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A suicide attack is a violent attack in which the attacker intends to kill others or cause great destruction and expects to die in the process. Between 1981 and 2006, 1200 suicide attacks occurred around the world, constituting 4% of all terrorist attacks but 32% (14,599 people) of all terrorism-related deaths. 90% of these attacks occurred in Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Sri Lanka. Its primary use is as a weapon of psychological warfare intended to affect a larger public audience.
Although the use of suicide attacks has been prevalent throughout history, particularly with the Japanese Kamikaze pilots of World War II, suicide attacks gained global notoriety on October 23, 1983. Suicide attackers targeted the United States Marine Corps and French paratrooper barracks in Lebanon in the 1983 Beirut barracks bombings during the Lebanese Civil War. The suicide attack resulted in the death of 299 Multinational Forces (MNF), including 241 United States servicemen and 58 French paratroopers. The success of this attack undoubtedly played a significant role in the attractiveness of suicide attacks to terrorist and insurgency organizations worldwide. More recently, the number of suicide attacks has grown significantly, from an average of less than five a year in the 1980s to 180 a year in 2001-2005, primarily due to bombings in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion.
The motivation of suicide attackers is disputed. Robert Pape attributes over 90% of attacks prior to the Iraq Civil War to a goal of withdrawal of occupying forces. Anthropologist Scott Atran argues that since 2004 the overwhelming majority of bombers have been motivated by the ideology of Islamist martyrdom, and these attacks have been much more numerous. In just two years, 2004–2005, there were more suicide attacks, "roughly 600, than in Pape's entire sample."
- 1 Definitions
- 2 History
- 3 Tactics
- 4 Weapons and methods
- 5 Female suicide bombers
- 6 Profile of attackers
- 7 Other views
- 8 Case studies
- 9 Response
- 10 See also
- 11 Bibliography
- 12 Further reading
- 13 References
- 14 External links
Definitions of terrorism
Suicide terrorism is a problematic term to define. There is an ongoing debate on definitions of terrorism itself. Kofi Annan, as Secretary General of the UN, defined terrorism in March 2005 in the General Assembly as any action "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants" for the purpose of intimidation. This definition would distinguish suicide terrorism from suicide bombing in that suicide bombing does not necessarily target non-combatants, and is not widely accepted. Jason Burke, a journalist who has lived among Islamic militants himself, suggests that most define terrorism as 'the use or threat of serious violence' to advance some kind of 'cause', and stresses that terrorism is a tactic. Burke leaves the target of such actions out of the definition, but is clear in calling suicide bombings 'abhorrent'.
F. Halliday[who?] has written that assigning the descriptor of 'terrorist' or 'terrorism' to the actions of a group is a tactic used by states to deny 'legitimacy' and 'rights to protest and rebel', although similar to Burke does not define terrorism in terms of the militance of the victim as did Kofi Annan. His preferred approach is to focus on the specific aspects within terrorism that we can study without using the concept itself, laden as it is with 'such distortion and myth'. This means focusing on the specific components of 'terror' and 'political violence' within terrorism.
With awareness of that debate in mind, suicide terrorism itself has been defined by Ami Pedahzur as "A diversity of violent actions perpetrated by people who are aware that the odds they will return alive are close to zero." This includes suicide/homicide bombings and other tactics listed below.
Usage of the term "suicide bombing"
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The usage of the term "suicide bombing" dates back to at least 1940. A New York Times article (August 10, 1940) mentions the term in relation to German tactics. A 4 March 1942 article refers to a Japanese attempt as a "suicide bombing" on an American carrier. The Times of London, on April 15, 1947 (page 2), referred to a new pilot-less, radio-controlled rocket missile thus: "Designed originally as a counter-measure to the Japanese 'suicide-bomber,' it is now a potent weapon for defence or offence". The quotes are in the original and suggest that the phrase was an existing one. An earlier article (August 21, 1945, page 6) refers to a kamikaze plane as a "suicide-bomb". Even earlier, though not using the exact phrase, the magazine Modern Mechanix (February 1936) reports the Italians reacted to a possible oil embargo by stating that they would carry out attacks with "a squadron of aviators pledged to crash their death-laden planes in suicidal dives directly onto the decks of British ships".
To assign either a more positive or negative connotation to the act, suicide bombing is sometimes referred to by different terms. Islamists often call the act a isshtahad (meaning martyrdom operation), and the suicide bomber a shahid (pl. shuhada, literally 'witness' and usually translated as 'martyr'). The term denotes one who died in order to testify his faith in God, for example those who die while waging jihad bis saif; it is applied to suicide bombers, by the Palestinian Authority among others, in part to overcome Islamic strictures against suicide. This term has been embraced by Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah and other Palestinian factions engaging in suicide bombings.
Some efforts have been made to replace the term suicide bombing with homicide bombing. The first such use was by White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer in April 2002. However, it has failed to catch on; the only major media outlets to use it were Fox News Channel and the New York Post (both owned by News Corporation).
Supporters of the term homicide bombing argue that since the primary purpose of such a bombing is to kill other people rather than merely to end one's own life, the term homicide is a more accurate description than suicide. However, any bombing intended to cause human deaths can be classified as a homicide bombing. Therefore, some have argued that homicide bombing is a less useful term, since it fails to capture the distinctive feature of suicide bombings: namely, the bombers' use of means which they are aware will inevitably bring about their own deaths.
Another attempted replacement is genocide bombing. The term was coined in 2002 by a Jewish member of the Canadian parliament, Irwin Cotler, in an effort to replace the term homicide bomber as a substitute for "suicide bomber". The intention was to focus attention on the alleged intention of genocide by militant Palestinians in their calls to "Wipe Israel off the map."
In the German-speaking area the term sacrifice bombing (Ger. Opferanschlag) was proposed in 2012 by German scholar Arata Takeda. The term has the merit of pointing out the fact that the scandal of such bombing lies in the abuse of humans as weapons by the commanding apparatuses rather than in the suicide of the perpetrators.
Moro Muslims who performed suicide attacks were called mag-sabil, and the suicide attacks were known as Parang-sabil. The Spanish called them juramentado. The idea of the juramentado was considered part of jihad in the Moros' Islamic religion. During an attack, a Juramentado would throw himself at his targets and kill them with bladed weapons such as barongs and kris until he himself was killed. The Moros performed juramentado suicide attacks against the Spanish in the Spanish–Moro conflict of the 16th to the 19th centuries, against the Americans in the Moro Rebellion (1899–1913), and against the Japanese in World War II.
