The Element Of Suicide In Terrorism Criminology Essay

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There has been widespread debate amongst commentators, that terrorism has evolved somewhat in recent years, pointing to key elements, which characterise a development in terrorism. There seems to be consensus that 'new terrorism', "represents a very different and potentially far more lethal threat than the more familiar 'traditional' terrorist groups" (1998,200). The official definition of 'terrorism' is the, "unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property, to intimidate or coerce a government, or the civilian population" (Terrorism Research Centre website). The term 'new' is defined as, "produced, introduced, or discovered recently or now for the first time; not existing before"(oxford dictionary website). Therefore, the concept of 'new terrorism', is a form of action which had 'not existed before'/ or a form of action recently 'introduced'. Upon answering this question, I will sought to give a coherent analysis of the concept of 'old terrorism'. I shall then endeavour to look at the notion of suicide within 'new terrorism', and characterise the way this technique differs from old forms of terrorism. The essay will then explain the key motivations for organisations using suicide attacks, and sought to characterise the inextricable link between suicide terrorism and religion.

The genesis of terrorism can be located in the Middle East during the 1st century, by the Zealot sect. They were one of four sects, founded by Judas of Galilee and Zadok the Pharisee in the year 6 against Quirinius' tax reform. They were one of the first groups in history to practise what is now known as 'systematic terrorism'. Flavius Josphus published his account on the Zealots in 93-94 C.E., often using the term 'sicarius'- dagger man to characterise them, as in 66B.C.E. they assassinated a number of key political and religious figures, using daggers to slit their throats. There reason for using terrorist tactics, was due to the hostility and tension between the Jews and the Roman authorities.

Terrorism was seen to be a characteristic of the anti-colonial struggles. Wilkinson (1992), asserted that anti colonial groups, were deemed as terrorist groups. Nelson Mandela, was previously seen as a terrorist. As leader of the African National Party, he was an influential individual striving for the end of South African apartheid. However, in 1962, Mandela was arrested and was charged for crimes equivalent to treason and of a number of capital crimes of sabotage, consequently imprisoned for 27 years. What was distinguished as a terrorist organisation historically, has been seen to have evolved from anti colonial period. The 1990's witnessed newer forms of terrorism with Hezbollah. In 1993, one of the first suicide bombings occurred in Beirut, Lebanon, during the Lebanese Civil War. Two truck bombs struck army complexes housing US and French military forces, killing 299 American and French servicemen. The attacks were thought to have been organised by Hezbollah and it success led to further suicide terrorist attacks by Hamas and the LTTE. Hamas is a suicide terrorist organisation located in Palestine. Their aims are for the liberation of Palestine and for the establishment of an all Islamic state. During the second intifada, Hamas carried out its first suicide attack in a city called Afula (1994). The attacks were due to the PLO agreeing a prospective deal with the Israeli government known as the 'Oslo Accords', and the signing would have scampered the aims of Hamas. There were also a series of attacks that followed, such as in Tel- Aviv, the Nezarim Junction and Dizzengoff shopping center.

Suicide tactics were also adopted by the Tamil Tigers in the 1980's. Their aim was to create an independent state which would be located in the north and east region of Sri Lanka. Their struggle was due to the discriminatory legislation , which consequently gave preference to the Sinhalese sect. The Tamil Tigers leader Prabhakaran, was highly influenced by the Hezbollah suicide attacks in Lebanon, and resolutely held to the belief, that if the LTTE never reviewed and amended their tactics, they would never achieve their ends of their campaign during his lifetime. He quoted, "if we conduct Black Tiger (suicide) operations, we can shorten the suffering of the people and achieve Tamil Eelam in a shorter period of time"(1998,141). His views were demonstrated in practise with vehicular suicide bombings and suicide vest bombings. Upon examining accounts of both terrorist organisations, it is clear upon unreasonable doubt that the suicide attacks of both groups were very monotonous, in that they were very localised in their location. This issue debate will commented further within the text.

