Suicide weapon

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Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka, a weapon especially designed for a suicide attack
A suicide vest with ball bearings

A suicide weapon is a weapon or object that is used in a suicide attack, typically based on explosives.[citation needed]


Suicide weapons have been used both in conventional warfare, as well as in terrorism.[citation needed]

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 Moro's Islamic religion. During an attack, a Juramentado would throw themselves at their targets and kill them with bladed weapons such as Barongs and Kris until they themselves were killed. The Moros performed juramentado suicide attacks against the Spanish in the Spanish–Moro conflict, the Americans in the Moro Rebellion, and against the Japanese in World War II.[1] The Moro Juramentados aimed their attacks specifically against their enemies, and not non-Muslims in general. They launched suicide attacks on the Japanese, Spanish, Americans and Filipinos, but did not attack the non-Muslim Chinese since the Chinese were not considered enemies of the Moro people.[2][3][4][5][6] The Japanese responded to these suicide attacks by massacring all the relatives of the attacker.[7]

Muslim Acehnese from the Aceh Sultanate performed "holy war" known as Parang-sabil against invaders such as Americans in the attack on Joseph Peabody's ship Friendship, the First Sumatran expedition and the Second Sumatran expedition,[8][9][10][11][12][13][14] and against the Dutch in the Dutch expedition on the west coast of Sumatra and most notably during the Aceh War, where they performed suicide attacks as part of "parang sabil". It was considered as part of personal jihad in the Islamic religion of the Acehnese. The Dutch called it Atjèh-moord,[15][16] (Acehmord, Aceh mord, Aceh-mord) or (Aceh Pungo). The Acehnese work of literature, the Hikayat Perang Sabil provided the background and reasoning for the "Aceh-mord"- Acehnese suicide attacks upon the Dutch, .[17][18][19] The Indonesian translations of the Dutch terms are Aceh bodoh (Aceh pungo) or Aceh gila (Aceh mord).[20]

Atjèh-moord was also used against the Japanese by the Acehnese during the Japanese occupation of Aceh.[21] The Acehnese Ulama (Islamic clerics) fought against both the Dutch and the Japanese, revolting against the Dutch in February 1942 and against Japan in November 1942. The revolt was led by the All-Aceh Religious Scholars' Association ( PUSA). The Japanese suffered 18 dead in the uprising while they slaughtered up to 100 or over 120 Acehnese.[22][23] The revolt happened in Bayu and was centred around Tjot Plieng village's religious school.[24][25][26][27] During the revolt, the Japanese troops armed with mortars and machine guns were charged by sword wielding Acehnese under Teungku Abduldjalil (Tengku Abdul Djalil) in Buloh Gampong Teungah and Tjot Plieng on 10 and 13 November.[28][29][30][31][32][33][34] On May 1945 the Acehnese rebelled again.[35]

The original Jawi script Acehnese language work Hikayat Perang Sabil (w:ace:Hikayat Prang Sabi, w:id:Hikayat Prang Sabi) has been transliterated into the Latin alphabet and annotated by Ibrahim Alfian (Teuku.) published in Jakarta.[36] Perang sabi was the Acehnese word for jihad, a holy war and Acehnese language literary works on perang sabi were distributed by Islamic clerics ('ulama) such as Teungku di Tiro to help the resistance against the Dutch in the Aceh War.[37] The recompense awarded by in paradise detailed in Islamic Arabic texts and Dutch atrocities were expounded on in the Hikayat Perang Sabil which was communally read by small cabals of Ulama and Acehnese who swore an oath before going to achieve the desired status of "martyr" by launching suicide attacks on the Dutch.[38] Perang sabil was the Malay equivalent to other terms like Jihad, Ghazawat for "Holy war", the text was also spelled "Hikayat perang sabi".[39] Fiction novels like Sayf Muhammad Isa's Sabil: Prahara di Bumi Rencong on the war by Aceh against the Dutch include references ro Hikayat Perang Sabil.[40] Mualimbunsu Syam Muhammad wrote the work called "Motives for Perang Sabil in Nusantara", Motivasi perang sabil di Nusantara: kajian kitab Ramalan Joyoboyo, Dalailul-Khairat, dan Hikayat Perang Sabil on Indonesia's history of Islamic holy war (Jihad).[41] Children and women were inspired to do suicide attacks by the Hikayat Perang Sabil against the Dutch.[17] Hikayat Perang Sabil is also known as "Hikayat Prang Sabi".[42] Hikayat Perang Sabil is considered as part of 19th century Malay literature.[43] In Dutch occupied Aceh, Hikayat Perang Sabil was confiscated from Sabi's house during a Police raid on September 27, 1917.[44][45][46]