The Moro Juramentados aimed their attacks specifically against their enemies, and not against non-Muslims in general. They launched suicide attacks on the Japanese, Spanish, Americans and Filipinos, but did not attack the non-Muslim Chinese as the Chinese were not considered enemies of the Moro people. The Japanese responded to these suicide attacks by massacring all known family members and relatives of the attacker(s).
Suicide bombing in Russia
Some sources regard the assassination of Tsar Alexander II of Russia in 1881 as the work of suicide bombers. A would-be suicide-bomber killed Vyacheslav von Plehve, the Russian Minister of the Interior, in St Petersburg in 1904.
Chinese suicide squads
During the Xinhai Revolution and the Warlord Era of the Republic of China (1912–1949), "Dare to Die Corps" (traditional Chinese: 敢死隊; simplified Chinese: 敢死队; pinyin: gǎnsǐduì) or "Suicide squads" were frequently used by Chinese armies. China deployed these suicide units against the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War.
In the Xinhai Revolution, many Chinese revolutionaries became martyrs in battle. "Dare to Die" student corps were founded, for student revolutionaries wanting to fight against Qing dynasty rule. Dr. Sun Yatsen and Huang Xing promoted the Dare to Die corps. Huang said, "We must die, so let us die bravely. Suicide squads were formed by Chinese students going into battle, knowing that they would be killed fighting against overwhelming odds.
The 72 Martyrs of Huanghuagang died in the uprising that began the Wuchang Uprising, and were recognized as heroes and martyrs by the Kuomintang party and the Republic of China. The martyrs in the Dare to Die Corps who died in battle wrote letters to family members before heading off to certain death. The Huanghuakang was built as a monument to the 72 martyrs. The deaths of the revolutionaries helped the establishment of the Republic of China, overthrowing the Qing dynasty imperial system. Other Dare to Die student corps in the Xinhai revolution were led by students who later became major military leaders in Republic of China, like Chiang Kaishek, and Huang Shaoxiong with the Muslim Bai Chongxi against Qing dynasty forces.
"Dare to Die" troops were used by warlords in their armies to conduct suicide attacks. "Dare to Die" corps continued to be used in the Chinese military. The Kuomintang used one to put down an insurrection in Canton. Many women joined them in addition to men to achieve martyrdom against China's opponents.
Suicide bombing was also used against the Japanese. A Chinese soldier detonated a grenade vest and killed 20 Japanese soldiers at Sihang Warehouse. Chinese troops strapped explosives like grenade packs or dynamite to their bodies and threw themselves under Japanese tanks to blow them up. This tactic was used during the Battle of Shanghai, where a Chinese suicide bomber stopped a Japanese tank column by exploding himself beneath the lead tank, and at the Battle of Taierzhuang where dynamite and grenades were strapped on by Chinese troops who rushed at Japanese tanks and blew themselves up.
Coolies against the Communist takeover formed "Dare to Die Corps" to fight for their organizations, with their lives. During the Tianamen Square Incident of 1989, protesting students also formed "Dare to Die Corps", to risk their lives defending the protest leaders.
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The tactics of the Kamikaze, a ritual act of self-sacrifice by state military forces, occurred during combat in a large scale at the end of World War II. These suicide attacks, carried out by Japanese kamikaze bombers, were used as a military tactic aimed at causing material damage in the war. In the Pacific Allied ships were attacked by kamikaze pilots who caused significant damage by flying their explosive-laden aircraft into military targets.
In these attacks, airplanes were used as flying bombs. Later in the war, as Japan became more desperate, this act became formalized and ritualized, as planes were outfitted with explosives specific to the task of a suicide mission. Kamikaze strikes were a weapon of asymmetric war used by the Empire of Japan against United States Navy and Royal Navy aircraft carriers, although the armoured flight deck of the Royal Navy carriers diminished Kamikaze effectiveness. The Japanese Navy also used piloted torpedoes called kaiten ("Heaven shaker") on suicide missions. Although sometimes called midget submarines, these were modified versions of the unmanned torpedoes of the time and are distinct from the torpedo-firing midget submarines used earlier in the war, which were designed to infiltrate shore defenses and return to a mother ship after firing their torpedoes. Although extremely hazardous, these midget submarine attacks were not technically suicide missions, as the earlier midget submarines had escape hatches. Kaitens, however, provided no means of escape.
American tanks at Seoul were attacked by North Korean suicide squads, who used satchel charges. A North Korean soldier who exploded an American tank with a suicide bomb named Li Su-Bok is hailed as a hero in North Korean propaganda.
Middle Ages through Modern Times
To counter the superior numbers of the Chola dynasty empire's army in the 11th century, suicide squads were raised by the Indian Chera rulers. This helped the Cheras to resist Chola invasion and maintain the independence of their kingdom from the time of Kulothunga Chola I. These warriors were known as the "chavers". Later, these suicide squads rendered service as police, volunteer troop and fighting squads in the region. Now their primary duty was to assist local rulers in battles and skirmishes. The rulers of the state of Valluvanad are known to have deployed a number of suicide squads against the ruler of Calicut.
In the late 17th century, Qing official Yu Yonghe recorded that injured Dutch soldiers fighting against Koxinga's forces for control of Taiwan in 1661 would use gunpowder to blow up both themselves and their opponents rather than be taken prisoner. However, the Chinese observer may have confused such suicidal tactics with the standard Dutch military practice of undermining and blowing up positions recently overrun by the enemy which almost cost Koxinga his life during the Siege of Fort Zeelandia.
Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff intended to assassinate Adolf Hitler by suicide bomb in 1943, but was unable to complete the attack. During the Battle for Berlin the Luftwaffe flew Selbstopfereinsatz ("self-sacrifice missions") against Soviet bridges over the Oder River. These missions were flown by pilots of the Leonidas Squadron under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Heiner Lange. From April 17-20, 1945, using any available aircraft the Luftwaffe claimed that the squadron destroyed 17 bridges. However, military historian Antony Beevor when writing about the incident thinks that this was exaggerated and that only the railway bridge at Küstrin was definitely destroyed. He comments that "thirty-five pilots and aircraft was a high price to pay for such a limited and temporary success". The missions were called off when the Soviet ground forces reached the vicinity of the squadron's airbase at Jüterbog.