Acknowledgement should be made that there have been competing views over new terrorism's conception. Spencer (2006) argued it was introduced in the 1990's, pointing to the 1993 attempted bombings of the World Trade Centre in New York and the 1995 Tokyo underground, sarin nerve gas attack. However, an overwhelming amount of theorists would assert the view that the 9/11 attacks was a watershed moment concerning terrorism. Not only do they touch on the attacks themselves, but the aftermath of the attacks, which resulted in the new terrorism. Hoffman argued that the new form terrorism, "represents a very different and potentially far more lethal threat than the more familiar 'traditional' terrorist groups" (1998, 200). Cronin commented further that the events of 9/11, demonstrated the "potential connection to increasingly available new technologies". Although weapons of mass destruction were not used, the damage was phenomenal and the thought of it happening again "could be unprecedentedly dangerous" (2009,199).

There is consensus amongst thinkers that suicide terrorism is a developed phenomena, due to is global expansion, with examples such as, the Beslan school conflict 2004 and the Moscow Metro bombings 2010, 9/11 US attacks and the London bombings on the 7th July 2005. Wilkinson demonstrated that the events of 9/11 characterised the concept of 'new terrorism, as the techniques adopted, showed beyond comprehension, the terrorists determination to exploit the gradual increase in intercontinental flight connections, and the some what poor customs and immigration control in many countries to move around the world. Whilst on a global scale, terrorist organisations inflicted as much damage on the targets chosen. However, the aim of 'old terrorism was not based upon indiscriminate loss of life, as to "preserve their eligilibility for a place at the bargaining table and, ultimately, a role in successor governments." (2000,66).

Hoffman gives a number of reasons why the suicide terrorism has been used within 'new terrorism' and hence being of importance for terrorist organisations. It should be stated that the use of suicide terrorism is a rational and calculated form of attack. Hassan's research showed that none of the bombers she had interviewed, had suicidal personality traits and, "[n]one of them were uneducated, desperately poor, simple minded or depressed" (The New Yorker website). She concluded, using suicide operations were attractive, as not only are they shocking, deadly and cost effective, but only require two criteria points, a willingness to kill and a willingness to die. Further, the use of suicide in the 9/11 attacks showed how essential this technique was to the success of the mission. Al Qaeda never needed sophisticated technology, but the complete ease of using a plane and creating it into a human suicide missile. The cost of the operation was very cheap compared to the damage created, with Al Qaeda spending $400,000- $500,000. However aftermath of the attacks resulted in the US economy losing about $500 million.

Its globalised justification can be detected in the inherent and resolute belief in Islam, as it has been a stronghold for these organisations, as it allows them to justify the attacks. In particular, an overwhelming number of researchers highlight the prominence of radical Islam and its intimate correlation to suicide terrorism (Juergensmeyer, 2000). Observing the rise of religion within new terrorism from a quantitative perspective, Gurr and Cole (2000), comment that in 1980's, only 2 out of 64 international terrorist organisations could be classified as religious. However, by 1995, this figure had risen to 25 out of 58. It should be denoted that the Quran refutes the notion of suicide, however accepts martyrdom. Hoffman, commented that, "[f]or the religious terrorist, violence is a divine duty"… "and justified by scripture" 1998,20). Islamic terrorist groups give justification to martyrdom, which is an act of sacrificing ones self and altruism, which is highly revered by Allah. Cronin (2003), wrote about suicide terrorism being justified by Islam and pointed out that religious terrorists perceive the battle as good versus evil. Consequently, they dehumanise their victims and consider outsiders of their group to be traitors. Indiscriminate violence is not only justified to be morally acceptable, but also deemed to be righteous and imperative in trying to advance their religious cause. Contrasting the modus operandi of 'old terrorism', which tended to strike certain selected targets, 'new' terrorism has become indiscriminate, trying to produce as many casualties as possible (2003,9). The main way Al Qaeda has demonstrated to characterise suicide terrorism as a global ideal, was in 1996 and 1998, when a fatwa was made, for all Muslims to engage in a worldwide violent struggle, in order to defend the sanctity of Islam. Bin Laden emphasised Muslims to join the battle, especially against the United States and their allies, stating that their must be indiscriminate killings. The role of religion was further seen a week prior to 9/11, when the leader of the operation, Mohamed Atta, wrote a letter to all the members taking part, to be "happy, optimistic and calm"… "because you are heading for the deed that God loves and will accept" (1998, 135). Hoffman denotes that the suicide bomber usually smiles prior to committing martyrdom.The smile is known in Arabic as the 'bassamat al- Farah', meaning the 'smile of joy', joy being the happiness of martyrdom. J. Cole and B. Cole interviewed a Muslim cleric on martyrdom. He commented that, "when the love of the world sets in the heart of Muslims"… "when we love our luxury"…."how can any Muslim hope to meet Allah in a good way?"… " if there's a love of life"…"inevitably lead to the dislike of death" (2009, 259). Therefore, dying has to be enjoyed so that one could go and meet Allah. Suicide can therefore be deemed to be important within the notion of new terrorism, as it gels in as a perfect method for the fatwa given by Bin Laden. Further, the use of martyrdom on a global scale would be accepted and highly appreciated and justifiable by Allah and Islam doctrine.

