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CIAO Focus, June 2007:
Suicide Terrorism

Source: Institute for Research:
Middle East Policy

The 1983 Hizballah attack on the U.S. marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon is often cited as the first act of modern suicide terrorism, but there are in fact earlier examples of such missions. The Japanese government, for instance, sent kamikaze pilots to terrorize the U.S. Pacific fleet towards the end of WW II. During the Vietnam War, NFL cadres (known pejoratively as Viet Cong) occasionally blew themselves up amongst American soldiers. And beginning in 1980, the Ayatollah Khomeini sent countless young boys to the front to die as martyrs during Iran's eight year war with Iraq. Hence, governments as well as dissident groups have resorted to suicide terrorism during the 20th century, and the perpetrators were not necessarily Muslim.

In 1987, Sri Lanka's Tamil Tiger guerrillas began suicide missions to advance their cause of securing an independent state, and Hamas launched its first suicide attacks against Israel in 1993. Perhaps the world's most notorious terrorist act, the dual attacks on New York and Washington DC, was orchestrated by Al-Qaeda in 2001.

According to one source, more than 80 percent of all suicide bombings around the world since 1968 have occurred after the 9/11 attacks, and that the vast majority of dissident groups carrying out these attacks today are proponents of militant Islam.

This month CIAO examines suicide terrorism.


From the CIAO Database:

When Suicide Bombing Reaches the Tipping Point

Low Intensity Conflict: Violence Against the Iraqi People

Suicide Terrorism and Democracy: What We've Learned Since 9/11

Human Bombs: Rethinking Religion and Terror

Mishandling Suicide Terrorism

Outside Sources:

Suicide Terrorism: A Global Threat (Jane's Intelligence Review)

The Roots of Suicide Terrorism: A Multi-Causal Approach

The Logic of Suicide Terrorism (The Atlantic)

Wide Angle: Suicide Bombers (PBS video)


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