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Thread: Suicide Attacks: weapon of the future?

  1. #141
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    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,534185,00.html

    "GARDEZ, Afghanistan — Suspected Taliban militants armed with bombs, rifles and rocket-propelled grenades launched near-simultaneous assaults Tuesday on Afghan and U.S. facilities in two eastern cities, killing six Afghan police and intelligence officers.
    ..............
    Militants, some of them wearing explosive belts and disguised in women's burqa robes, launched the attacks in late morning, storming the governor's compound, the intelligence department and the police department in Gardez and the U.S.-run airfield in Jalalabad about 90 miles to the northeast.
    .............
    A Taliban spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, claimed responsibility for the attacks. He said 15 militants — all in suicide vests — took part in the Gardez attacks, but officials said they believed all the assailants were killed. "

  2. #142
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    Default How Baida Wanted to Die

    A chilling read from the NYT Magazine on female suicide bombers:

    IT IS DIFFICULT to learn much about suicide bombers since there is rarely anything left of them. In Diyala, however, because there have been so many bombers who were women, the police have been driven to study the phenomenon, developing a nuanced and thoughtful picture of women who resolve to kill themselves. It was with the help of the police, who were willing to give me access to some of the would-be bombers, that I reported this piece. In particular, working with my interpreter, an Iraqi woman who was trained as a social worker, I was able to have long and even intimate conversations with two of the women in police custody. Police officers were able to corroborate much of what they said.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/16/ma...de-t.html?_r=1

  3. #143
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default My area of operations

    Quote Originally Posted by Granite_State View Post
    A chilling read from the NYT Magazine on female suicide bombers:

    This story is a very important one to consider. This was my area of operations. I've written about Zaganiyah, but I haven't really talked about Abu Sayda or Mukisa yet. Abu Sayda is a Shia enclave with ties to Baghdad and Iran. Mukisa and Qubbah were the political, judicial, and religious headquarters of the ISI in the DRV. Additionally, Saddam used to recruit his Fedayeen from Mukisa.

    I'm not sure why Major Hosham left out a couple of details. He is a Tamimi and a Shia so he has his own perogatives or maybe they were just lost in translation.

    The women started blowing themselves up about a year after I left. Neither Rayna nor Baida were particularly religious. In fact, from what I understand, Rayna doesn't believe in God. They acted out of hate and revenge.

    This was just one of the secondary and tertiary effects that occured after the Surge one that I have no I idea on how to fix or cope much less comprehend.

    I've spoken with several sociologist and defense analysis experts about this phenomena; however, most take the data as outliers. I disagree. Yes, maybe, in terms of Iraq it is an outlier, but if you examine the empirical evidence prior to 2003, the numbers become important. Moreover, it demonstrates a morphing or evolution of the suicide bomber. They no longer are typical radical fundamentalist.

    Baida was smiling again. “If I had not seen you before and talked to you, I would kill you with my own hands,” she said pleasantly. “Do not be deceived by my peaceful face. I have a heart of stone."
    This incident along with others left me to question the Pop-Centric COIN theory.

    How do you secure this populace?

    v/r

    Mike
    Last edited by MikeF; 09-14-2009 at 03:40 PM.

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    Council Member Abu Suleyman's Avatar
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    Anecdotal evidence is powerful, because it is illustrative and evocative. However, it is rarely generalizable, and it is difficult to extrapolate. I would point you towards Lindsey O'Rourke's Op-Ed, which is actually a summary of a piece that should be coming out soon in Security Studies.
    Audentes adiuvat fortuna
    "Abu Suleyman"

  5. #145
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Actually I read the story and found little about Baida's motivations that could be read as uniquely gender-motivated. Sure, there was something about the "freedom" she found in what she viewed as the righteous acceptance of death in the service of what she viewed as her country and religion, which perhaps might not have been as profound if she had been male. But her key motivation appears to be those old standbys: anger at foreign occupation and vengeance for her father and brothers.

  6. #146
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abu Suleyman View Post
    Anecdotal evidence is powerful, because it is illustrative and evocative. However, it is rarely generalizable, and it is difficult to extrapolate. I would point you towards Lindsey O'Rourke's Op-Ed, which is actually a summary of a piece that should be coming out soon in Security Studies.
    Good points and great link. It appears Ms. O'Rouke is going to study the issue. You are correct. It is difficult to generalize off of anecdotes; however inductive studies should not be ignored. My belief is empirical evidence supported by inductive studies often produces the strongest arguments.

    This area is personal for me as I know many of the people involved. One common current that I've observed out of the DRV is a lack of hope. There was a time when those same young girls dreamed of going to university and studying to be doctors, teachers, and lawyers. In some ways, it is just sad to see their dreams fade b/c their parents continue to fight amoungst each other.