Al-Qaeda carried out its first suicide attack in the mid-1990s. The number of attacks using suicide tactics has grown from an average of fewer than five per year during the 1980s to 180 per year between 2000 and 2005, and from 81 suicide attacks in 2001 to 460 in 2005. These attacks have been aimed at diverse military and civilian targets, including in Sri Lanka, in Israel since July 6, 1989, in Iraq since the US-led invasion of that country in 2003, in Pakistan since 2001 and in Afghanistan since 2005 and in Somalia since 2006.
In Israel, Gaza and the West Bank, suicide bombings have generally been perpetrated by Islamist and occasionally by secular Palestinian groups including the PFLP. In 1993, Hamas carried out the first suicide attack. Between October 2000 and October 2006, there were 167 clearly identified suicide bomber attacks, with 51 other types of suicide attack. It has been suggested that there were so many volunteers for the "Istishhadia" in the Second Intifada in Israel and the occupied territories, that recruiters and dispatchers had a 'larger pool of candidates' than ever before.
In the decade following the 9/11 attacks, there were 336 suicide attacks in Afghanistan and 303 in Pakistan, while there were 1,003 documented suicide attacks in Iraq between 20 March 2003 and 31 December 2010. Suicide bombings have become a tactic in Chechnya, first being used in the conflict in 2000 in Alkhan Kala. A number of suicide attacks have also occurred in Russia as a result of the Chechen conflict, notably including the Moscow theater hostage crisis in 2002 to the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004.
There have also been suicide attacks in Western Europe and the United States. The September 11 attacks killed 2,977 people — 2,507 civilians, 72 law enforcement officers, 343 firefighters, and 55 military personnel — in Manhattan, Washington D.C., and Shanksville, Pennsylvania in 2001. An attack in London on July 7, 2005 killed 52 people.
According to Sudanese writer Mansour Al-Hadj, Sudanese jihadists were trained to attack enemy tanks by suicide bombing them.
Weapons and methods
- On foot: explosive belt, satchel charge: many, including the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi
- With a plane as target: Richard Reid on American Airlines Flight 63
- With explosives hidden inside the body: 2009 attack on a Saudi prince, Muhammad bin Nayef
- By Car bomb: 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, Sri Lankan Central Bank bombing, numerous incidents in Iraq since 2003
- By a boat with explosives: USS Cole bombing attacks in Aden, Yemen by Al-Qaeda; SLNS Sagarawardena sinking in Sri Lanka by Tamil Tigers.
- By a submarine with explosives (human-steered torpedo): Kaiten, used by Japan in World War II
- By a bicycle with explosives: Assassination of Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)
- By a hijacked commercial jet airliner with fuel: September 11 attacks, possibly Air France Flight 8969 and attempted by Samuel Byck
- By private plane: 2010 Austin plane crash
- By diverting a bus to an abyss: Tel Aviv Jerusalem bus 405 attack
- By a car by using a fast driving car to drive intentionally into a crowd of people or breaching a security barrier: 2009 attack on the Dutch royal family
Female suicide bombers
According to a report issued by intelligence analysts in the U.S. army in 2011, "Although women make up roughly 15% of the suicide bombers within groups which utilize females, they were responsible for 65% of assassinations; 20% of women who committed a suicide attack did so with the purpose of assassinating a specific individual, compared with 4% of male attackers." The report further stated that female suicide bombers often were "grieving the loss of family members [and] seeking revenge against those they feel are responsible for the loss, unable to produce children, [and/or] dishonored through sexual indiscretion." Female suicide bombers are thus presented as being predominantly motivated by non-political factors, as opposed to their male counterparts.
Female bombers have a tendency to be in their late twenties and significantly older than their male terrorists. In terrorist organizations war and counter terrorism are enthusiastically promoted towards women as a means of women’s liberation. These women have been proven as a more lethal and effective weapon of destruction as they are able to use their feminine features to camouflage the explosives. They use the ability to produce to hide the bombs disguised as their pregnant belly which also make them look more vulnerable as a woman in this state. Women participating in these events do not bring on any suspicion in crowded areas as they are appearing a harmless mother to be and perhaps fragile and weak. These walking bombs avoid invasive searches, that are seen as taboo as it threatens the woman’s honor, in these areas and often not realized until it is too late to avoid the explosion. These women have proven to be more deadly with higher success rates with more casualties and deaths than their male counterparts. These bombers are often seen as stumbling or calling out in distress to get more people to crowd around her to provide assistance when the explosives are set off. It is interesting to point out that although these women are permitted to participate they are not permitted to hold the detonator, this is still held by the men in charge.
The media portrayal of female and male bombers has been significantly different until only recently when women became more commonly reported filling role of suicide bomber. These reports were newsworthy because it was see as “unladylike” and their actions are outside of the traditional female roles. Female suicide bombers have been observed in many predominantly nationalist conflicts by a variety of organizations against both military and civilian targets:
- In Lebanon on April 9, 1985, Sana'a Mehaidli, a member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), detonated an explosive-laden vehicle, which killed two Israeli soldiers and injured two more. During the Lebanese Civil War, female SSNP members bombed Israeli troops and the Israeli proxy militia the South Lebanon Army.
- On May 21, 1991, former Indian Prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by Thenmozhi Rajaratnam, a member of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam. Between 30 and 40% of the organization's suicide bombings were carried out by women.
- The Chechen shahidkas have attacked Russian troops in Chechnya and Russian civilians elsewhere; for example, in the Moscow theater hostage crisis.
- Women of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) have carried out suicide bombings primarily against Turkish Armed Forces, in some cases strapping explosives to their abdomen in order to simulate pregnancy.:66
- Wafa Idris, under Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, became the first Palestinian female suicide bomber on January 28, 2002 when she blew herself up on Jaffa Road in Central Jerusalem.:221
- On February 27, 2002, Darine Abu Aisha carried out a suicide bombing at the Maccabim checkpoint of the Israeli army near Jerusalem. On the same day, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the religious leader of the Palestinian Islamist militant group Hamas, issued a fatwa, or religious rule, that gave women permission to participate in suicide attacks, and stated that they would be rewarded in the afterlife.:315
- Ayat al-Akhras, the third and youngest Palestinian female suicide bomber (at age 18), killed herself and two Israeli civilians on March 29, 2002 by detonating explosives belted to her body in a supermarket. She had been trained by the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a group linked to the armed branch of Fatah (Yasser Arafat's party), more secular than Hamas. The killings gained widespread international attention due to Ayat's age and gender and the fact that one of the victims was also a teenage girl.
