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Staff Review: Suicide Bombings

Suicide Bombings
Riaz Hassan
Taylor & Francis

In the first chapter, Hassan caught my attention with his discussion of ‘Life as a Weapon’. Life is used as the most basic yet powerful weapon to attack and instill fear in the enemy or society. Suicide is seen as a means to an end and we can see various examples of it throughout history, such as the crucifixion death of Jesus Christ, the martyrs of Cordoba and Japanese ritual suicide to maintain honour and kamikaze operations during WWII where Japanese air force pilots crashed their planes to US naval fleets.

When we see, read and hear news about a suicide bombing, our first thought tends to be the religion of the psychopaths – assuming that religion is the main reason for such a horrible act. This book overthrows many of these assumptions. First of all, suicide bombers were mostly driven by politics, not religion. Religion might start and fuel the conflict at the beginning and have a role in recruiting and motivating the bombers, but it is does not remain the only driving force. Case studies show that suicide bombing was used as a weapon for political reasons, homeland liberation, or the last resort after failed non-violent protests. It was a way of saying ‘We may be materially weak but we are powerful because we do not fear death’. Next, it contends that suicide bombers are not mad. On the contrary, they are psychologically normal, deeply integrated into social networks and are emotionally attached to their national communities. Recruitment into terrorist groups is highly selective. People with psychopathic traits might compromise their missions and would only be liabilities to the group.

Part of the Shortcuts series, this little book gives us thorough research and analysis to contribute to ongoing discussion about the incidence and motivations of suicide bombings.

Find the book here, and buy at your local bookshop.

Amanda Djojonegoro

Staff Bio 

Amanda Djojonegoro
Product & Marketing Coordinator

I love to read books so I can go to places I’ve never been and meet people I’d never meet!

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