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The Suicide Bomber.


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21:24 / 13.01.03
I'm thinking it might be a good thing to have a thread discussing (and collecting) viewpoints on the phenomenon of the suicide bomber.

Every discussion of Israel and the War on Terra seems to stumble somehow on this idea - almost as if you can't be rational when faced by people willing to blow themselves up. "How can they hate us that much?" is one of the frequent questions, with the unspoken answer, "Because they're subhuman animals, consumed by hate."

I started thinking about this when assigned last week to research (of all things) a suicide trend that struck Japanese teenagers (primarily girls, apparently) in the early 30s. The common retelling of the story is this, from this "February 11 in history" page here:

On this day in 1933, 19-year-old Japanese schoolgirl Kiyoko Matsumoto committed suicide by jumping into the thousand-foot crater of a volcano on the island of Oshima. This act started a bizarre fashion in Japan and in the ensuing months three hundred children did the same thing.

You can see the tabloid angle, I'm pretty sure - a wacky trend in self-destruction comes out of nowhere and eventually (pardon the pun) dies out. It's long enough ago and far enough away to be a quaint curiosity, like medieval flagellants or dishes made with sea cucumbers.

But a little further research (on an old Japanese film discussion board) uncovers a much more relevant retelling of the story:

(sorry for length)

Date: Tue, 27 Jul 1999 13:55:13 +0900
From: "Peter B. High"
Subject: Re: Satchi

One of the remarkable aspects of the above incidents was the manner in which the national press would throw up one real-life "candidate" after another (in the form of "provocations" and then of valorous deaths in action) in an open attempt to find just the right material to fit a pre-determined narrative model. This, naturally, would lead to the impression on on the part of the public spectator of similar incidents "clustering"--in other words, the instinctive perception of "crisis"....

For example, returning to our early thirties parallel, we find the great Lovers' Suicide Rage of 1932-34. On May 10, 1932, the newspapers reported the suicide of Chosho Goro, a Keio University student, and his sweetheart Yaeko. The two had met at a Christian fellowship meeting and fallen in love, but because of class differences, marriage had been forbidden by both sets of parents. The means of death they chose was both romantic and striking. They jumped into the Sakatayama volcano above the beach at Oiso. The day after the initial news report, all of the national papers published their suicide note, in which they told (the entire nation, as it turned out) that they had died "pure in body and spirit." At Tokyo Nichi Nichi Shimbun, the copy editor had the inspiration to play up the Christian connection, publishing the note under the headline "A Love That Reached Heaven". It was the headline's brilliant balance of spirituality and barely suppressed eros, more than the actual event, which created the greatest sensation and set off the subsequent chain of events. Within days, the suicide was being re-enacted as a play by various small stage troupes using the headline as their title. Radio too picked up the story, first in editorial commentary and then as a radio drama. Record producers released a number of sentimental ballads extolling the pure love of Goro and Yaeko, and Shochiku film company announced it would produce *A Love That Reached Heaven*, with Gosho Heinosuke as director.By this time, the surge of copy-cat suicides (i.e. the "clustering effect") had begun . From mid-May, several couples a day were climbing the slopes of Sakatayama to throw themselves into the volcano....

Now, with the movie, their numbers doubled. At the movie theaters, usherettes had to patrol the aisles as young couples had taken to drinking poison during the showing. By the end of the year, there had been hundreds of suicides. After a brief lull, the Lover`s Suicide Rage flared anew. On January 9 (1933), a pair of school girls climbed Miharayama volcano on Oshima Island, a short ferry trip from Tokyo, and, holding hands, jumped in. The first copy-cat suicides began three days later. As before, the press reacted with sensationalist irresponsibility. Pictures of young lovers creeping up the slope arm-in-arm were published with syrupy thanatopic captions.When the rage finally subsided for good in March, a total of 944 young people had perished in the Miharayama crater.....

...Clearly, they were all sagas of death, and were therefore thematically linked. To recognize this, we need only realize that the issue of Fascism ("fassho") was just then dominating public discourse. The connection , I think, was made most apparent in a comment by German director Karl Ritter a few years later, about the intention of his own fascist/Nazi films: "I want to impress upon our youth the transcendent value of apparently meaningless death."

