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Suicide bombers. Who are they?

Friday, September 23, 2011 - 16:09

The most dangerous manifestation of terrorism in the past two decades, in terms of the consequences of terrorist attacks and the complexity of their prevention is the use of suicide bombers in a number of terrorist organizations.
In addition to the Middle East and South Asian countries suicide bombers have left their mark in Europe (Russia, Bosnia), Latin America (Argentina), in the U.S. and in Central Asia (Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan). Over the past 3 months of 2011 there were several terrorist acts in Kazakhstan, covered by the media as explosions, allegedly resulting from the careless handling of explosives, and therefore had no motivation on the part of the perpetrators. At this point we can say with certainty that the perpetrators were most likely suicide bombers.
According to independent experts, Kazakh authorities have missed the moment of transformation of Muslim preachers and followers of the ideology of "Salafi" in an armed organized thugs operating on a vast territory of Kazakhstan. One may analyze the invisible impact of radicalization as much as one wants, but it seems that at the moment the anti-terrorist units and intelligence analysts find themselves in a difficult situation.
The consequences of such terrorist acts all the time affect not only matters of national security of certain countries, but also affect the solution of regional problems. From this point of view in the arsenal of tools used by terrorists suicide bombers are considered by them as a "weapon" of strategic purpose.
The threat of suicide bombers requires unconventional approaches to working out measures to prevent it including using the full potential of intelligence and other agencies involved in the fight against terrorism, both at national and international levels. Implementation of enforcement measures only to combat this phenomenon as well as terrorism in general is not enough. Solving these problems requires a comprehensive approach, and the eradication of the causes contributing to the reproduction of suicide bombers is one of its components.
To this date, both in foreign academic research on terrorism and the speeches of experts in the field of combating terrorism can be traced fairly unambiguous interpretation of the term "suicide bomber." The phenomenon of suicide bomber is seen as a method of carrying out terrorist actions, the results of which are directly connected with the death of their perpetrators. Expanded definition of this concept was, in particular, presented in the report of one of the leaders of the Israeli Institute of World Politics in the fight against terrorism, E. Schweitzer (Е. Швейтцер), "Suicide terrorism is politically motivated use of force, carried by an individual (individuals) who actively and intentionally kills himself along with the selected object. The inevitable death of the performer of such action is the key to the success of a terrorist operation. "
This formulation of the concept of "politically motivated use of force" also includes ideological, religious, nationalist, or a mix of these motivations.
Thus, the basic defining key of the term "suicide bomber" is a full awareness of the performer that unless he sacrifices his life the terrorist act does not take place. Characteristically suicide bombers themselves and their supporters do not view such actions as an act of suicide. They believe in committing a heroic act in the name of a higher purpose.
For a mentally normal person in order to committed an act of self-destruction, he must either be in a state of mind where it is this the only possible output due to his life circumstances, or to be guided by such deep-seated ideological, religious or other beliefs, that for the sake of the realization them he is willing to sacrifice his life. A person makes this choice independently due to a number of reasons, forming his character and way of thinking, or under the influence of a focused working of representatives of the forces that are interested in committing such acts.
At the present time the phenomenon of suicide bomber is widespread mostly in organizations of extremist Islamic fundamentalist. Speculating on the teachings of Islam and deliberately distorting some of its provisions, especially the doctrine of "jihad", the orthodox flows of this religion create the most fanatical terrorists - suicide bombers.
Islamic radicals, setting out to create a single caliphate living under the laws of the Koran on the basis of the Muslim world, consider as its main enemy the influence of Western liberal ideas, breaking the laws and traditions of Muslims. Therefore, the edge of their attacks, including suicide bombers, is aimed at those countries and regimes. According to foreign experts, currently 14 terrorist organizations from 12 countries have resorted to the use of suicide bombers in their operations.
Propitious environment, amplifying person's willingness to become a suicide bomber, are the socio-economic causes such as poverty, beggary, lack of opportunities in life, as well as the desire for revenge over the death of loved ones, so the religious basis in some cases does not play essential role.
