July 14, 2005


The truth is coming out. The alleged four London suicide bombers are young, second generation British and Muslim. Amongst them three are confirmed as of Pakistan origin. They had the profiles like your neighborhood 'family man' or 'a cricketer'. So what has turned them into a killing machine is a mystery.

The history of self sacrificing is rather long. From the earliest days fallen soldiers were honored as heroes. In World War II, the Japanese Kamikaze bombers used aero planes as flying bombs. The first modern suicide bombing was evident in Lebanon in 1981. The guerilla groups that employed suicide bombings in recent decades include the Viet Minh, Kurdistan Workers Party, Tamil Tigers, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade and the Japanese Red Army.

Most experts agree suicide bombers are not lunatics. They are usually rational idealists who are prepared to die for what they believe is the greater good of their society. These acts are seen by Islamists and Tamils alike as instances of martyrdom, and should be understood as such. Its implementation generally requires at least six separate operations: target selection, intelligence gathering, recruitment, physical and 'spiritual' training, preparation of explosives, and transportation of the suicide bombers to the target area. After the bombings the police and intelligence forces generally concentrate on the 5th & 6th stage of the operation. People do not have much information about the first four stages.

Kush Tandon has a hypothesis called the terror bee equation which can lead us to the first four stages of a suicide bombing operation:

Terror Bee Equation = Poverty X Exponential (Sense of Being Disenfranchised or No Hope) + Lack of Progress + Lack of Democratic Institutions + Cultural Trappings + Lack of Visionary Leaders (Mandela, Gandhi, King in Middle East)

Most Arab terrorists are well-educated, married men from middle- or upper-class families, in their mid-20s and psychologically stable. High profile acts are committed by "elitist, richer" Arabs but most of their foot work is done by orphans in Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, and Pakistan. The only difference between radical Islam and radical versions of other religions is that they are finding recruitment very easy.

And why mostly the Arab countries are generating these terrorists? Between 1980 and 1999 the nine leading Arab economies registered 370 patents (in the U.S.) for new inventions. Patents are a good measure of a society's education quality, entrepreneurship, rule of law and innovation. During that same 20-year period, South Korea alone registered 16,328 patents for inventions. Its the issue of social advancement. You don't run into a lot of South Koreans who want to be martyrs.

But where do these Pakistani-British recruits fit in? Abhi of Sepia Mutiny analyzes a film "My son the fanatic" which portrays the struggle of the Asian immigrants in an alien society which refuses to accept them, treat them as equals and the ways in which they deal with the alienation. Its a growing debate how these youths were lured into suicidal acts. Personal accounts suggest how Asians are treated in England and every Asian is a 'Paki' to the skinheads. So that may have lead to their alienation and people can speculate that:

The unrest that is transformed into hatred all starts with the news of Islam being suppressed, treated unfairly and from the feeling that Islamic peoples across the globe are under attack. Islam is seemingly under attack from the US to the Middle East and inwards to India (even China suppresses Islam and holds innocent leaders in jail). The results of suppression, the fruit of the seeds of unrest, bloom in blood in the mosques where men like Tanveer are changed, fundamentally and internally, into soldiers of a spiritual war by the ideology preached by the leaders of their faith. The belief that war is the only way to call to attention and change the fate of Islam around the globe becomes the only solution to a growing problem.

Kush has a final thought:

The sense of alienation need not be limited to non-democratic societies but also come from people within democratic and free societies, as recent London Bombings seems to indicate. I also think that this malaise is not related to a religion, it could happen to any of them over time.

Yes, unless we understand the grounds which make a suicide bomber and do something drastically in unison to prevent these, the next suicide bomber is looming somewhere near us, where ever we are.

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