- Hamas deployed its first female suicide bomber, Reem Riyashi, on January 14, 2004. Al-Riyashi attacked Erez checkpoint, killing 7 people.:171
- Two female attackers attacked U.S. troops in Iraq on August 5, 2003. Whereas female suicide bombers are not typically introduced in initial stages of a conflict, this attack demonstrates the early and significant involvement of Iraqi women in the Iraq War.:284
- On 29 March 2010, two female Chechen terrorists bombed two Moscow subway stations killing at least 38 people and injuring more than 60 people.
- The Taliban has used at least one female suicide bomber in Afghanistan.
- On December 25, 2010, the first female suicide bomber in Pakistan detonated her explosives-laden vest, killing at least 43 people at an aid distribution center in northwestern Pakistan.
- On December 29, 2013, a female Chechen suicide bomber detonated her vest in the Volgograd railway station killing at least 17 people.
Profile of attackers
Studies have shown conflicting results about what defines a suicide attacker. Criminal Justice professor Adam Lankford recently identified more than 130 individual suicide terrorists, including 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta, with classic suicidal risk factors, such as depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, other mental health problems, drug addictions, serious physical injuries or disabilities, or having suffered the unexpected death of a loved one or from other personal crises. These findings have been further supported by psychologist Ariel Merari, whose interviews and assessments of suicide bombers, regular terrorists, and terrorist recruiters found that only members of the first group showed major risk factors for conventional suicide.
Robert Pape, director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, found the majority of suicide bombers came from the educated middle classes. A study of the remains of 110 suicide bombers for the first part of 2007 by Afghan pathologist Dr. Yusef Yadgari, found 80% were missing limbs before the blasts, other suffered from cancer, leprosy, or some other ailments. Also in contrast to earlier findings of suicide bombers, the Afghan bombers were "not celebrated like their counterparts in other Arab nations. Afghan bombers are not featured on posters or in videos as martyrs."
Anthropologist Scott Atran's research has found an extremely sharp increase in suicide attacks. Atran says that the attacks are not organized from the top down, but occurs from the bottom up. That is, it is usually a matter of following one's friends, and ending up in environments that foster groupthink. Atran is also critical of the claim that terrorists simply crave destruction; they are often motivated by beliefs they hold sacred, as well as their own moral reasoning.
A recently published paper by Harvard University Professor of Public Policy Alberto Abadie "cast[s] doubt on the widely held belief that terrorism stems from poverty, finding instead that terrorist violence is related to a nation's level of political freedom." More specifically this is due to the transition of countries towards democratic freedoms. "Intermediate levels of political freedom are often experienced during times of political transitions, when governments are weak, political instability is elevated, so conditions are favorable for the appearance of terrorism".
A study by German scholar Arata Takeda analyzes analogous behavior represented in literary texts from the antiquity through the 20th century (Sophocles' s Ajax, Milton's Samson Agonistes, Friedrich Schiller's The Robbers, Albert Camus's The Just Assassins) and comes to the conclusion "that suicide bombings are not the expressions of specific cultural peculiarities or exclusively religious fanaticisms. Instead, they represent a strategic option of the desperately weak who strategically disguise themselves under the mask of apparent strength, terror, and invincibility."
Many suicide bombers have college or university experience, and come from middle class homes. Humam Balawi, who perpetrated the Camp Chapman attack in Afghanistan in 2010, was a medical doctor. They are most often young adult men.
Robert Pape's studies have found that suicide attacks are most often provoked by political occupation. Pape found the targeted countries were ones where the government was democratic and public opinion played a role in determining policy. Other characteristics Pape found included a difference in religion between the attackers and occupiers, and that there was grassroots support for the attacks. Attackers were disproportionately from the educated middle classes. Characteristics which Pape thought to be correlated to suicide bombing and bombers included: brutality and cruelty of the occupiers, and competition among militant groups.
Other researchers contend that Pape's analysis is fundamentally flawed, particularly his contention that democracies are the main targets of such attacks. Atran found that non-Islamic groups have carried out very few bombings since 2003, while bombing by Muslim or Islamist groups associated with a "global ideology" of "martyrdom" has skyrocketed. In one year, in one Muslim country alone – 2004 in Iraq – there were 400 suicide attacks and 2,000 casualties. Still others[who?] argue that perceived religious rewards in the hereafter are instrumental in encouraging Muslims to commit suicide attacks.
Pape also reported that a fine-grained analysis of the time and location of attacks strongly support his conclusion that "foreign military occupation accounts for 98.5% -- and the deployment of American combat forces for 92% -- of all the 1,833 suicide terrorist attacks around the world" between 2004 and 2009. Moreover, "the success attributed to the surge in 2007 and 2008 was actually less the result of an increase in coalition forces and more to a change of strategy in Baghdad and the empowerment of the Sunnis in Anbar." (emphasis in the original) The same logic can be seen in Afghanistan. In 2004 and early 2005, NATO occupied the north and west, controlled by the Northern Alliance, whom NATO had previously helped fight the Taliban. An enormous spike in suicide terrorism only occurred later in 2005 as NATO moved into the south and east, which had previously supported the Taliban and saw NATO as a foreign occupation threatening local culture and customs.
Suicide operatives are overwhelmingly male in most groups, but among Chechen rebels and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) women form a majority of the attackers. In his book, Dead for Good, Hugh Barlow describes recent suicide attack campaigns as a new development in the long history of martyrdom that he dubs predatory martyrdom. Some individuals who now act alone are inspired by emails, radical books, and new social media.
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All acts of war in Islam are governed by Islamic legal rules of armed warfare or military jihad. These rules are covered in detail in the classical texts of Islamic jurisprudence. Under orthodox Islamic law, jihad is a collective religious obligation on the Muslim community, when the community is endangered or Muslims are subjected to oppression and subjugation. The rules governing such conflicts include not killing women, children or non-combatants, and leaving cultivated or residential areas undamaged. For more than a millennium, these tenets were accepted by Sunnis and Shiites; however, since the 1980s militant Islamists have challenged the traditional Islamic rules of warfare to justify suicide attacks.
