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sarrajsprinzakfull1 - iuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii A PALESTINIAN VIEW...

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Unformatted text preview: iuiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii A PALESTINIAN VIEW* A few weeks ago, my sister, a professional and a mother of four, was visibly shaken as she watched, on television, Israeli tanks torturing the streets of a refugee camp and soldiers raping its homes. She shocked us all when she declared that she would like to become a martyr. A few hours later, a young Palestinian woman stunned the world when she turned herself into a human bomb and exploded in Jerusalem, killing one Israeli and wounding 150 others. In the weeks after, more women joined the queue of suicide bombers as the world stood alarmed and bewildered. To understand why Palestinian men; and now women, are blowing themselves up in Israeli restaurants and buses is to understand the Arab— Israeli conflict. Ours is a nation of anger and defi- ance. The struggle today is how not to become a suicide bomber. We are told that there are long queues of people willing to join the road to heaven, and I believe it. What propels people into such action is a long history of humiliation and a desire for revenge that every Arab harbors. Since the establishment of Is- rael in 1948 and the resultant uprooting of Pales- tinians, a deep-seated feeling of shame has taken root in the Arab psyche. Shame is the most painful *From Eyad Sarraj, “Why We Blow Ourselves Up," ”lime Ar— lamic, vol. 159. no. 14 (April 8. 2002), p. 28. © 2002 TIME Inc. Reprinted with permission. 17 WHAT MAKES SUICIDE BOMBERS TICK? EYAD SARMJ EH UD SPRINZQK "I emotion in the Arab culture, producing the feeling 1 that one is unworthy to live. The honorable Arabia -': the one who refuses to suffer shame and dies in dignity. 3 The 35 years of Israeli military occupation of _ the West Bank and the Gaza Strip has served as a continuous reminder of Arab weakness. But it was the destruction of the P.L.O. in Lebanon by Ariel Sharon that decisively shifted the Palestinian~ Israeli confrontation to the occupied territories and Israel. Helplessness and shame gave way to anger that later poured into the streets as defiance. That was the first intifadeh. Suddenly Palestinians felt that they were restoring their honor by fighting the aggressor, by not being helpless victims. Facing a superior Israeli army with its formidable arsenal, they felt morally victorious as the children of the stones became heroes of defiance. While that sense of victory served Arafat as a psychological plat— form to launch his peace initiative and recogni- tion of Israel, it was the Oslo agreement and the peace process that followed that disillusioned the Palestinians and threw them into a new episode of confrontation. The reluctance of Ian raeli governments to implement promised with- drawals from Palestinian land, and then the catastrophic failure of the Camp David talks, prepared the fertile soil for a new breed of mili- tants and suicide bombers. It was the re-eutry of Sharon to the political scene that sparked the new intifadeh. Scores of lg is in 17 SARRAJ AND SPRINZAK WHAT MAKES SUICIDE BOMBERS TICK? 105 Palestinians were killed and maimed as Sharon declared his intention to cause as many casual- ties as possible. This time around, however, Is- raeli soldiers were not on foot and not even visible as they shot from their tanks. Palestinian militants shifted their target to the exposed Israeli civilians in markets and cafes. For the extremist militant, there is no difference between Israelis. They are the enemy; they are all the same. In every case of martyrdom, there is a per- sonal story of tragedy and trauma. A curious jour- nalist once asked me to introduce him to a potential martyr. When the journalist asked, “Why would you do it?” he was told, “Would you fight for your country or not? Of course you would. You would be respected in your country as a brave man, and I would be remembered as a martyr." This is the influence of the teaching of the Koran, the most potent and powerful book in Ara- bia for the past 14 centuries. In the holy book, God promised Muslims who sacrificed themselves for the sake of Islam that they would not die. They would live on in paradise. Muslims, men and women, even secularists, hold to the promise lit- erally. Heaven is then the ultimate reward of the devout who have the courage to take the ultimate test of faith. What the young man did not say