For those who feel it inappropriate to suddenly drag in evidence from a foreign source, one could re-explain the issue within a purely "native" context. The Lovers' Suicide Rage became a successful minor key counterpoint incident by being "sublimed" (in both the alchemical and the literal sense) into a parable of surpassing "beauty." And, to continue the alchemical metaphor, the Philosopher's Stone was the early-on Nichinichi Shimbun headline: "The Love that Reached Heaven"...and that patriotism was seen as another form of that same vaulting love.

OK, so what Mr. High seems to be suggesting here is that media (including cinema) somehow works in tandem with political will (or maybe even "national consciousness") to make suicide a romantic and noble act.

And, by extension, maybe pure love for your country can be extended into crashing airplanes into the ships of your country's enemies.

According to their letters home, kamikaze pilots acted out of love... a love they thought would reach heaven (different views of the afterlife notwithstanding).

So I suppose what I'm wondering is if there's some way to cut through the crap surrounding our impressions of suicide bombing (and, if it's not obvious by now, I'm taking Tower Day as an extension of the same thing), and see just how closely it could parallel the kamikaze experience. To see if it's possible to find the love of the suicide bomber.

Is there *that* close a parallel? Where *is* the love?

Any thoughts?
22:16 / 13.01.03
i spent some time in the american revolutionary war trying to find answers to this. i found many incredible things, but sadly they were more profound than this part of the equation and partly lost.

understanding the american character the way i do, i'm convinced there is much to be gleened from looking at the communication of the royalists of the time, who used essentially the same meme to attack the notion of guerrilla fighting of the time - an inhumane thing on a paralell with the "Weapons of Mass Destruction!" of today.

i think philosphically one could easy find themselves at a root argument (in the west) of, "what's the difference between a suicide bomber and jesus christ, other than their nuclear family?
Jack Fear
22:23 / 13.01.03
Um... Jesus wasn't trying to take anybody with him?
23:01 / 13.01.03
but why do we think suicide itself a bad thing?

philosophically, one could =) i know it sounds ludicrous huh?

but jesus was, in the christian tradition, the world's most important martyr. he killed himself to save us. he knew what the Romans were going to do. "that's fucking suicide" -- george carlin.

what's the difference between a suicide bomber and jesus christ?

was it that God told jesus to do so? cause i bet a few suicide bombers might make that claim too.

my point:

there's a moral foundation at work here. it's unique to circumstances eg imperial japan, or all monotheist traditions. and it has many variations, such as the variation of why would anyone bring themselves to kill another human being?

why would anyone do something so horrific? imho, it can only happen when you have decided in your own mind that it is not your own decision.

at the very base of our psycology, we either see something like suicidal bombing as something we choose to do (and subsequently suffer the consequences of, psycologically), or something we do for a higher source.

eg killing someone preemptively to protect your family.

it's why i fear absolutes with a great and careful passion, bceause the so easily go from "God is great", to "Kill all of them over there!", or "America the Great!" to "Grow our cheap fruit or we'll rape and kill you and no one will ever know or care".

suicide bombers do not think of these repurcussions as their own, they are the repurcussions of God's work and the best possible thing they can do for their cause.

my point is that it leaves with a stark example of failing to take responsiblity for our own actions, our own malice, our own free will instinctively ourselves, and sadly, most of our Ism's in this world are focused on grounding our children in the opposite intuition.

that's no slight on a notion of God, i take spirituality very seriously - it's a comment on the interpretations of her/him/it, and the result of the institutional nature of it (everywhere).
23:06 / 13.01.03
He also didn't commit suicide, technically speaking. He was executed by lawful authorities (albeit on trumped-up charges). I suppose if you buy that he was an all-powerful divine incarnation it could be said that he allowed himself to be executed, a kind of passive suicide.
00:55 / 14.01.03
fair enough, just trying ot make the deeper point. what's the difference between the two matyrs? or more importantly, what's the cause - psycologically, that critical axis along which our behavior is ultimately determined (and thus why it gets so much attention).

only 1 thing turns good people into murders, criminals, whatrever flavor of evil you care to paint... justification. the premise of justification.

in most cases, when you look at it, this justification for people comes in the form of thier most intimate spiritual beliefs - whether you're God's warrior, Darwin's Warrior, a Cold Warrior, et al.

there are many of ways of describing it, many forms of it - the effects of absolutes - and i won't pretend i'm any good at describing them or identifying them accurately, even and especially in myself.

instead i'll try to ask questions or scratch out thoughts that contextualize the dynamics at play in the hopes it makes sense at some point.

