Suicide bombers driven more by politics than religion

At a time when the Western world worries about weapons of mass destruction in terrorist hands, a more basic device has emerged as the weapon of choice – a life itself.

Data shows that the incidence of suicide attacks has increased from 31 in the 1980s to 98 in 2003 alone. The war in Iraq and escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have led to such an increase. Also, US foreign policy may be contributing to an acceleration of this trend.

In a ground-breaking study, University of Chicago political scientist Robert Papp has shown that there is little connection between religious fundamentalism and suicide attacks. The leading instigators of suicide attacks between 1980 and 2001 were the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a nationalist group whose members, though from Hindu families, are adamantly opposed to religion. Religion does not play as large a role as it is normally accorded.

Papp’s study shows that suicide attacks follow a strategic logic designed to coerce modern liberal democracies into making political and territorial concessions. “Terrorists have learned that it pays,” leading to a rise in suicide attacks over the past two decades, according to Papp.

After reviewing psychological studies of suicide attackers, University of Michigan psychologist Scott Atran concluded that suicide attackers have no appreciable psychological pathologies and are as educated and economically well-off as the surrounding populations. To understand why nonpathological individuals volunteer to become suicide attackers we must focus on situational factors, which are largely sociological in nature. In the the Middle East, these include a collective sense of historical injustice, political subservience and a pervasive sense of social humiliations vis-a-vis global powers and their allies.

To eliminate suicide attacks ultimately requires addressing and lessening the grievances of populations that carry them out.

I totally agree…

[Source: Electronic Intifada]

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