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On May 12, 2003 three separate teams of terrorists carried out suicide bomb attacks on the Dorrat Al Jadawel compound, the Al Hamra Oasis Village and the Vinnel Corporation Compound all of which were located in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
Their actions resulted in the deaths of 35 people with well over 160 others injured in the process (The world this week, 2003). It was an attack that was unprecedented in the history of Saudi Arabia since it was ideological in nature and was aimed specifically at foreign nationals (The world this week, 2003).
When examining the various aspects of this case the most interesting facet is the motivation behind the actions of the suicide bombers. As seen in the recorded wills that were made shortly before they carried out their suicide attacks, one interconnecting theme between all of the bombers is their assumption that what they do is for the “greater good” in that through their actions they would “rescue and defend” their fellow Arabs from the unjust incursions of foreign powers on both the land and culture of the Arab people.
In fact various studies which have examined the psychological underpinnings of suicide bombings have shown that most if not all of the participants involved don’t view the potentially dozens of people they may kill as a sin rather for them it is an act of devotion towards the precepts of Islam (Cooper, 2008).
When taking such factors into consideration it is thus important to examine the reactions of the general public towards the actions of the suicide bombers. The reason behind this is quite simple, if the suicide bombers are doing this “for the people” as they say then it is important to understand the whether the general public has a positive or negative reaction towards such violent actions which are “supposedly” for their sake.
The objective of this report is to investigate the following:
1.) Discern the general impression the selected respondents have on the suicide bombing incidents in Riyadh.
2.) Determine whether the respondents would be more inclined towards thinking of terrorism in a positive way if it were to occur in another country.
3.) Examine the general impression the respondents have on foreign interests within Saudi Arabia.
4.) Analyze the reactions of the respondents towards the decision making process of the suicide bombers.
5.) Determine the current view of the respondents towards the actions of terrorist groups who radicalize certain elements of the Quran in order to justify bombing public areas.
6.) Examine the general impression the respondents have regarding the possible negative ramifications of correlated to Islam as a direct result of the actions of suicide bombers and terrorist groups.
The following questions will also be asked from the respondents:
- Do you believe that the suicide bombers are being misinformed by terrorist groups regarding the necessity of violent action in order to achieve their goals?
- What do you believe is the primary reason why “volunteers” would willingly sacrifice their lives? Is it primarily a religious reason or are their social underpinnings regarding their actions?
- Do you think that the actions of the Riyadh suicide bombers was justified given the fact that so many innocent people died who had absolutely nothing to do with the U.S. lead invasion of Iraq?
- Do you harbor any ill will towards the U.S. is general? Or do you believe that it isn’t the American people who are at fault but rather their misguided leadership?
- From your point of view, do you believe it is justified to kill dozens of people for the sake of getting a point across?
The hypothesis of this study is that while the general public within Saudi Arabia don’t necessarily like the interference foreign powers (particularly the U.S.) have had on their land, culture and internal affairs most people think that acts of terrorism hinder rather than result in any positive resolution to the issue.
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The sub-hypothesis of this study also assumes that the general public within Riyadh thinks the acts of terrorism actually result in global mistrust, apprehension and even vilification of Arabs in general which hinders international efforts towards peaceful relations with other cultures and states.
Framing an Interview Schedule
Due to the sensitive nature of this investigation the questionnaire results will be completely anonymous with the respondents of the study picked randomly within the school campus as well as various members of the local community near the campus or within the proximity of the researcher’s home. This is done in order to ensure a certain degree of diversity in the answers given.
The questionnaires themselves will be handed on an individual basis with the researcher waiting for each participant to finish completing the questionnaire. After completion each respondent will be assured of the anonymity of their responses and that in no way will their identity be disclosed. This particular interview will be conducted on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in order to get the maximum number of respondents for the questionnaire.
Several members of the researcher’s friends and family will be asked to deliver questionnaires to various individuals that they know. This ensures that the research results will not be biased since the researcher is merely asking them to recruit respondents and not fill out the forms themselves. 10 respondents will be utilized for this particular study.
|Response to the Questionnaire||Positive||Negative|
|Impression on Suicide Bombers||5%||95%|
|Impression on foreign interference||20%||80%|
|Impression on the ideology behind suicide attacks||5%||95%|
|Impression on Terrorist Organization’s use of Radical Islam||20%||80%|
|Affect on the views of other countries on Islam as a result of the bombings||0%||100%|
The data from the respondents show that 95% of the respondents have a generally negative impression regarding the actions of suicide bombers and in fact 100% of them stated that in no way is terrorism justified whether in their country or another due to the loss of innocent life. Of the 5% that had a positive impression regarding the bombings their primary reasoning was connected to their belief that a message needed to be sent.