was that he was burning with a desire for revenge. He was a tearful witness, at the age of six. to his father’s beating by Israeli soldiers. He would never forget seeing his father taken away, bleeding from the nose. As Sharon was taking Arafat hostage and grinding the salt of humiliation into the sour wounds, he was taking us into a new horrific level of madness. Another Palestinian girl blew herself Up in Jerusalem last week, killing two Israelis and wounding more. She will not be the last. AN ISRAELI VIEW“ October 23, 1983, was one of the most horrific days in the history of modern terrorism. Two mas- sive explosions destroyed the barracks of the U.S. and French contingents of the multinational peace- keeping force in Beirut, Lebanon, killing 241 American servicemen and 58 French paratroopers. Both explosions were carried out by Muslim ex- tremists who drove to the heart of the target area and detonated bombs with no intention of escap- ing. Subsequent suicide attacks against Israeli and U.S. targets in Lebanon and Kuwait made it clear that a new type of killing had entered the reper- toire of modern terrorism: a suicide operation in which the success of the attack depends on the death of the perpetrator. This tactic stunned security experts. Two cen- turies of experience suggested that terrorists, though ready to risk their lives, wished to live. after the terrorist act in order to benefit horn its accom- plishments. But this new terrorism defied that be- lief. It seemed qualitatively different, appearing almost supernatural, extremely lethal, and impos~ sible to stop. Within six months, French and. U.S. Presidents Francois Mitterrand and Ronald Rea- gan pulled their troops out of Lebanon—a tacit ad- mission that the new terrorism rendered all known counterterrori‘st measures useless. Government of- ficials erected concrete barriers around the White House and sealed the Pentagon’s underground bus tunnels. Nobody was reassured. As Tim magazine skeptically observed in 1983: “No security expert thinks such defensive measures will stop a deter- mined Islamic terrorist who expects to join Allah by killing some Americans.” The prevalence of suicide terrorism during the last two decades testifies to its gruesome cfi'ective- ness [see Table 17.1]. It has formed a vital part of several terror campaigns, including Hezbollah‘s successful Operation against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in the mid-1980s, the 1994—96 Harnas bus bombings aimed at stopping the Israeli—Palestinian peace process, and the 1995—99 Kurdistan Work- ers’ Party (PKK) struggle against 'lhrkey. The for- mation of special suicide units within the Liberation *From 13th Sprinzak, "Rational Fanatics,“ Foreign Policy (SeptemberfOctober 2000), pp. 66-73. 106 PART FOUR PHYSICAL VIOLENCE Table 17.1 Martyrdom’s Global Reach SUICIDE A'ITACKS BY TERRORIST ORGANIZATIONS, 1 933w2fl00 Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam 171 Lebanese Hezbollah and Amal 25 Other Lebanese groups 25 Palestinian Hamas 22 Kurdistan Workers’ Party 21 Palestinian Islamichhad 8 Chechen separatists 7 Qaida (Osama bin Laden) 2 Kuwaiti Davva 2 Egyptian Islamiclihad 1 Egyptian lslarnic Group 1 Algerian Armed Islamic Group 1 # Sources: Yoram Schweitzer, "Suicide Terrorism: Development and Characteristics” lHerzliya: International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 2000); Foreign Policy magazine. Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTI‘E) army in Sri Lanka has added an atrocious dimension to the civil war on that devastated island. In addition to killing hundreds of civilians, soldiers, and high-ranking of- ficers since 1987, LTTE suicide terrorists have as- sassinated two heads of state: Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi of India in 1991 and President Ranasinghe Premadasa of Sri Lanka in 1993. Sri Lanka’s cur- rent president, Chandrika Kurnaratrmga, recently lost sight in one eye following an assassination at- tempt that killed at least 24 people. The simultane- ous 1998 bombings of the 115. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which took the lives of nearly 300 civilians, were abrutal reprise of the 1983 tragedies in Lebanon. Almost 20 years after its stunning modern debut, suicide terrorism continues to carry the image of the ‘fitltimate” terror weapon. But is this tactic as unstoppable as it seems? The experiences of the last two decades have yielded important insights into the true nature of suicide bomberm—insights that de- mystify their motivations and strategies, expose their vulnerabilities, and suggest ways to defeat what a se- nior State Department official once called a “fright. . I ening" problem to which there are “no answers.” AVERAGE, EVERYDAY MARTYRS A long view of history reveals that suicide terron ism existed many years before “truck bombs” he'- carne part of the global vernacular. As early as the '1 . 