Well, that's right. I mean-- there's-- it's a-- war is a form of terrorism. I know there are people who don't like to equate-- what was done-- you know on September 11th, 2001, they don't like to equate that with a war that the United States engaged in. Sure, they're different.
But they're not different in the-- in the fundamental principal that drives the terrorists and that is, they're saying, we're going to kill a lot of people but it will be worth it. We're trying to do something. We're trying to accomplish something. They-- the terrorists are not killing people just for the sake of killing people, they have some end in mind. To show that the American empire is vulnerable or to make some point about American policy in the Middle East. But they have an end in mind. We are doing the same thing. I mean, as I say, the details are different, but we are willing to kill a lot of people for some political end that we have declared.

-- Howard Zinn, interview
02:31 / 15.01.03
I respect Zinn, but he's got it backwards: terrorism is a form of war, but the reverse isn't true. Western armies target other armies but try to leave civilians out of it. Enemy soldiers can also surrender and go home as civilians as soon as the war is over. Terrorists define "combatant" much more broadly, often including their own people, for "collaboration," or sympathetic liberals on the other side, as ETA and the Red Brigades have done.

Two things the kamikaze pilots and modern suicide bombers have in common are desperation and general ineffectiveness. The kamikaze program didn't start until the spring of 1945, when the war was lost, and the US Navy quickly evolved a defense. Likewise, the suicide bombers; there's no Palestinian militia to take on the IDF, and the bombers aren't making much of a dent in them either. Bin Laden's boys killed 2800 people, but they cost their friends the Taliban an entire country and strengthened the hand of the cops in the target countries, so add possible backfire to the list of drawbacks of terrorism.

I don't think it's profitable to lump suicide attacks with suicide outbreaks. The latter are mass hysteria, most often fed by mass media (the Werther Effect, after the suicide wave accompanying Goethe's 1774 novel). The former are induced, according to policy on the part of non-suicidal leaders.
16:47 / 15.01.03
He also didn't commit suicide, technically speaking. He was executed by lawful authorities (albeit on trumped-up charges). I suppose if you buy that he was an all-powerful divine incarnation it could be said that he allowed himself to be executed, a kind of passive suicide.

"Take from me this cup."
"Put away your swords."
I dunno - if you buy the divinity of Christ (the Christ narrative), then you buy the fact that he knew what was going on, embraced His execution, and did what He could to help the process along.

Two things the kamikaze pilots and modern suicide bombers have in common are desperation and general ineffectiveness. The kamikaze program didn't start until the spring of 1945, when the war was lost, and the US Navy quickly evolved a defense.

This might be true, but within the article I quote, the guy points out that one of the contributing factors to the suicide wave was coverage of the Noble Heroes sacrificing themselves on battlefields in China.

Here's the passage:

For the subsequent Shanghai Incident of spring 1932, which developed into military conflict too quickly for the press to emplot it in the above manner, the incident was given "transcendent" significance by digging out extraordinary examples of self-sacrificial valor displayed by individuals or small groups of military men involved in the fighting there.The narrative category for such exemplary incidents is as ancient as the medieval era senki-mono, such military histories as the Taiheiki etc. This was the BIDAN (lit. "beautiful tale"). Before coming upon the single ideal bidan for the Incident, we find the press almost daily putting forward various candidates in the form of little front page accounts of "brave deaths" on the battlefields to the north and west of the city. The one they finally settled involved three youing men who died while trying to blow up enemy barbed wire defenses. Tokyo Nichinichi immediately dubbed them "Our Three Human Bomb Patriots" (Bakudan Sanyushi), while ASsahi used the term "Three Flesh-bullet Patriots" (Nikudan Sanyushi); it is usually under the latter name that they are referred to in the history books. Within weeks, the Flesh-bullet Three became the subject of radio plays, "quickie" (kiwamono) movies, rakugo routines and even full-scale stage plays.