Chinese suicide bomber putting on an explosive vest made out of Model 24 hand grenades to use in an attack on Japanese tanks at the Battle of Taierzhuang.

In the Second Sino-Japanese War, Chinese used suicide bombing against the Japanese with explosive vests.[47][48] A Chinese soldier detonated a grenade vest and killed 20 Japanese 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.[49] 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,[50] 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.[51][52][53][54][55][56] During one incident at Taierzhuang, Chinese suicide bombers obliterated four Japanese tanks with grenade bundles.[57][58] The Pacific War of World War II bore witness to the Japanese kamikaze suicide attack pilots ("kamikaze" was not a term used by the Japanese themselves). Late in the war, as the tide turned against Japan, kamikaze pilots were deployed to attempt to crash their aircraft into American and allied ships in the Pacific. The Japanese even developed specialized aircraft for the tactic, such as the Yokosuka Ohka flying bomb.[59] A successful kamikaze attack would both kill the plane's pilot and damage the target ship, possibly even sinking it. Related tactics included the kaiten suicide minisub, a human torpedo which a single Japanese pilot would steer into an Allied ship.[60]

North Korean tanks were attacked by South Koreans with suicide tactics during the North Korean conquest of the South.[61][62]

American tanks at Seoul were attacked by North Korean suicide squads,[63] who used satchel charges.[64] A North Korean soldier named Li Su-Bok, who exploded an American tank with a suicide bomb, is hailed as a hero in North Korean propaganda.[65]

Certain aircraft built or projected for the Luftwaffe during the time of the Allied bombing before the surrender of Nazi Germany in World War II, such as the Bachem Ba 349, Fliegende Panzerfaust, Sombold So 344, Zeppelin Rammer or the Blohm & Voss BV 40 are sometimes listed as suicide weapons.[66] However, they were not intended as such, even though the chances of survival would have been very limited for the pilots of such dangerous artifacts.[67] In those years Nazi authorities considered the use of selbstopfer (suicide) planes such as the Messerschmitt Me 328 and the Fieseler 103.[68]

During the Cold War, it was argued[by whom?] that the doctrine of mutual assured destruction turned nuclear weapons into suicide weapons. The idea of a Doomsday weapon took this to its logical extreme.[citation needed]

Political groups using suicide weapons in the post-Cold War era include mainly outfits affiliated to Islamic terrorism,[69] among which even children have been used in order to escape detection when carrying out suicide attacks.[70] However, non-Islamic groups, such as the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, also have been prone to use suicide weapons.[71] Today, the most common suicide weapons used to carry out terrorist attacks are car bombs or truck bombs, as well as antipersonnel bombs carried by a single person. Suicide bombers strap explosives, often covered with nails, screws, or other items intended to act as fragments, to their bodies or otherwise carry them into populated areas and detonate them. The Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka are known for having made high-profile use of this method in the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi. Similar methods have been also used by Palestinian terrorist groups in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, among others.

Kamikaze attacks were mimicked in the September 11, 2001 attacks, in which a group of mostly Saudi terrorists destroyed the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon by flying hijacked jet airliners into them. It was the first and only time in history that hijacked jet airliners filled with fuel were used as cruise missiles against targets of such magnitude.[72][73]


See also[edit]


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