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Suicide Bombers: Profiles, Methods and Techniques

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Research paper

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From 1986 to 2003, 17 groups in 14 different countries used suicide bombing tactics. Less than 400 of these attacks resulted in the deaths of more than 5,000 people with injuries to more than 20,000, and economic damages in excess of 121 billion. Suicide bombing has become a popular terrorist modus operandi because it represents a low-cost, low-tech, and low-risk weapon that is readily available, requires little training, leaves little forensic trace, and strikes fear into the general population. Professor Robert Pape of the University of Chicago examined all suicide-terrorist attacks in the world that occurred from 1980 to 2001. Of the 188 worldwide suicide attacks during this period, 95 were undertaken as part of an organized political campaign. His findings indicate that suicide bombings made up 3 of total terrorist attacks but produced 45 of the casualties not including the Twin Towers. Although profiling has been controversial because it discriminates against a selected group of people, it is evident that terrorists are not evenly distributed among the worlds population. Almost exclusively, suicide bombers emanate from distinct ethnicities and religions furthermore, recent history indicates that they come from the ArabMuslim or East Asian cultures. As important as the suicide bombers are the activists and sympathizers who offer them support and comfort. These activists may recoil from committing acts of violence themselves but may sympathize with those who do, and offer moral and material support. Improvised explosive devices IEDs have emerged as the most serious threat to multinational forces participating in Operation Iraqi Freedom, with roadside bombings being the insurgents preferred method of attack. This article explores the psychosocial aspects and methods and techniques of suicide bombers in general, but with particular focus on those operating in Israel, Sri Lanka, and Great Britain.

Subject Categories:

  • Sociology and Law
  • Psychology
  • Unconventional Warfare

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