    Additionally, I imagine their will be strong debate within the Islamic community over the use of women as martyrs. They debate just as strongly as we do here at SWJ.

    v/r

    Mike

  7. #147
    Council Member Abu Suleyman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    You are correct. It is difficult to generalize off of anecdotes; however inductive studies should not be ignored. My belief is empirical evidence supported by inductive studies often produces the strongest arguments.
    I agree. I suppose that my primary complaint with anecdotes is that they are so powerful that they can overcome actual evidence. Witness the effect of the anecdotes that returned from Tet versus the actual "net" reality on the battlefield. Humans are natural story tellers, and stories can captivate, and by themselves mislead.


    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    This area is personal for me as I know many of the people involved. One common current that I've observed out of the DRV is a lack of hope. There was a time when those same young girls dreamed of going to university and studying to be doctors, teachers, and lawyers. In some ways, it is just sad to see their dreams fade b/c their parents continue to fight amoungst each other.
    That is an interesting problem. I know that Dr. Pape argues that suicide bombing comes about because of occupation, although, I am unconvinced of his arguments completely. There have been some statistical critiques of his study, and I know that Lindsey follows in his footsteps a lot.

    However, to me the bigger question is why some individuals become suicide bombers and others do not. I spent most of my time across the river from Diyala, so am not intimately familiar but not a stranger to the issues. Indeed, the despair you talk about is common. However, the overwhelming majority of both men and women do not become suicide bombers. What then, drives the few that do?
    Audentes adiuvat fortuna
    "Abu Suleyman"

  8. #148
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    Default Background reading

    Team,

    There are several threads on suicide bombing on SWC and this one lasted awhile. I only post this as a reminder: http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...bombers&page=7

    Post 124 links to an Israeli academic who has interviewed failed Palestinian women suicide bombers.

    davidbfpo

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    One of the best overviews of this subject (in my view at least) comes from Martha Crenshaw who, in this article, does a fairly good job of knocking down both Robert Pape (Occupation theory) and Mia Bloom (Outbidding other groups theory).

    http://iis-db.stanford.edu/pubs/2194..._Terrorism.pdf

    There has been a lot of other work in this area since Pape and Bloom published in 2005. One of the better authors for explaining the motivation/ pyschological side is Anne Speckhard who comes at it from a clinical side and has done some good work on female (notable Chechen) attackers.

    (This happens to be my phd area, but I'm more focused on the organisational side than the personal motivation/radicalisation debate).

  10. #150
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abu Suleyman View Post
    However, to me the bigger question is why some individuals become suicide bombers and others do not. I spent most of my time across the river from Diyala, so am not intimately familiar but not a stranger to the issues. Indeed, the despair you talk about is common. However, the overwhelming majority of both men and women do not become suicide bombers. What then, drives the few that do?
    That's the $10,000 question. Let me know if you figure it out.

    David is right. Suicide Bombers are discussed on another thread, but I'll leave this one with one last thought. The female suicide bombers started AFTER we dismantled the ISI government, military infrastructure, training camps, and beheadings and near-genocide of the local Shia. Maybe it was b/c the AQ leadership was desperate. I dunno.

    v/r

    Mike

  11. #151
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    I, like Mike F, am tied heavily to this particular AO. I was Lieutenant Colonel Khalid al Ameri's advisor for a year from the time he was the Bn XO through the removal of two battalion commanders and a huge AO switch from Muqdadiyah to the DRV. We cleared the ground around Abu Sayda, Mukisa, Qubbah, and Zaganiyah from April-June 08 after the brave troopers of 5-73 Cav (Thanks, Mike, Phil K, and COL P) and were starting to hold it when my team left in late June.

    Mike is right about the ground. It is a Sunni area sandwiched between two large Shia areas (the Abu Sayda area and the Khalis area north-east of Baquoba). They greatly feared the Shia, the IA, and the IPs and the attacks targeted the ISF. As the ISI moved from Baghdad to Baqouba and was cleared from there, it moved into the DRV with its thick palm groves and thicker hatred of the occupiers and Shia lacky ISF. This area was one that ISI could refit in and conduct attacks to the south into Baqoubah and Khalis and to the north into Abu Sayda and Muqdadiyah. These attacks provoked the kind of sectarian violence that we saw in late 2006 and early 2007. It was so violent there that driving the MSR was an assured contact. The SCO in my squadron when asked where al Qaeda was by a visiting VIP said “Drive down that route, they’ll find you.”