Whether or not it *works*, it obviously *happens*.

The latter are mass hysteria, most often fed by mass media (the Werther Effect, after the suicide wave accompanying Goethe's 1774 novel). The former are induced, according to policy on the part of non-suicidal leaders.

I'm not sure suicide attacks can be "induced" without already being part of the culture - without being a recognized motif within the national narrative.
17:46 / 15.01.03
Here are some links on the "Shanghai Incident":



Detailed chronology

American involvement.
18:55 / 15.01.03
zinn's quote was made for context of the dynamic i speak of, not because i wanted to assert the specific point or wanted to discuss it (although i do personally agree).

how do you motivate people who do not murder, to be willing to kill? you make something bigger than them.

they won't risk life and limb for your political success, but they will for Their Country, God, et al.

i do not readily accept the notion that terrorism is not a noble form of warfare, where carpet-bombing or artillery shelling is. more civilian populations have died at the hand of noble western armies than any other, and in magnitudes that are staggering.

war does not occur in a vacuum either, it requires aggression to exist. and when aggresors use terrorism to create the circumstances of war because it benefits their poltical objectives, to then turn around and accuse their opposites of a lack of morality when they do the same thing back, however depsrately, is the height of hypocrisy imho.

but that's what this century is going to be all about i fear. because you can't shift people's moral foundations without serious trauma being incurred.

the real war in humanity is hawk vs dove, imho. just like positivity, they are only as available as people would aspire to, and so long as there exists a reason to worship the Hawk in society, there will be billions of young aspiring Hawks in each new generation.

that's what i believe, so to try and paint any kind of contextual justification for the noble Hawk reads to me as rationalization (not that anyone here is). which is so human it's beautiful, the way any child's mistake is still beautiful to their parents.

i think this is the kind of thing Zinn is trying to fight. you'll notice he wasn't exactly precise in his language in that interview, and that's largely because we don't have a lot of precise language for it.

the Hawk is institutionalized, especially in capitlaism, which relies on it's philosphical constructs - preemptive exploitation. (i don't think that's a bad thing, btw, in a free market context. what's bad is withholding that knowledge from the public unless they get in the right schools/organizations first.)
18:03 / 12.12.03
Might it be worth another stab at examining the figure of the Suicide Bomber given the news that the phenomenon has been embraced by the Iraqi resistance?
Harold Washington died for you
19:36 / 12.12.03
I think the suicide bombing in the middle east is more for the benefit of the average Palestinian or Iraqi than military strategy. The bomber factions are all working their own, internal, political angles while fighting the enemy. Whoever is buying the bombs has a definite interest in making the resistance fighters look completely balls-out insane.

The suicide bombing is also a very easy out for the depressed guy or gal who wants to die. A mighty cop-out for hateriotism.
Linus Dunce
02:05 / 13.12.03
Suicide bombing does look "balls-out insane" and that's very effective in terrorising people. But I think there's more to it than that. The average terrorist group lacks the funding and resources of a state army. Suicide bombing is a good solution because the combined delivery and trigger mechanism is very accurate, at least as accurate as the latest GPS-guided weapon. Furthermore, it can stay armed and active for extended periods, making for very flexible mission planning. At the same time it is inexpensive, cheap to fuel and easily replaceable. All you have to do is program it (death==honour) for a single, simple mission. Simple deskilling and cheap at twice the price.
18:32 / 13.12.03
News report: The Simon Wiesenthal Center has launched a campaign to have suicide bombing recognized as a "crime against humanity," like genocide.
17:12 / 19.07.05
Coincidentally, after looking up this thread yesterday because of the pertinence to this thread on religion & terrorism, today NPR ran this piece on the history of suicide attacks in terrorism.