Islamist militant organisations (including al-Qaeda, Hamas and Islamic Jihad) argue that suicide operations are justified according to Islamic law, despite what some Muslims claim is Islam's strict prohibition of suicide and murder. The international community considers the use of indiscriminate attacks on civilian populations and the use of human shields as illegal under international law.
Militant Muslim groups that carry out suicide attacks say that they believe their actions fulfill the obligation of jihad against the "oppressor" and that they will be rewarded with paradise; they have found support with some Muslim clerics. Justifications have been given by conservative Iranian Shi'ah cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah Yazdi, "When protecting Islam and the Muslim community depends on martyrdom operations, it not only is allowed, but even is an obligation as many of the Shi'ah great scholars and Maraje', including Ayatullah Safi Golpayegani and Ayatullah Fazel Lankarani, have clearly announced in their fatwas." clerics have supported suicide attacks largely in connection with the Palestinian issue. Prominent Sunni cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi has supported such attacks by Palestinians in perceived defense of their homeland as heroic and an act of resistance. Shiite Lebanese cleric Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah, the spiritual authority recognized by Hezbollah, holds similar views.
Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their wealth for the price of Paradise, to fight in the way of Allah, to kill and get killed. It is a promise binding on the truth in the Torah, the Gospel and the Qur'an.
However, a number of Western and Muslim scholars of Islam have posited that suicide attacks are a clear violation of classical Islamic law and characterized such attacks against civilians as murderous and sinful.
British historian Bernard Lewis wrote that "The emergence of the now widespread terrorism practice of suicide bombing is a development of the 20th century. It has no antecedents in Islamic history, and no justification in terms of Islamic theology, law, or tradition." Respected Muslim scholars have also condemned suicide bombings as terrorism that is prohibited in Islam with the perpetrators being destined to hell. In condemning suicide attacks, Muslim scholar Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri directly targeted the rationale of Islamists by stating, "Violence is violence. It has no place in Islamic teaching, and no justification can be provided to it...good intention cannot justify a wrong and forbidden act".
Other Sunni Muslims have condemned suicide attacks and provided scholastic refutations of suicide bombings. Ihsanic Intelligence, a London-based Islamic think-tank, published their two-year study into suicide bombings in the name of Islam, The Hijacked Caravan, which concluded that,
The technique of suicide bombing is anathema, antithetical and abhorrent to Sunni Islam. It is considered legally forbidden, constituting a reprehensible innovation in the Islamic tradition, morally an enormity of sin combining suicide and murder and theologically an act which has consequences of eternal damnation.
According to a report compiled by the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, 224 of 300 suicide terror attacks from 1980 to 2003 involved Islamist groups or took place in Muslim-majority lands. Another tabulation found a 4.5 fold increase in suicide bombings in the two years following Papes study and that the majority of these bombers were motivated by the ideology of Islamist martyrdom. According to another estimate, as of early 2008, 1,121 Muslim suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq. Recent research on the rationale of suicide bombing has identified both religious and sociopolitical motivations. Those who cite religious factors as an important influence note that religion provides the framework because the bombers believe they are acting in the name of Islam and will be rewarded as martyrs. Since martyrdom is seen as a step towards paradise, those who commit suicide while discarding their community from a common enemy believe that they will reach an ultimate salvation after they die. Leor Halevi, a professor at Vanderbilt University and author of Muhammad's Grave: Death Rites and the Making of Islamic Society, suggests that some suicide bombers are perhaps motivated by an escape from the potential punishment of the tomb that comes with martyrdom.
According to Charles Kimball, chair of the Department of Religion at Wake Forest University, "There is only one verse in the Qur'an that contains a phrase related to suicide", Surah 4 verse 29 of the Quran. It reads:
O you who have believed, do not consume one another's wealth unjustly but only [in lawful] business by mutual consent. And do not kill yourselves. Indeed, Allah is to you ever Merciful.
Some commentators posit that "do not kill yourselves" is better translated "do not kill each other", and some translations (e.g., by M.H. Shakir) reflect that view. Mainstream Islamic groups such as the European Council for Fatwa and Research also cite the Quranic verse Al-Anam 6:151 as prohibiting suicide: "And take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by way of justice and law". The Hadith, including Bukhari 2:445, states: "The Prophet said, '...whoever commits suicide with a piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in the Hell Fire', [and] 'A man was inflicted with wounds and he committed suicide, and so Allah said: 'My slave has caused death on himself hurriedly, so I forbid Paradise for him.'"
Taliban apologists disagree with the notion that suicide attacks are tantamount to simple suicide. The June 2013 issue of the Taliban magazine Azan extolled the virtues of suicide attacks, claiming that "suicide bombing" is a "false term" for jihad martyrdom attacks and cannot be called "suicide according to Islam because… Islam extols the martyrdom operation. So martyrdom operation ≠ Suicide bombing".
The Taliban article cites Quran verse 2:207 in support of suicide bombing: "And amongst mankind is he who sells himself, seeking the pleasure of Allah. And Allah is full of sympathy to (His) slaves", and quotes Ibn Kathir: "The majority of the scholars of Tafsir [interpretations of the Koran] hold that this verse was sent down regarding every mujahid in the path of Allah… and when Hisham ibn 'Amir plunged into the enemy ranks, some of the people objected to this. So, Umar bin Khattab and Abu Huraira recited this verse." (Tafsir ibn Kathir 1/216).
The articles notes that Abu Huraira and Umar ibn Khattab, the third caliph of Islam, approved acts in which the Muslims knew in advance of their certain deaths, and that authors Maulana Muawiya Hussaini and Ikrimah Anwar cited numerous sayings of Muhammad on the authority of Islamic jurist Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj in which Muhammad approved of such acts. "The Sahaba [companions of Prophet Muhammad] who carried out the attacks almost certainly knew that they were going to be killed during their operations but they still carried them out and such acts were extolled and praised in the sharia."