Analyzing the reasons of using suicide bombers by a number of terrorist organizations it should be noted that in addition to strategic considerations this method draws their attention due to the following circumstances:
- terrorist attacks committed by suicide bombers lead to a large number of casualties and serious destruction;
- suicide bombers acts are widely covered in the media, thus achieving the desired propaganda effect;
- despite the relative simplicity of suicide bomber operations, they bring considerable political dividends to the organization, demonstrating its willingness to use the most extreme measures in its fight while raising the morale of its members. In addition, the economic effect of these acts is very high. The expenses are generally low (cost of materials for manufacturing explosive devices used by suicide bombers in Israel is estimated an average $ 150) while the increase in donations from sympathizers of the Islamic foundations, organizations, individuals can reach up to several hundred million of dollars;
- a high probability of carrying out the act in the right place at the right time. If a suicide bomber is delivered to the planned location, to prevent a terrorist act is almost impossible;
- a terrorist operation has no longer its most difficult part related to ensuring the withdrawal of those who commit the act after it is carried out;
- death of suicide bomber means that there are no concerns regarding his capture and eventual disclosure of information about the organization as a result of the actions of the investigating authorities;
- Suicide bombers’ acts aim to frighten the population and form an opinion that these fanatics can not be stopped and that there are many of them among the members of organizations that use suicide bombers.
The Islamic extremist organizations have worked out the most comprehensive system of attracting suicide bombers involving psychological and special training for executing this mission.
The Islamic culture itself helps becoming a suicide bomber in these organizations since it creates a psychological readiness to relentless fight until the self-sacrifice for the preservation of values revered by Muslims in armed attacks, exerting pressure from outside forces or their own ruling regimes, aimed at the erosion of the established traditions of Muslims and standards of living. This willingness is enhanced by the adverse social factors.
For organizations such as "Hizbollah," (Хезболлах) Hamas (ХАМАС), "Islamic Jihad" (Исламский джихад) and some others it is not hard to find candidates for suicide. There have been instances when the candidates were selected just one week before the terrorist attacks. Typically, the process of selecting candidates for suicide runs in Islamic educational centers, sponsored by Islamic radicals, or influenced by them, as well as in mosques during religious instruction and preaching. The theme of death in the name of Allah is discussed with a group of students. A preacher notes a reaction to it. Those who show a keen interest in it are separated from the overall number of students or parishioners. After being selected the candidate goes through pretty detailed preparation, so that his reaction and behavior in extreme situations would not prevent the execution of assignment. Only those candidates who show confidence and composure are allowed to proceed to the next stage of training.
At this stage the candidate "disappears" from his family and begins a fairly long period of studying all the aspects of future mission. A study of explosive devices and techniques of their application is usually the last stage of preparation, so the candidate does not have second thoughts about the right choice. During this period, physical training and psychological "refinement" of the candidate is also carried out. Some of the suicide bombers in order to overcome the fear of death are even taken to the cemetery where they lie in graves for hours.
A suicide bomber is sent of to carry out the assignment from the mosque, accompanied by a support group. By this time the level of psychological readiness of suicide bomber is so high that he passes the security services and approaches the goal without a trace of emotion.
Committing an act of self-destruction suicide bomber is usually smiling, looking forward to pleasure waiting for him beyond the grave. This kind of smile was observed by many witnesses of terrorist acts.
Analysis of Palestinian suicide bombers contingent carried out earlier by Israeli experts shows the following:
- young people between the ages of 18 to 27 years;
- not married, unemployed, from a poor family;
- received secondary education;
- most are the students of Islamic educational centers under the auspices of Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank;
- some of the suicide bombers who had been arrested earlier by Israeli intelligence agencies have expressed a desire to avenge the death or injury of family members or friends.
- However the practice of recent years suggests that suicide bombers may be representatives of the wealthy classes, who studied at universities in Europe or the USA. The use of Islamic women to carry out attacks of this type was a new phenomenon. In Russia, Chechen terrorists began to engage in such operations Chechen women against national traditions and customs. Such violation of religion principles and ancient secular traditions is properly grounded by ideologists of terrorism.