It's an interview with the fellow who wrote this book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism. His name is Robert Pape, and he traces "suicide terrorism" all the way back to 1 AD -- Jewish zealots who'd kill Roman soldiers in front of other Roman soldiers, who'd immediately execute them.

Followed by Ishmaili assassins in the 1200s, who'd kill enemy leaders knowing that the guards would in turn kill them.

These are all one-on-one, though.

The interview spends a lot of time on the kamikaze "campaign," which started in October of 1944, and on Hezbollah, who launched the modern suicide bombing thing in the 1980s when Israel occupied Lebanon. By suicide-truck bombing an American base in Lebanon, they got Reagan to pull out troops -- proving that, as Pape says, "suicide terrorism pays."
18:21 / 19.07.05
I'm generally suspicious of "this happened, because this happened" conclusions - the US seems generally to believe that the (non-suicide) bombings in Madrid persuaded Spain to pull out of Iraq, for example.
Char Aina
23:02 / 19.07.05
During the Crusades, the Knights Templar destroyed one of their own ships, killing 140 Christians in order to kill ten times as many Muslims. Another early example of suicide bombing occurred during the Belgian Revolution, when the Dutch Lt. Jan van Speijk detonated his own ship in the harbour of Antwerp to prevent being captured by Belgians.

i had heard this before and was tryingto get a link to a site with more information but unfortunately, all i could find was the above.

from here
as you ca see, there isnt much information.
i read about it in a newspaper recently aas well, but i can find no useful reference to it online.
is this the first instance of suicide bombing?
is it proven history?
it certainly would make it harder to claim that the phenomenon is alien to western or christian tradition.
unheimlich manoeuvre
02:49 / 20.07.05
toksik this partially supports it. (May be worth asking The resistable rise of Reidcourchie as I think ze was doing an MA on the christian military orders.)

The Nieuwe Kerk contains three more tombs of naval heroes: Admiral Jan van Galen (1654, after a design by Artus Quellien, executed by Rombout Verhulst and Willem de Keyser), Admiral Van Kinsbergen and Lieutenant Jan van Speijk, who blew himself and his ship up in 1831 in the harbour of Antwerp to avoid falling into the enemy’s hands.

May 14, 2005 The Guardian
Honour and martyrdom
Suicide bombing isn't as new or alien as westerners imagine.

Even more closely related to Iraq's suicide bombers is the fascinating description of early Christian martyrdom in Farhad Khosrokhavar's new book, Suicide Bombers. The suicidal recklessness of a large number of early Christians, aimed precisely at bringing about their martyrdom, bewildered and horrified contemporary commentators. But martyrdom was an astonishingly effective propaganda tool designed to inspire awe - and converts. The Greek origin of the word martyr is "witness". Interestingly, it prompted exactly the same sorts of criticism among pagan Romans as today's Islamist militants do in the west: the Christian martyrs were accused of dementia and irrationality. Such was the flood of Christians in pursuit of martyrdom by the third century that the theologians had to step in to declare this thirst for a holy death to be blasphemous."
20:41 / 21.07.05
Here's a 2001 interview with a suicide bomber, done by the Arab press. The man is a Palestinian, apparently eager for his mission.

Note that although he's given an opportunity to discuss Judaism (religion), he consistenly refers to his role in terms of combating Zionism (political movement). He may have been (probably was) coached extensively to reply that way, but still -- significant.
Francine I
21:37 / 21.07.05
That's a good point, grant. The religious concept of 'Jihad' (or at least the modern extrapolation of it) does not necessarily have to be religious in a bi-directional sense. In fact, it can be religious in a very abstract way; a political movement can your right to practice your religion as you see fit by threatening your religious community for entirely non-religious reasons - it's still a Jihad, and yet those taking part are as far as I can tell keenly aware that the conflict exists on a more political or social level. It seems to me that in most variations of "suicide bombing", martyrdom plays an important role as well.
12:50 / 22.07.05
Shouldn't we also be looking at military campaigns such as the Somme where soldiers ran straight into machine gun fire and certain death? Why isn't that sort of thing seen in the same way as suicide bombings or kamikaze pilots? If I'm going to certain death surely it's more rational for me to at least choose an option where I'm going to kill some of the enemy rather than just throw my life away for nothing?
Regrettable Juvenilia
13:12 / 22.07.05
Why isn't that sort of thing seen in the same way as suicide bombings or kamikaze pilots?