Further examination of the research results showed that 80% of the respondents had a generally negative impression regarding foreign interference within the internal domestic policies of Saudi Arabia and in fact the 80% regarded foreign interference as one of the main reasons behind the so called “corruption” of the traditional values within the nation. 20% of the respondents on the other hand a distinctly different impression since they regard western influences as another aspect of the globalization of cultures, business and even governance which people should embrace.
When presented with the question regarding their impression of the decision making processes that influenced the terrorist bombers 95% agreed that the reasoning behind such actions were flawed and that it was merely a result of a radicalized interpretation of the Quran which many within the conservative Islamic state consider to be highly unethical and actually against the precepts established by the Prophet Mohammed.
From their point of view, the bloodshed and grief caused by acts of terrorism can never be truly justified especially when taking into consideration the fact that they are targeting the wrong individuals. On the other hand 5% of the respondents did agree with the actions of the bombers with the justification that the protection of the “people” justified such actions.
Presented with the question regarding their impression of the use of terrorist groups of radicalized elements of Islam in order to convince people to commit acts of terrorism 80% of the respondents indicated that it was a vehement atrocity against the Quran to twist its words in such a way so as to cause someone to give up their life for a false cause.
On the other hand 20% of the respondents indicated that the men responsible for the suicide bombings should be held accountable for their own actions since they had the ethical responsibility to not commit such atrocities in the first place yet still went through with it.
Not only that, 100% of the respondents are in agreement that the actions of the suicide bombers does cast a negative light on Islam since it creates a connotation between it and the radicalized actions of a few which is being attributed to the many by various countries all over the world which has resulted in a generally negative view against both the practitioners of Islam as well as Arabs in general.
Overall, the results of the study show an overwhelming abhorrence from the respondents regarding the actions of suicide bombers. The primary reason behind this negative reaction is due to the fact that the people they are targeting are often the innocent who never really caused any harm.
Interpretation of Findings
Based on the findings of the investigation it clearly shows that a vast majority of the respondents for this study are clearly against the concept of suicide bombings. Various studies which have examined this particular issue from various angles indicate that the problem lies in the fact that such attacks don’t discriminate against the innocent and the guilty and as such results in more problems than solutions.
In fact studies such as those by Witty (2009) indicate that the various suicide attacks that have been occurring within the Middle East have mostly involved the deaths of innocent people which has resulted in public opinion turning against terrorist groups in general due to their non-discriminatory actions (Witty, 2009).
It must also be noted that most people within the Muslim community view the actions of suicide bombers as generally originating from radicalized versions of Islamic text and are in no way in accordance with the primary methods of teaching of Islam.
In fact various Islamic scholars point out that the way in which “radical Islam” (referring to the type of Islam espoused by people such as blind Sheik and Osama Bin Laden) is in fact so divergent from the original context that it is apparent that it has been warped by terrorist groups for their own purposes (Mohapatra, 2002).
Most of the respondents agree that the interference of foreign powers in the domestic issues of states such as Saudi Arabia is disrespectful of the traditions and indigenous knowledge that are the cornerstones of the Arabic culture however they do acknowledge the fact that to resist all forms connectivity with the outside world is a terrible concept and would result in negative repercussions.
In fact based on the data from the study, a majority of the respondents agree that the actions of suicide bomber actually creates a negative image regarding Islam and makes it that much more difficult to establish positive relationships with other states (Zuhdi, n.d).
Thus, it can be stated that based on the results of the survey most of the respondents don’t agree with the actions of the suicide bombers and as such nullifies the argument of the bombers and terrorist groups who say that they are doing this for the “people”. If the people themselves don’t want such actions to be done in the first place, how can it really be said that what they are doing is for the people at all?
The primary and sub hypothesis of this report has been proven to be accurate when it stated that while the general public within Saudi Arabia don’t necessarily like the interference foreign powers (particularly the U.S.) have had on their land, culture and internal affairs most people think that acts of terrorism hinder rather than result in any positive resolution to the issue. Not only that, the study has also shown that the resulting “image backlash” as a direct result of the bombings has in effect adversely affected Islam and the Arabic people.
What must be understood is that while people acknowledge the fact that there are problems they believe that the death of innocents is not the way to go about resolving such issues especially when taking into consideration the fact that the methods utilized are based on an aspect of Islam that is not accepted by mainstream leaders of the Islamic world.
Cooper, L. F. (2008). Terrorism and Modernity. New Politics, 12(1), 107.
Mohapatra, A. K. (2002). Radical islam: ideology behind global terrorism. India Quarterly, 58(2), 93.
The world this week. (2003). Economist, 367(8324), 6.
Witty, D. M. (2009). The Last Crusade: Americanism and the Islamic Reformation / Unmodern Men in the Modern World: Radical Islam, Terrorism, and the War on Modernity. Journal Of Military History, 73(2), 693-695.
Zuhdi, J. (n.d). Muslims in the crosshairs. Washington Times, The (DC).