Secondly, using suicide, tends to conduce a psychological impact upon the country targeted, which was again seen in the 9/11 attacks. There was a sense that the American people were in a vulnerable position, with America as a superpower coming under threat. Al Qaeda aimed to build upon this, and the chief spokesman said, "[t]he Americans must know that the storm of airplanes will not stop"… "there are thousands of young people who are as keen about death as Americans are about life" (1998, 138). The 'risk society' is another concept which was seen to have been conceived from the psychological aftermath of the new terrorism. Denney (2005), described that the aftermath of these attacks brought about a state of insecurity within the west. Furthermore, as the US was seen as a dominant superpower, who had a domineering sphere of influence globally, for it to come under attack, showed that other countries were vulnerable to terrorist attacks. He further asserted, " [t]he events of 11 September were even more dramatic since they exposed the fragility of the intelligence services designed to protect a world superpower" (2005, 136). Beck spoke about the way in which the transition from traditional to post modern society, resulted in a gradual change in the notion of risk, to the point in which we are now afraid of risks. He quotes, "[t]he driving force in the risk society can be summarised in the phrase 'I am afraid!" (1992: 49). One of the fears resulting from being a victim of a suicide attack is 'death'. Bauman comments that society see's death as a something to fear about, as we as individuals know the outcome of each event, however, we do not know about death. This uncertainty in which death is wrapped in, conduces a fear in individuals. He quotes, "[d]eath is the 'unknown' incarnate, and among all other unknowns, it is the only one fully and truly unknowable" (2000, 30).

Another concept in which Baumann touched on was the 'mask and the wolf'. This ties in with the risk society theory and one of the resultant effects of it. In his book, 'Postmodern ethics', he argues that there are those with 'masks', who hide their real faces, whilst showing society a façade. Bauman quotes, "masks are not as reliable as faces, as they may be put on and off, they hid as much as they reveal" (1993, 115). This further coincides with society being characterised by fear and anxiety, fear and uncertainty. Society have no other option, but to live with this anxiety and fear. Bauman argues, " Homo homini is one of the most steadfast maxims… In each of our neighbours we fear a wolf. This fellow is evil-minded, if he is not restrained by the law he will ruin us" (1993,115). Though written before the eve of 'new terrorism' it draw parallels to how 'new terrorism' has developed. It subsequently demonstrates that terrorists now live within our communities and wear a 'mask', in which they can hide their real motives, and are a 'wolf' with evil and motives. We constantly suffer from anxiety and fear, as we are unaware of who these people may be. Bauman(2000) also describes in another analogy that we are able to distinguish what a 'wolf' is, however we are unable to distinguish who a suicide bomber is.

Moreover, the element of suicide can be asserted to be important within new terrorism, as the techniques used to commit the attacks can vary. Examples being the use of aircraft, , the use of vehicular bombs, and detonating bombs on the vehicle, the use of pedestrians- by wearing suicide vests containing explosives. Suicide terrorism is a variation of other forms of terrorism, as the terrorist is now the "the ultimate smart bomb." (1998,132), and can choose a specific target to detonate the bomb. Hoffman points out 3 places in particular that may be a target, being is symbolic targets, the targeting of influential person/people and the targeting of the public transport system and its infrastructure. Secondly, the construction of a suicide vest is very inexpensive to construct. Although, the total cost amounts to approximately $150, it brings attractive returns. Compared to other forms of attacks, it kills about 4 or 5 times as many people. Moreover, it brings expediential increases in casualties, in comparison to other terrorist techniques. Lastly, the use of suicide in 'new terrorism' is very important, as it results in no escape plan being needed, upon successfully completing the mission, the bomber wouldn't get caught and arrested.