Because that was our brave boys, nobly facing certain death for the sake of our great country!

Not at all like those crazed fanatics and their heathen death-cults.

Seriously, though: yeah, because that was 'us' and 'we' are not like 'them'. We have understandable, rational motives. They are mad zealots. Comparing the two is the worst crime a liberal pinko fifth columnist can commit, and there's a term for it: "moral equivalence".
14:06 / 22.07.05
Surely at the Somme and other such battles you were ordered by those in charge to go over the top to provide cannon fodder? If you refused, you'd often be shot for disobediance, sometimes without the "benefit" of court marshall. I don't see much choice in that. Might as well risk an "honourable" injury by obeying orders...
Char Aina
14:57 / 22.07.05
just thinking out loud, but isn that worse?
'kill yourself or we'll kill you' vs 'kill yorself if you're up for it'?
pro patria mori sounds more and more twisted the more you look at it.
15:18 / 22.07.05
Also, the Somme was a strategic engagement involving large numbers of armed men charging at large numbers of other armed men, with the aim of taking or defending strategic objectives. Casualties were inordinately high, but it wasn't in itself an untraditional engagement in the planning stages.

That's the difference between "it's suicide" as a metaphor and "it's suicide" as a statement. Strapping a load of bombs to yourself and then blowing it up is suicide. Attacking a heavily-defended position in the company of a large number of fellow combatants may be a very bad idea, but is not actually suicide. Arguably it is homicide on the part of the commanding officers, mind, but that's another metaphor.

Strappigna load of bombs to yourself and blowing yourself up in order to facilitate the breaching of a heavily-defended position? That's a bit complex...

(Court Martial, btw)
15:25 / 22.07.05
Had a feeling the spelling was wrong....

I remember reading an article somewhere which included an interview with the sister of an American soldier who had been killed in Iraq. He apparently had no thoughts on whether the war was just but simply lived by the mantra "My country, right or wrong". He'd been in the army from a young age, had all but deified the President and was prepared to die for his country. Essentially he appeared to have beem moulded by the military (think Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket - "I'm a lean mean killing machine") and an all embracing flag-waving patriotism.

Now I don't think he had any religious leanings but surely it's not a great leap to take this type of near-automatic behaviour and extend it, by way of some choice morsels of religious dogma, to include a somewhat less conventional way to die for your country (at least in the west) - death by suicide (bomb)???
Michelle Gale
18:53 / 22.07.05
That's the difference between "it's suicide" as a metaphor and "it's suicide" as a statement. Strapping a load of bombs to yourself and then blowing it up is suicide. Attacking a heavily-defended position in the company of a large number of fellow combatants may be a very bad idea, but is not actually suicide. Arguably it is homicide on the part of the commanding officers, mind, but that's another metaphor.

I dont think this thread is purley about the cold hard reductionist analysis of of what as suicide bomber is House, are you not being rather pedantic, I think metaphor is a pretty important means to understanding the suicide bomber mentality. As in the west we have very few referance points to understanding that kind of behavior. I think many people find it scary (myself included) that someone beleives in something enough to commit suicide and take others with them. That kind of beleif in something other than self interest I honestly cant completely understand that mindset, it is almost completly alien. but ultimatly that viewppoint is (very arguably) just as valid as my own.
Char Aina
19:08 / 22.07.05
As in the west we have very few referance points to understanding that kind of behavior.

i would disagree.
we have many instances of dying or doomed people being saved by an act of self sacrifice by one of their number.
in the movies, our portal to the world.

"you go. someone needs to stay here to detonate the bomb."

*cue atmospheric hero music*
20:18 / 22.07.05
I dont think this thread is purley about the cold hard reductionist analysis of of what as suicide bomber is House, are you not being rather pedantic

No, I don't think I am. I'm establishing conceptual distinctions. If you find it too pedantic, I suggest you put me on ignore, because it's a level of depth I think is appropriate to the Switchboard, and I would be surprised if the moderators disagreed.