Recent polling by the Pew Research Center has shown decreases in Muslim support for suicide attacks. In 2011 surveys, less than 15% of Pakistanis, Jordanians, Turks, and Indonesians thought that suicide bombings were sometimes/oftentimes justified. Approximately 28% of Egyptians and 35% of Lebanese felt that suicide bombings were sometimes/oftentimes justified. However, 68% of Palestinians reported that suicide attacks were sometimes/oftentimes justified.
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam are considered to have mastered the use of suicide terrorism as "the contemporary terrorist groups engaged in suicide attacks, the LTTE has conducted the largest number of attacks." The LTTE also has a unit, The Black Tigers, which are "constituted exclusively of cadres who have volunteered to conduct suicide operations."
Pape suggests that resentment of foreign occupation and nationalism is the principal motivation for suicide attacks:
Beneath the religious rhetoric with which [such terror] is perpetrated, it occurs largely in the service of secular aims. Suicide terrorism is mainly a response to foreign occupation rather than a product of Islamic fundamentalism ... Though it speaks of Americans as infidels, al-Qaida is less concerned with converting us to Islam than removing us from Arab and Muslim lands.
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According to Atran and former CIA case officer Marc Sageman, support for suicide actions is triggered by moral outrage at perceived attacks against Islam and sacred values, but this is converted to action as a result of small-world factors. Millions express sympathy with global jihad (according to a 2006 Gallup study involving more than 50,000 interviews in dozens of countries, 7 percent or at least 90 million of the world's 1.3 billion Muslims consider the 9/11 attacks "completely justified").
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- In Al Qaeda, about 70 percent join with friends, 20 percent with kin. Interviews with friends of the 9/11 suicide pilots reveal they weren't "recruited" into Qaeda. They were Middle Eastern Arabs isolated even among the Moroccan and Turkish Muslims who predominate in Germany. Seeking friendship, they began hanging out after services at the Masjad al-Quds and other nearby mosques in Hamburg, in local restaurants and in the dormitory of the Technical University in the suburb of Harburg. Three (Mohamed Atta, Ramzi bin al-Shibh, Marwan al-Shehhi) wound up living together as they self-radicalized. They wanted to go to Chechnya, then Kosovo.
- Hamas's most sustained suicide bombing campaign in 2003-04 involved several buddies from Hebron's Masjad (mosque) al-Jihad soccer team. Most lived in the Wad Abu Katila neighborhood and belonged to the al-Qawasmeh hamula (clan); several were classmates in the neighborhood's local branch of the Palestinian Polytechnic College. Their ages ranged from 18 to 22. At least eight team members were dispatched to suicide shooting and bombing operations by the Hamas military leader in Hebron, Abdullah al-Qawasmeh (killed by Israeli forces in June 2003 and succeeded by his relatives Basel al-Qawasmeh, killed in September 2003, and Imad al-Qawasmeh, captured on October 13, 2004). In retaliation for the assassinations of Hamas leaders Sheikh Ahmed Yassin (March 22, 2004) and Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi (April 17, 2004), Imad al-Qawasmeh dispatched Ahmed al-Qawasmeh and Nasim al-Ja'abri for a suicide attack on two buses in Beer Sheva (August 31, 2004). In December 2004, Hamas declared a halt to suicide attacks.
- On January 15, 2008, the son of Mahmoud al-Zahar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, was killed (another son was killed in a 2003 assassination attempt on Zahar). Three days later, Israel Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered Israel Defense Forces to seal all border crossings with Gaza, cutting off the flow of supplies to the territory in an attempt to stop rocket barrages on Israeli border towns. Nevertheless, violence from both sides only increased. On February 4, 2008, two friends (Mohammed Herbawi, Shadi Zghayer), who were members of the Masjad al-Jihad soccer team, staged a suicide bombing at commercial center in Dimona, Israel. Herbawi had previously been arrested as a 17-year-old on 15 March 2003 shortly after a suicide bombing on Haifa bus (by Mamoud al-Qawasmeh on March 5, 2003) and coordinated suicide shooting attacks on Israeli settlements by others on the team (March 7, 2003, Muhsein, Hazem al-Qawasmeh, Fadi Fahuri, Sufian Hariz) and before another set of suicide bombings by team members in Hebron and Jerusalem on May 17-18 2003 (Fuad al-Qawasmeh, Basem Takruri, Mujahed al-Ja'abri). Although Hamas claimed responsibility for the Dimona attack, the politburo leadership in Damascus and Beirut was clearly initially unaware of who initiated and carried out the attack. It appears that Ahmad al-Ja'abri, military commander of Hamas's Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades in Gaza requested the suicide attack through Ayoub Qawasmeh, Hamas's military liaison in Hebron, who knew where to look for eager young men who had self-radicalized together and had already mentally prepared themselves for martyrdom.
The concept of self-sacrifice has long been a part of war. However, many instances of suicide bombing today have intended civilian targets, not military targets alone. "Suicide bombing as a tool of stateless terrorists was dreamed up a hundred years ago by the European anarchists immortalized in Joseph Conrad’s 'Secret Agent.'"
The ritual act of self-sacrifice during combat appeared in a large scale at the end of World War II with the Japanese kamikaze bombers. In these attacks, airplanes were used as flying bombs. Later in the war, as Japan became more desperate, this act became formalized and ritualized, as planes were outfitted with explosives specific to the task of a suicide mission. Kamikaze strikes were a weapon of asymmetric war used by the Empire of Japan against United States Navy and Royal Navy aircraft carriers, although the armoured flight deck of the Royal Navy carriers diminished Kamikaze effectiveness. The Japanese Navy also used piloted torpedoes called kaiten on suicide missions. Although sometimes called midget submarines, these were modified versions of the unmanned torpedoes of the time and are distinct from the torpedo-firing midget submarines used earlier in the war, which were designed to infiltrate shore defences and return to a mother ship after firing their torpedoes. Though extremely hazardous, these midget submarine attacks were not technically suicide missions, as the earlier kaitens had escape hatches. Later kaitens, by contrast, provided no means of escape. Suicide attacks were used as a military tactic aimed at causing material damage in war, during the Second World War in the Pacific as Allied ships were attacked by Japanese kamikaze pilots who caused maximum damage by flying their explosive-laden aircraft into military targets, not focused on civilian targets.
