicide bomber. His hands were found attached to the steering wheel after a suicide truck bombing in Iraq. United States authorities in Iraq took the fingerprints from those hands and ran them through the Homeland Security database to determine his identification. The system worked. They not only tracked down the bomber’s identity, they were able to confirm that he had tried to enter the United States at one point but had been refused.

Denying entry of an individual is curtailing the right of movement, but what is violating the right of one person if it can save lives. Nations institute measures, enforce laws that violate individual freedom. Protecting the security of their respective states carries a price, which is the temporary diminution of freedom.

Threats of suicide bombing are looming around us. In the United Kingdom, particularly London, terrorist threats are common even after the September 11 attacks against the United States. On July 7, 2005, a series of suicide bombings ripped through a heavily populated area of London and bus systems leaving more than fifty people dead and some seven hundred wounded.

It was a horrifying tragedy, as well as a bracing wake-up call for British authorities who for too long had seemed to ignore the magnitude of the problem. Britain is said to be a haven of suicide terrorists. Of the roughly 1.6 million Muslims in the U.K. today, an estimated one-half of one percent are al Qaeda sympathizers. British officials contend that this could mean 8,000 future terrorists and suicide bombers roaming around Great Britain today. (The UK Independent, July 3, 2006, as cited in Rosenberg, 2009, p. 145)

What government agencies can do

If governments are concerned about the safety and security of their people, they have to do something and do it fast. Legislations, cracking down suspected hide-outs, arresting who they do think are terrorists, seem to be the immediate reaction by governments. This tends to create confusion and more problems for the authorities because of the mounting protests of human rights violations, aggravated by conflicts in the interpretation of the law.

The law may occasionally permit a deviation from the legal norms applicable in times of peace. During times of emergencies, those empowered to execute laws are not required to sacrifice the rights of ordinary citizens, although they are entitled to restrict some of these rights and freedoms in order to protect the security of the majority.

Terrorist groups use suicide bombing because of the results: it uniquely inflicts fear on their enemy aside from the heavy damage incurred (Kiras, 2007, p. 140). Fighting suicide terrorism is no easy job. When a suicide bomber attacks, he is not caught, he goes with the rubbles. When he fails to detonate, he goes back hiding among the civilians.

Investigating and combating terrorism should bring together full cooperation between countries affected by it. The aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the bombings in London, Spain, and other countries, have brought challenges, awareness and vigilance upon governments to utilize whatever they could muster to preempt any suicide attack. Laws have to be strengthened to get the perpetrators to justice. But laws sometimes have to be violated by agents entrusted to enforce them to preempt any possible suicide attack. That still seems logical for civilized people.

Border guards, immigration, and Homeland Security officers are right in enforcing stricter measures along the porous borders of the country. For all we know, a suicide bomber can be finding and pushing through with his creative imagination to attack.

While government agencies and the citizenry have to be vigilant amid mounting threats of suicide terrorism, it is time that government policies are characterized and implemented in a cooperative and friendly manner towards people from the Muslim world, our brothers and sisters who feel separated from the rest of humanity. Not all Muslim countries and groups advocate suicide terrorism. The majority of them abhor suicide terrorism and do not believe in radical Islamism; only a small fraction of the Muslim world believes in the tenets of jihad. As stated in the literature review, martyrdom or suicide bombing is a disease and not a religious belief.


Falk, A. (2004). Fratricide in the holy land: a psychoanalytic view of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Madison, Wisconsin: The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.

Hafez, M. (2007). Suicide bombers in Iraq: the strategy and ideology of martyrdom. Washington, DC: Endowment of the United States Institute of Peace.

Hauser, M. D. (2012). Hell’s angels: a runaway model of pathological altruism. In B. Oakley, A. Knafo, G. Madhavan, & D. Wilson (Eds.), Pathological altruism (pp. 387-388). Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.

Kiras, J. D. (2007). The critical role of interagency in countering suicide bombings. In J. J. Forest (Ed.), Countering terrorism and insurgency in the 21st century: strategic and tactical considerations, pp. 140-141. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group, Inc.

Landau, E. (2007). Suicide bombers: foot soldiers of the terrorist movement. Minneapolis, MN: Twenty-First Century Books.

Palmer, M. & Palmer, P. (2008). Islamic extremism: causes, diversity, & challenges. United States of America: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.

Rosenberg, J. (2009). Inside the revolution: how the founders of jihad, Jefferson, and Jesus are battling to dominate the Middle East and transform the world. United States of America: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

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