11th century, the Assassins, Muslim fighters fiv; _". ing in northern Persia, adopted suicide terrorism I as a strategy to advance the cause of Islam, In the 18th century the Muslim communities of the Malabar Coast in India, Atjeh in Sumatra, and , Mindanao and Sulu in the southern Philippinesre. sorted to suicide attacks when faced with Euro! 1 ‘ pean colonial repression. These perpetrators never ' perceived their deaths as suicide. Rather, they-saw ' them as acts of martyrdom in the name of the ‘._. community and for the glory of God. Moreover, suicide terrorism, both ancient : ' and modern, is not merely the product of reli- gious fervor, Islamic or otherwise. Martha Cren— shaw, a leading terrorism scholar at Wesleyan University, argues that the mind-set of a suicide ‘. bomber is no different from those of Tibetan .self- _.' immolators, Irish political prisoners ready to die in a hunger strike, or dedicated terrorists world- wide who wish to live after an operation but -' know their chances of survival are negligible. _ Seen in this light, suicide terrorism loses its de- "._ monic uniqueness. It is merely one type of mar- tyrdom venerated by certain cultures or religious _ j traditions but rejected by others who favor dif— ferent modes of supreme sacrifice. Acts of martyrdom vary not only by culture, . but also by specific circumstances. Tel Aviv Uni. versity psychologist Ariel Merari has conducted ' the most comprehensive study of individuals who commit acts of suicide terrorism. After profiling- more than 50 [Muslim suicide bombers, he con.- cluded that there is no single psychological or ; demographic profile of suicide terrorists. Fill- therrnore, he maintains that no organization call create a person’s basic readiness to die.] The task of recruiters is not to produce but rather to iden- t : t __, i l fright- as terror- is” be- as the ars liv— rorism an. In of the a, and nes re- Euro- inever ey saw of the .ncient :f reli- .Cren~ sleyan :uicide tIl self~ ' to die world- on but igible. its do. if mar- ligious 'or dif- :ulture, iv Uni- ducted ds who 'ofiling 1e con- .ical or s. Fur- .on can he task 0 iden- l’? SARRAJ AND SPRJNZAK WHAT MAKES SUICIDE BOMBERS TICK? 107 tify this predisposition in candidates and rein- force it. Recruiters will often exploit religious be- liefs when indoctrinating would-be bombers. using their subjects‘ faith in a reward in paradise to strengthen and solidify preexisting sacrificial motives. But other powerful motives reinforce tendencies toward martyrdom, including patrio- tism, hatred of the enemy, and a profound sense of victimization. Since suicide terrorism is an organizational phenomenon, the struggle against it cannot be conducted on an individual level. Although profiling suicide bombers may be a fascinating academic challenge. it is less relevant in the real- 'vvorld struggle against them than understanding the modus operandi and. mind-set of terrorist leaders who would never consider killing them— selves, but opt for suicide terrorism as a result .of cold reasoning. THE CARE AND FEEDING OF A SUICIDE BONIBER A suicide terrorist is almost always the last link in a long organizational chain that involves numer- ous actors. Once the decision to launch a suicide attack has been made. its implementation requires at least six separate operations: target selection, intelligence gathering, recruitment, physical and “spiritual” training, preparation of explosives, and transportation of the suicide bombers to the target area. Such a mission often involves dozens of terrorists and accomplices. who have no inten- tion of committing suicide, but without whom no suicide Operation could take place. In the cases of Hezbollah and Hamas, no per- manent suicide units were formed, and bombers were recruited and trained on an ad hoc, condi- tional basis. But,_.in rare instances, some organiza- tions adopt suicide terrorism as a legitimate and permanent strategy, harkening back to the Japan~ ese kamikaze pilots of the Second World War. Currently, the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers are the only example of this phenomenon. The “Black Tigers" launched their first attack in July 1987, and since then suicide bombings have