During the Battle for Berlin the Luftwaffe flew "Self-sacrifice missions" (Selbstopfereinsatz) against Soviet bridges over the River Oder. These 'total missions' were flown by pilots of the Leonidas Squadron. From April 17-20, 1945, using any available aircraft, the Luftwaffe claimed the squadron had destroyed 17 bridges, however military historian Antony Beevor when writing about the incident thinks that this was exaggerated and that only the railway bridge at Küstrin was definitely destroyed. He comments that "thirty-five pilots and aircraft was a high price to pay for such a limited and temporary success". The missions were called off when the Soviet ground forces reached the vicinity of the squadron's airbase at Jüterbog.
In 1972, at Lod airport in Tel Aviv, Israel, three Japanese used grenades and automatic rifles to kill 26 people and wound many more. The group belonged to the Japanese Red Army (JRA) a terrorist organization created in 1969 and allied to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). Until then, no group involved in terrorism had conducted such a suicide operation in Israel.
1980 to present
Modern suicide bombing—involving explosives deliberately carried to the target either on the person or in a civilian vehicle and delivered by surprise—has been dated from 1981. It was used by factions of the Lebanese Civil War and especially by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) of Sri Lanka. The tactic had spread to dozens of countries by 2005. Those hardest-hit are Sri Lanka during its prolonged ethnic conflict, Lebanon during its civil war, Israel and the Palestinian Territories since 1994, and Iraq since the US-led invasion in 2003. Since 2006, al-Shabaab and its predecessor, the Islamic Courts, have carried out major suicide attacks in Somalia.
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The Islamic Dawa Party's car bombing of the Iraqi embassy in Beirut in December 1981 and Hezbollah's bombing of the U.S. embassy in April 1983 and attack on United States Marine and French barracks in October 1983 brought suicide bombings international attention. Other parties to the civil war were quick to adopt the tactic, and by 1999 factions such as Hezbollah, the Amal Movement, the Ba'ath Party, and the Syrian Social Nationalist Party had carried out around 50 suicide bombings between them. (The latter of these groups sent the first recorded female suicide bomber in 1985.
Lebanon saw the first bombing, but it was the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka who perfected the tactic and inspired its use elsewhere. Their Black Tiger unit has committed between 76 and 168 (estimates vary) suicide bombings since 1987, the higher estimates putting them behind more than half of the world's suicide bombings between 1980 and 2000. The list of victims include former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, and the president of Sri Lanka, Ranasinghe Premadasa.
On October 24, 1990, a Catholic man, Patrick Gillespie, who had worked as a cook at the Fort George British Army base in Derry City, was forced by the PIRA to drive to an active checkpoint at Killeen, County Armagh, Northern Ireland, or else his two sons would be murdered, making him in essence an unwilling proxy bomber, on a mission, which it turned out, he could never have survived, a fact of which he was unaware. An armed IRA team followed him by car to ensure he obeyed their commands. Four minutes from the checkpoint, the IRA team armed the bomb remotely. When Gillespie reached the checkpoint, at 3:55 a.m., he tried to get out and warn the soldiers, but the bomb detonated when he attempted to open the door. The bomb makers had installed a detonation device linked to the van's courtesy light, which came on whenever the van door opened. They also used a timing device to ensure that the bomb detonated at the right moment. Gillespie and five soldiers, including Ranger Cyril J. Smith, 2nd Bn Royal Irish Rangers, were killed. Smith died trying to warn colleagues and was awarded the Queens Gallantry Medal posthumously.
Suicide bombing is a popular tactic among Palestinian militant organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Bombers affiliated with these groups often use so-called "suicide belts", explosive devices (often including shrapnel) designed to be strapped to the body under clothing. In order to maximize the loss of life, the bombers seek out cafés or city buses crowded with people at rush hour, or less commonly a military target (for example, soldiers waiting for transport at roadside). By seeking enclosed locations, a successful bomber usually kills a large number of people. In Israel, Palestinian suicide bombers have targeted civilian buses, restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and marketplaces.
Palestinian television has aired a number of music videos and announcements that promote eternal reward for children who seek "shahada", which Palestinian Media Watch [clarification needed] has claimed is "Islamic motivation of suicide terrorists". The Chicago Tribune has documented the concern of Palestinian parents that their children are encouraged to take part in suicide operations. Israeli sources alleged that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah operate "Paradise Camps", training children as young as 11 to become suicide bombers.
The Kurdistan Workers' Party has also employed suicide bombings in the scope of its guerrilla attacks on Turkish security forces since the beginning of their insurgency against the Turkish state in 1984. Although the majority of PKK activity is focused on village guards, gendarme, and military posts, they have employed suicide bombing tactics on tourist sites and commercial centers in Western Turkish cities, especially during the peak of tourism season.
The September 11 attacks involved the hijacking by 19 terrorists of four large passenger jets in which three were deliberately flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, New York, and into the Pentagon in Arlington County, Virginia. Inside a fourth jet, passengers battled the hijackers and the plane crashed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. 246 victims aboard the planes were killed (there were no survivors), as well as 2,731 more in and around the targeted buildings. The passenger jets selected were required to be fully fueled to fly cross-country, turning the planes themselves into the largest suicide bombs in history. The September 11 attacks had a vast economic and political impact. Al-Qaeda, the militant Islamist group responsible for the attacks, effected a trillion-dollar drop in global markets within one week, and triggered massive increases in military and security expenditure in response.
On December 22, 2001, Richard Reid, a British would-be suicide bomber, attempted to destroy the American Airlines Flight 63 by the means of a bomb hidden in a shoe. He was captured and arrested after he was unable to light the bomb's fuse.
After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Iraqi and foreign insurgents carried out waves of suicide bombings. They attacked United States military targets, although many civilian targets (e.g., Shiite mosques, international offices of the UN and the Red Cross) were also attacked. Iraqi men waiting to apply for jobs with the new army and police force) were targets. In the lead up to the Iraqi parliamentary election, on January 30, 2005, suicide attacks upon civilian and security personnel involved with the elections increased, and there were reports of the insurgents co-opting disabled people as involuntary suicide bombers.
On 7 July 2005, during the morning rush hour, four Islamist suicide bombers exploded home-made peroxide explosives on three London underground trains and a bus causing many deaths and casualties, a disaster known as "7/7".
