240. What Motivates the Suicide Bombers? | YaleGlobal Online Magazine
September 4, 2009 § Leave a comment
The more understanding the better.
The heart-wrenching and horrible daily accounts of suicide bombings rarely reveal the underlying cause of the bombers’ motivations. But a comprehensive database at Australia’s Flinders University that has compiled information on these types of attacks from as early as 1981 can shed light on such motivations. And the conclusions are startling, Professor Riaz Hassan, author of a forthcoming book on suicide bombing, tells us. For one, the conventional wisdom that bombers are insane or religious fanatics is wrong. Individual bombers show no personality disorders and the attacks themselves are often politically motivated, aimed at achieving specific strategic goals such as forcing concessions or generating greater support. Moreover, the motivations are complex: “humiliation, revenge, and altruism” all drive the individual to engage in, and the community to condone, suicide bombing. Indeed, as Hassan notes, participating in suicide bombing can fulfill a range of meanings from the “personal to communal.” Without understanding these motivations and addressing them, it would appear the governments or organizations that seek to end suicide bombings are likely to be disappointed. – YaleGlobal