As for reward of Islamist suicide bombers, according to his "teachers", he gets the following privileges:
- an afterlife in paradise;
- opportunity to see the face of Allah;
- favor of 72 young brides, pleasuring him in heaven. In addition, a suicide bomber provides guaranteed life in heaven to 70 of his relatives or closest friends. His family after the act is carried out is honored, as well as receive financial support about one thousand dollars, younger family members are provided with scholarships when entering educational establishments. The organization of "Hezbollah" allocated up to $ 70 million annually for the maintenance expenses of suicide bombers families (according to 2001 data), for example, 50% of this amount came from the Persian Gulf countries, 35% from Europe (mainly from the UK), 15% from the US. When a terrorist act and the death of a suicide bomber is reported it is seen by his family and the friends as a great holiday: parents receive congratulations, prepare feast, everybody have fun.
Thus, the main reasons that lead people to the path of suicide bombers "shahid," are distorted religious views combined with a sense of national extremism and a desire for revenge.
The choice of terrorist attack method using suicide bombers depends on the objectives of terrorist operation, the selected object of attack, the situation in the surroundings of the object, the possibility to approach it close enough to effectively achieve a suicide bomber’s goal.
The tactics of suicide bombers include both single and group attacks on objects. Planning and preparation stages of terrorist attack by suicide bombers are held in top secret. So in most cases it can be very difficult for security services to establish (and sometimes not at all possible) the true initiators of it, and also the time when a suicide bomber receives the signal of the beginning of terrorist operation.
The surprise factor is of great importance and is achieved through the lack of templates in the tactics of the operation, using various types of explosive devices, the choice of location and timing of a terrorist act.
The practice of law enforcement agencies around the world involved in the fight against terrorism shows that the most difficult part of their work is to prevent terrorist attacks which involve suicide bombers.
In cases of successful suicide bombers attacks overseas, as a rule, later serious deficiencies of the security services were identified in the organization of the physical, engineering and technical protection of the objects.
According to western intelligence services, security measures must be flexible and accommodate changes in the tactics used by terrorists and their means of destruction. However, in the fight against terrorism one can not rely only on force, it requires a deep awareness and prevention work related to the exposure of its false ideological and religious roots. In this regard the special role is played by religious authorities who, addressing Muslim audiences, explain the essence of the distortion of Islam and the perversity of the way in which militant preachers of jihad are trying to lead the Muslims.
In order to fight terrorism in general and suicide bombers in particular the international community should:
- raise the level of cooperation of people of all faiths in order to prevent the spread of distorted religious views used by terrorists to justify themselves, although terrorism is prohibited by all religious canons;
- deal with the so-called religious legality associated with suicide bombers among extremist groups and individuals claiming to play a legitimate role of religious leaders, by exposing their true intentions and false religious interpretation;
- conduct educational work in countries affected by terrorism, paying particular attention to young people who often become "cannon fodder";
- to prohibit terrorist organizations to use their funds and to collect them in the name of religious or social purposes since their purpose is actually to carry out terrorist operations or spread propaganda inciting hatred for the Gentiles;
- Cooperate in developing new technologies and tactics to strengthen special anti-terrorist units;
- Establish an international fund for in combating terrorism research;
- Develop and implement a common policy against the governments that support or are actively involved in terrorism in general and suicide terrorism in particular.
Thus, the analysis of suicide bombings over the past two decades strongly suggests that this method of terrorist acts is considered by some terrorist organizations as one of the most effective tools to achieve their goals.
Assessing the threat of suicide bombers to Kazakhstan based on foreign experience, it should be noted that in the culture, traditions and religious beliefs of peoples and ethnic groups populating it, there are no grounds for the cultivation of this phenomenon. Without a system of government measures aimed at curbing this expansion, relaying only on the security forces and intelligence services it is hardly possible to find solution to counter terrorist forms of adoption in our country the ideas of Islamic fundamentalism, including using suicide bombers.
Thus given the terrorist activity in the region in recent months as well as development of socio-political situation in Kazakhstan, the authorities' desire to present the events as the fight against organized crime, we can predict with confidence further growth of terrorist threats, including the use of suicide bombers both in Kazakhstan and in other independent states of the region.

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