Pape in his article 'Dying to win', gives an analysis on why terrorist organisations would adopt the modus operandi of suicide. He argued that there is a 'coercer', which is usually the state, and a 'target', which could be another state or in this case a terrorist group. The aim of the 'coercer' is to inflict punishment on the 'target'. Therefore, terrorists retaliating by using suicide attacks, draw parallels to the "coercive logic used by states when they employ or economic sanctions to punish and adversary" (2005,4). Moreover, adopting suicide tactics, the bomber is able to instigate carnage on an unprecedented level, in comparison with other tactics. Pape also highlights the views of Hoffman (1998), that once the mission has been completed, there is no need for the bomber to escape, and therefore wouldn't fear arrest or interrogation. Therefore, it seems incontrovertible without hesitation, that the use of suicide is important within new forms of terrorism, as the terrorist group is able to retaliate against the 'coercer' with tactics that would result in huge damage. Examples of this being the September 11th attacks on the World trade centre and the 7th July bombings in London, on the transport infrastructure. He went further, to describe the 'art of martyrdom' (Schalk,1997), arguing that the use of suicide gave a warning that more attacks would be imminent. The more suicide bombers justified their attacks in conjunction with religion and martyrdom ,they would be respected more, resultantly leading to widespread support. An example of this can be demonstrated in the way that Hamas has 52% of Palestinians are supporters. On further inspection of Pape's research, the importance of suicide within terrorism is made clear, as it raptures popular support, leading to more individuals joining terrorist groups for the same justifications as the martyrs.

Despite Pape's huge empirical success, his analysis is loathed with a number of critiques. In the journal 'a critique of dying to win', it questions the validity of his study. Firstly, his chapter on 'conventional wisdom on suicide terrorism' came under intense scrutiny as Pape cited work by Merrari (1990) who has since changed his stance, now believing that suicide terrorism is highly individualistic, but also organised. Nevertheless, Pape doesn't highlight this in his research. Secondly, Pape's work has brought debate due to linking suicide terrorism with the LTTE. Critique's argue that suicide terrorism, is believed to be committed when it is against non combatants. However, Pape's database shows LTTE attacks against military targets. Cook argues, that as it is not attacks against non combatants, LTTE attacks should be referred to as 'insurgency or military warfare'.

New terrorism has been made more 'delicious', with the introduction of female suicide bombers. Zedalis (2004), found that females add an interesting twist to the notion of suicide. Prior, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, of Hamas, wholly refuted females being suicide bombers, however, in 2004, a female suicide bomber in Al-Aqsa Intifada, struck on Jaffa Street, Israel. From this point onwards, Yassin's view changed on female suicide bombers perceiving them as a "significant evolution in our fight. The male fighters face obstacles"… "women are like the reserve army, when there is a necessity, we use them" (2004,15). The use of women, provides them a tactical advantage, than just using men. Further, it instils an element of surprise to the target, as women are not affiliated with being violent, and has "exploded all the myths about women's weakness, submissiveness and enslavement" (2004,15). The work of Zedalis draw parallels with Baumann, through the 'mask and the wolf' analogy, visualising our fear, that these individuals live within our community and have a 'mask' that gives us a different image of what they really are like.

Upon conclusion, it is clear in no uncertain terms that suicide has grown to become an important feature of 'new terrorism'. New terrorism has brought about a feeling of risk and fear, which is now inherent within our community. Commentators accept that terrorist organisations have adopted suicide as their as their modus operandi as it bestows them with a number of advantages. There is overwhelming evidence to show that religion, in particular, Islam now plays a big part in suicide and 'new terrorism' The Quran gives justification for martyrdom, and when intimately linked with the fatwa by Bin Laden, it makes suicide terrorism a phenomena that will be enshrined within society for a long period of time to come. Looking at the work of Bauman, we are able to understand that suicide bombers are within our community, different from before, where bombers from Hamas for example lived in Palestine. However, the global element of terrorism means that suicide bombers could be located anywhere, making 'new terrorism' a global phenomenon.