    It took two full Stryker infantry companies with the battalion recon platoon and Bn HQ and an entire Iraqi Army battalion with augmentation from the brigade HQ that settled into five COPs over a 25 square kilometer area (there was more, but it was really not settled or Shia) to calm the place – not pacify it and definitely not clear it, simply prevent chaos. The IA established COPs using routes that we could control and then we launched attacks to clear the routes. We started in the south and worked north toward the river – oil-spot style. The final hold-outs were Qubbah and Mukisa. Both as Mike points out were Saddam and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi support zones. They were so deep in the palms, so far from civilization that those who would do the people of Iraq and our Soldiers harm could hide nearly indefinitely. Zarqawi nearly did. They hid because the local insurgents who supported ISI were the sons of the villagers. It was a home-grown cadre of insurgents and when they were killed during CF and IA operations, it became a blood feud. No amount of projects or assistance except in the form of security was going to solve this problem in the short run (and more than likely in the 5-10 year run).

    The manuals show a nice clean “10% over there that hate you, 80% in the middle, and 10% who are in your corner” and it was not the case there. The ratio was more like 50-40-10. It’s what created people like Rayna and Baida. It’s what enabled the insurgents hiding in the palm groves to survive – their parents bringing them food even though they knew what might happen.

    The question is what do you do then? Is it an area that you just write off? How long can you allow the enemy a support zone in which he is not disruptable? Those palm groves won’t allow for Hellfire shots, so I guess GEN Krulak’s method is out. How do you combat hatred that is near Hatfield-McCoy with the truism that “all counterinsurgencies have a half-life?”

    I know that many of these are un-answerable, but this article was a good read for me to understand what makes someone into a suicide (or homicide) bomber. There are some others (like the work of Dr Hafez – and he has video too if you don’t want to read it), but this was a good quick read.

    Scott

    And I spoke on the phone with LTC Khalid two days ago. The area is much quieter that it used to be - nearly nothing. I didn't have an interpreter and could only carry about four minutes of Arabic before my conversational skills ran out (and so did his English). Mike, I'll PM you with an update.

  12. #152
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Insight

    This thread has been dormant for sometime, but suicide attacks remain a daily event and perhaps this new book - only published in Hebrew - will offer insights.

    The Smarter Bomb: Women and Children as Suicide Bombers, with a three page introduction:http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/mal...l/ipc_e085.htm
    davidbfpo

  13. #153
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    Most tactics are being suppressed by a huge superiority of the enemy ("dominance"). The continuation of hostilities can therefore be limited to the least easily suppressed tactics, and that does obviously include suicide bombings.

    I'd say this tactic is about as relevant to the future as are conflicts with extremely different organized violence capabilities between the opponents.

  14. #154
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default It's the Occupation, Stupid

    Robert Pape has written a commentary - thanks to FP; sub-titled:
    Extensive research into the causes of suicide terrorism proves Islam isn't to blame -- the root of the problem is foreign military occupations.
    Opens with:
    Although no one wants to talk about it, 9/11 is still hurting America. That terrible day inflicted a wound of public fear that easily reopens with the smallest provocation, and it continues to bleed the United States of money, lives, and goodwill around the world. Indeed, America's response to its fear has, in turn, made Americans less safe and has inspired more threats and attacks.

    (Ends with)The United States has been great in large part because it respects understanding and discussion of important ideas and concepts, and because it is free to change course. Intelligent decisions require putting all the facts before us and considering new approaches. The first step is recognizing that occupations in the Muslim world don't make Americans any safer -- in fact, they are at the heart of the problem.
    Not surprisingly his views have attracted many comments in opposition.
    davidbfpo

  15. #155
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    Default Do "suicide bombers" really commit suicide?

    From an Israeli think tank, a short paper as yet unread:
    This article applies a psychological approach to explore and to explain the behavior of Palestinian terrorists who blow themselves up in the light of their own words. It is shown that terrorists have no suicidal intent; hence their behavior is not an act of suicide. Psychological analysis point to a behavioral reaction to stress situations that are perceived as threatening to survival, which could account for the lethal activity of the Palestinian terrorists. These findings suggest that such terrorists could be deterred if an appropriate alternative for their lives was available to them.
    Link:http://www.terrorism-info.org.il/en/article/20415
    davidbfpo

  16. #156
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    A short article 'Convincing suicide-bombers that God says no' by Professor Adam Lankford, a criminal justice professor at the University of Alabama and the author of 'The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers':http://www.opendemocracy.net/adam-la...at-god-says-no

    Link to Amazon with publishers reviews:http://www.amazon.com/Myth-Martyrdom...uctive+Killers

    those responsible for prosecuting the case against suicide-terrorism should have capitalised on a much simpler and more powerful belief that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all agree on: God disapproves of suicide. This should have been the launching point for changing perceptions about suicide-terrorism worldwide. And it still can be.
    In his research he found:
    ...many of them were clearly suicidal, in the clinical sense. In a number of cases, they openly admitted their psychological pain and deep despair in their suicide notes or “martyrdom” videos, or in the statements they made to those around them.
    Also on:http://www.newscientist.com/article/...html?full=true
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-08-2013 at 10:18 PM. Reason: Add last link
    davidbfpo

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