Toksik makes a good point - the noble acceptance of death in order to further the ends of a group enterprise is a classic western motif. Difference? Not a huge one, I think, if you assume that the aim of the suicide bomber is the furtherance of a group enterprise - perhaps the problem is that the enterprise is longer-term and political rather than immediate (take the ridge, escape from the castle). Also that that trope is primarily, although not exclusively, a fictional one - we don't tend to encounter it, or need to encounter it, in everyday life.

Which is maybe why the suicide bbomber is so scary - it's the sudden relocation of the battlefront to one's own home city.
Tryphena Absent
23:37 / 22.07.05
Which is maybe why the suicide bomber is so scary - it's the sudden relocation of the battlefront to one's own home city.

I think it's far simpler than this and less psychological. No person who is kind can go up to someone on the tube and accuse them of carrying a bomb, you can't ask to see the inside of their bag, you can't know if a person is carrying a bomb or not by glancing at them. A suspect package can be got rid of, you can spot it but you can't spot a suicide bomber and that is what's so scary about having them in a city as big and overpopulated as London. I don't think it's the idea of noble sacrifice, the idea of the city as a battleground, I don't find the mentality of a suicide bomber particularly frightening, it's the fact you cannot counteract the bombs before they explode, you don't know and to accuse would be hysterical, unreasonable and biased.
Our Lady Has Left the Building
11:13 / 23.07.05
I'm not sure it's useful discussing Jesus in terms of this thread when we can't source any material on him and his actions as pure biographic fact.

Anyway, just wanted to toss in a mention of Newsnight last night. A sadly wasted exercise in trying to consider the mindset of the suicide bomber, in terms of violent groups such as the IRA and the Baader-Meinhof Group, where groupthink overrides 'common sense' and reinforces violent feelings.
10:43 / 25.07.05
I agree that my use of the Somme wasn't a perect example but it was the first one that came to mind. I was just raising the point that there exist numerous examples in Western culture of noble sacrifice to achieve an aim, be it strategic or personal, so it would seem that the mindset is accepted as rational pretty much universally, as long as you look at it through the appropriate lens.
17:22 / 25.07.05
I think I might also make a distinction between soldiers battling at the Somme and suicide bombers on a train simply because, even if you take the stance that the soldiers have been enlisted rather than have volunteered, all parties know and understand that they are in the process of fighting.

Other people travelling on a train are for the most part not engaged in a war with the suicide bomber and are not actively fighting it even though the bomber believes them to be doing so. So I'm not sure they can really be compared.

Is there another western example?
21:28 / 25.07.05
There are plenty of easily recalled Western examples of treating civilians as war targets. Hiroshima, Dresden, etc. And in terms of general not-following-the-war-rules we could always look at the Geneva convention being trodden on in Iraq as we speak.
17:59 / 26.07.05
The killing of non-combatants is forbidden by Islam

The four schools of Islamic law expressly forbid the harming of noncombatants. These include women, children, monks and hermits, the aged, blind and insane. In the most authoritative collection of Hadith, the Sahih al-Bukhari (The Book of Jihad, chapters 147-147, Hadiths 257-258), Muhammad expressly disapproves and then forbids the slaying of women and children. "A woman was found killed during one of the Apostle of God’s battles, so the Apostle of God forbade the killing of women and children." This message is found in a number of authoritative collections and has been formalized in the legal literature. Islam also expressly forbids suicide, the punishment for which is eternal reenactment of the act and revisitation of the pain. Sahih al-Bukhari (K. Jana’iz 82:445-446) has the following on the authority of the Prophet: "Whoever commits suicide with a piece of iron will be punished with the same piece of iron in Hell. Whoever commits suicide by throttling shall keep on throttling himself in Hell [forever], and whoever commits suicide by stabbing shall keep on stabbing himself in Hell [forever]." excerpt from this This
is an interesting convesation on a Muslim forum, not too deep but it does show some interesting things.

Death of the Iman

I'll keep looking for some other links

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