become an enduring feature of the LTTE's ruthless struggle. During the last 13 years, 171 attacks have killed hundreds of civilians and soldiers and wounded thousands more. The assassinations of two heads of state, political leaders, and high-ranking mili- tary officers have made it clear that no politician or public figureis immune to these attacks. The Black Tigers constitute the most signifi- cant proof that suicide terrorism is not merely a religious phenomenon and that under certain ex— treme political and psychological circumstances secular volunteers are fully capable of martyrdom. The Tamil suicide bombers are not the product of a religious cult, but rather a cult of personality: Velupillai Prabhakaran. the brutal and charismatic LTI‘E leader Who initiated the practice, appears to have been greatly influenced by the spectacular successes of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Fierce'ly de— termined to fight the repressive Sinhalese govern- ment until the Tamils achieve independence, Prabhaltaran created the suicide units largely by the strength of his personality and his unlimited control of the organization. The formation. of the Black Tigers was greatly facilitated by an early practice of the organiza— tion’s members: Since the early 1980s, all L'ITE fighters—male and female alike—have been re- quired to carry potassium cyanide capsules. A standard L'I'I'E order makes it unequivocally clear that soldiers are to consume the capsule’s contents if capture is imminent. The LTI'E suicide units are essentially an extension of the organization‘s gen— eral culture. of supreme martyrdom; the passage from ordinary combat soldier to suicide bomber is a short and tragic journey. MAKING SUICIDE TERRORISTS PAY The perceived strength of suicide bombers is that they are lone, irrational fanatics who cannot be de- terred. The actual weakness of suicide bombers is that they are nothing more than the instruments of terrorist leaders who expect their organizations to gain tangible benefits from this shocking tactic. 108 PART FOUR PHYSICAL VIOLENCE . . . [O]nce it has been established that an or- ganization has resolved to use suicide terrorism. security services can strike against the com- manders and field officers who recruit and train the assailants and then plan the attacks. This counterterrorism effort calls for the formation of effective networks of infon'ners, the constant monitoring of potential collaborators, and close cooperation among international intelligence services. Counterterrorist operatives must apply consistent pressure on the terrorist infrastructure through harassment and attacks. They must also seek ways to cut off the terrorists sources of fun- ding by depriving organizations of their financial resources (such as international bank accounts or “front” businesses). Regardless of the presence or absence of hard evidence for planned opera« tions, it is essential to put potential terrorists on the run. In fighting suicide bombers, it is important not to succumb to the idea that they are ready to do anything and lose everything. This is the same sort of simplistic reasoning that has fueled the REVIEW QUESTIONS widespread hysteria over terrorists acquiring weapons of mass destruction {WMD}. The per. ception that terrorists are undeterrable fanatics who are willing to kill millions indiscriminately ‘ " just to sow fear and chaos belies the reality that ' '_ they are cold, rational killers who employ via» I. lence to achieve specific political objectives. Whereas the threat of WMD terrorism is little." . more than overheated rhetoric. suicide bombing remains a devastating form of terrorism whose complete demise is unlikely in the let century, 1: The ongoing political instability in the Middle ' East, Russia, and South Asiah—including Iran, Afghanistan, Chechnya, and possibly India and Pakistan—suggests that these regions will earn - 5 tinue to be high~risk areas, with irregular suicide bombings occasionally extending to other parts of the globe. But the present understanding of the high costs of suicide terrorism and the growing cooperation among intelligence services world- wide gives credence to the hope that in the future only desperate Organizations of losers will try to use this tactic on a systematic basis. ' 1. What makes suicide bombers tick“? Answer the question using at least two ex~ amples from Sarraj‘s and Sprinzak’s articles. 2. Compare and contrast ancient and modern terrorism. . .-... - snark-"a. d-Hml - flan-m1. 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