In the first eight months of 2008, Pakistan overtook Iraq and Afghanistan in suicide bombings, with 28 bombings killing 471 people.
First the targets were American soldiers, then mostly Israelis, including women and children. From Lebanon and Israel, the technique of suicide bombing moved to Iraq, where the targets have included mosques and shrines, and the intended victims have mostly been Shiite Iraqis. The newest testing ground is Afghanistan, where both the perpetrators and the targets are orthodox Sunni Muslims. Not long ago, a bombing in Lashkar Gah, the capital of Helmand Province, killed Muslims, including women, who were applying to go on pilgrimage to Mecca. Overall, the trend is definitively in the direction of Muslim-on-Muslim violence. By a conservative accounting, more than three times as many Iraqis have been killed by suicide bombings in the last 3 years as have Israelis in the last 10. Suicide bombing has become the archetype of Muslim violence – not just to Westerners but also to Muslims themselves.
The Pew Global Attitudes Project surveys Muslim publics to measure support for suicide bombing and other forms of violence that target civilians in order to defend Islam. In the annual poll, the highest support for such acts has been reported by Palestinians (at approximately 70 percent), except for years in which Palestinians were not surveyed. The lowest support has generally been observed in Turkey (between 3 and 17 percent, depending on the year). The 2009 report concluded that support for suicide bombing has declined in recent years, especially in Pakistan, where support dropped from 33 percent in 2002 (the first year of the survey) to 5 percent in 2009.
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||The neutrality of this article is disputed. (April 2015)|
Suicide bombings are sometimes followed by reprisals. As a successful suicide bomber cannot be targeted, the response is often a targeting of those believed to have sent the bomber. In targeting such organizations, Israel often uses military strikes against organizations, individuals, and possibly infrastructure. In the West Bank the IDF formerly demolished homes that belong to families whose children (or renters whose tenants) had volunteered for such missions (whether successfully or not), though an internal review starting in October 2004 brought an end to the policy, but was resumed in 2014.
In the case of the 9/11 attacks, the long-term effects remain to be seen, but in the short term, the results were negative for Al-Qaeda, as well as the Taliban Movement. Since the September 11 attacks, Western nations have diverted massive resources towards stopping similar actions, as well as tightening up borders, and military actions against various countries believed to have been involved with terrorism. Critics of the War on Terrorism suggest the results were negative, as the proceeding actions of the United States and other countries has increased the number of recruits, and their willingness to carry out suicide bombings. It is more difficult to determine whether Palestinian suicide bombings have proved to be a successful tactic. In the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the suicide bombers were repeatedly deployed since the Oslo Accords. In 1996, the Israelis elected the conservative candidate Benjamin Netanyahu who promised to restore safety by conditioning every step in the peace process on Israel's assessment of the Palestinian National Authority's fulfillment of its obligations in curbing violence as outlined in the Oslo agreements.
In the course of al-Aqsa Intifada which followed the collapse of the Camp David II summit between the PLO and Israel, the number of suicide attacks increased. In response, Israel mobilized its army in order to seal off the Gaza Strip and reinstate military control of the West Bank, patrolling the area with tanks. The Israelis began a campaign of targeted killings to kill militant Palestinian leaders, using jets and helicopters to deploy high-precision bombs and missiles.
The suicide missions, having killed and injured many Israelis, are believed by some to have brought on a move to the political right, increasing public support for hard-line policies towards the Palestinians, and a government headed by the former general, prime minister Ariel Sharon. Sharon's government has imposed restrictions on the Palestinian community in response to the suicide bombings. The separation barrier has been credited with reducing the number of suicide bombing attacks.
Social support by some for this activity remained, however, as of the calling of a truce at the end of June 2003. This may be due to the economic or social purpose of the suicide bombing and the bombers' refusal to accept external judgements on those who sanction them. Often extremists assert that, because they are outclassed militarily, suicide bombings are necessary. For example, the former leader of Hamas Sheikh Ahmad Yassin stated: "Once we have warplanes and missiles, then we can think of changing our means of legitimate self-defense. But right now, we can only tackle the fire with our bare hands and sacrifice ourselves."
Such views are challenged both from the outside and from within Islam. According to Islamic jurist and scholar Khaled Abou Al-Fadl,
The classical jurists, nearly without exception, argued that those who attack by stealth, while targeting noncombatants in order to terrorize the resident and wayfarer, are corrupters of the earth. "Resident and wayfarer" was a legal expression that meant that whether the attackers terrorize people in their urban centers or terrorize travelers, the result was the same: all such attacks constitute a corruption of the earth. The legal term given to people who act this way was muharibun (those who wage war against society), and the crime is called the crime of hiraba (waging war against society). The crime of hiraba was so serious and repugnant that, according to Islamic law, those guilty of this crime were considered enemies of humankind and were not to be given quarter or sanctuary anywhere .... Those who are familiar with the classical tradition will find the parallels between what were described as crimes of hiraba and what is often called terrorism today nothing short of remarkable. The classical jurists considered crimes such as assassinations, setting fires, or poisoning water wells – that could indiscriminately kill the innocent – as offenses of hiraba. Furthermore, hijacking methods of transportation or crucifying people in order to spread fear are also crimes of hiraba. Importantly, Islamic law strictly prohibited the taking of hostages, the mutilation of corpses, and torture.
The Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Al Shaykh, issued a fatwa on September 12, 2013 that suicide bombings are "great crimes" and bombers are "criminals who rush themselves to hell by their actions". Al Shaykh described suicide bombers as "robbed of their minds... who have been used (as tools) to destroy themselves and societies."
"In view of the fast-moving dangerous developments in the Islamic world, it is very distressing to see the tendencies of permitting or underestimating the shedding of blood of Muslims and those under protection in their countries. The sectarian or ignorant utterances made by some of these people would benefit none other than the greedy, vindictive and envious people. Hence, we would like to draw attention to the seriousness of the attacks on Muslims or those who live under their protection or under a pact with them", Al Shaykh said, quoting a number of verses from the Qur'an and Hadith.
- 2010 Austin plane crash
- Child suicide bombers in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict
- Fieseler Fi 103R Reichenberg
- Leonidas Squadron
- List of Palestinian suicide attacks
- Martyrdom video
- Pierre Rehov
- Proxy bomb
- Explosive belt
- Heather Penney
- 7 July 2005 London bombings
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