Terroism & Suicide Bombers Essay
Terroism & Suicide Bombers
Terrorism/Suicide Bombers Social norms play a key role on how people should behave and act in groups or societies. If an individual were to abandon these norms, others will criticize the individual for doing so. To learn and understand these social norms, social interaction is very important. Robert Brym (2012) states that “social interaction is of such fundamental importance that, without it, individuals would not be able to develop a sense of identity, an idea that they are” (p. 49). This also applies to suicide bombers. Some counties, believe that these deviant acts are justified in the Middle East and used to achieve political goals.
Using the work from Robert Brym (2012) and Kevin Peraino (2008), this paper will show how psychopathology, clash of civilization, deprivation, and differential association, were introduced as theories on explaining the motives of suicide bombers. History of Suicide Attacks The history on the use of suicide attacks by terrorist dates back to ancient times. Terrorist suicide attacks are not a new method but are a very old method of operation. Before the late nineteenth century, suicide attackers used hand weapons to kill their victims in public places to assure publicity of their act.
In World War 2, suicide attacks called Kamikaze were incorporated by the Japanese Empire, when a pilot crashes the plane into a target, as a way of showing pride and honour for the Empire. After the invention of dynamite in the late nineteenth century, terrorists began using bombs in their attacks. This method of attack made it easier for terrorists to achieve their goals. For example, with the old method of using hand weapons, the suicide attacks got harder when the target had some sort of protection.
However, with the new method of using bombs, even if the target has protection, the suicide bomber only has to get the target within the blast radius and blow up. Hence, suicide attacks using bombs made it easier for terrorists to achieve their goals. Psychopathology Although psychopathology was not a criminological or sociological theory learned in class, it was still the first well-known explanation proposed. Psychologist introduced psychopathology because of an incident that involved a suicide bombing on the U. S. Marine barrack in Beirut in 1983, which a sole survivor saw the face of the bomber (Brym, 2012). He looked right at me and smile,” the survivor recalls (Brym, 2012, p. 37). The western observers quickly passed a verdict that “people who are willing to blow themselves up to kill others must be abnormal, and if they die happily they must surely be deranged” (Brym, 2012, p. 37). The Beirut bomber was characterized as an unstable individual with a death wish by several psychologists, although they lacked of evidence of the bomber’s state of mind (Brym, 2012). Similarly, “following the September 11, 2001, suicide attacks on the United States, U. S. overnment and media emphasis the supposed irrationality and insanity of the bomber, again without the proper supporting data” (Brym, 2012, p. 37). With such claims, destined suicide bombers were interviewed and reconstruction of the biographies of successful suicide bombers does not show a higher rate of psychopathology than the general population (Brym, 2012). To support this statement, a study was conducted of all 462 suicide bombers between 1980 and 2003, and found not a single case of depression, psychosis, past suicide attempts, and so forth (Brym, 2012).
Evidence collected by other experts actually shows that recruits were pulled out if they displayed signs of pathological behaviour for the organizational security (Brym, 2012). Hence, the explanation of suicide bombers based on psychopathology is no help to understand the rise of suicide bombing in the world. Deprivation Brym (2012) presents “the second explanation of suicide bombers based on the deprivation theory which characterizes the perpetrator” (p. 38). From this perspective, the actions of suicide bombers are caused by extreme deprivation, either absolute or relative. Absolute deprivation refers to a long-standing poverty and unemployment, while relative deprivation is the growth of an intolerable gap between what people expect out of life and what they get” (Brym, 2012, p. 38). Presumably, some people are driven to commit self-destructive acts of aggression against the known source of their suffering because of their deprivation (Brym, 2012). However, evidence collected does not support the deprivation theory. Between 1980 and 2003, 30 percent of Arab suicide bombers were more educated than the general populations and typically a working middle class person (Brym, 2012).
Peraino’s (2008) interview of the family of Ashraf al-Hasadi would be a great example on why the theory does not apply. Ashraf was 18 years old and already had a job, a car and an apartment, which are desired by others in Darnah (Brym, 2012). However, in the summer of 2007, Ashraf went to Iraq without telling his family (Brym, 2012). When Peranio (2008) asked the family “what the cause of his action was”, they replied back saying that Ashraf became “too religious” and watched a lot of news on the war going on in Iraq.
Hence, neither of the absolute or relative deprivation theories were the cause of Ashraf’s action, but from another reason. Clash of Civilization The third explanation is also not a theory learned in class like psychopathology; however is relevant to explaining suicide bombers. The explanation that focused on the individual characteristics began to fray in the late 1980s because of the lack of evidence to support them (Brym, 2012). The third theory was known as “clash of civilization”, which was proposed by analysts and social scientists to demonstrate cultural differences between Islam and western societies (Brym, 2012). From their point of view, Islamic culture inclines Muslims to fanatic hatred of the West, violence, and, in the extreme case, suicide attacks” (Brym, 2012, p. 39). However, the “clash of civilization” thesis contradicted the public opinion polls which showed Arabs in the Middle East hold strong favorable attitudes toward American cultures (Brym, 2012). They only hold strong negative attitudes toward American Middle East policies, thus Brym (2012) argues that “this is less evidence of a clash of civilizations than a deep political disagreement” (p. 9). Nor is there any connection between Islam and suicide bombers; these deviant acts are actually outside the cultural norms of Islamic people (Brym, 2012). Differential Association In the late 1990s, analyzes on suicide attacks started to shift, which scholars began to view suicide attacks as strategically rational political action (Brym, 2012). “With Robert Pape’s studies of all 462 suicide bombings between 1980 and 2003, this school of thought was given a strong empirical basis of support” (Brym, 2012, p. 40).
Pape concluded that every suicide campaign since the early 1980s has shared one objective, which was to press a foreign state to withdraw its military forces and policies from their homeland (Brym, 2012). Sutherland`s differential association theory, when crime is learned from interaction with others, can be applied towards Pape’s conclusion on the intervention of foreign states. Suicide groups in the Middle East act in violence because of their disapproval of the foreign policies and military enforced on their homeland (Brym, 2012).
On the bases of differential association, a person who shares the same view is welcome to join the group and will later be taught to become deviant for the organization’s purpose (Brym, 2012). For example, the city of Darnah had two major incidents in the past, the battle of 1805 with the United States and the death of Omar al-Mukhtar, Muslim holy warrior, from the Italian army during World War 2 (Peranio, 2008). When Peranio (2008) visited Darnah, he noticed that the cult of Omar al-Mukhtar was more visible throughout the city than the president of Libya and the hatred towards the Americans still existed.
Peranio (2008) later discovers that the residents of Darnah viewed the Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein, as the same image as their hero, Omar al-Mukhtar. With already the bad relationship from before, when the Americans attacked Iraq and executed of Saddam, the people of Darnah were outraged with the Americans. Therefore, providing, Darnah resident, reasons to interact with Iraq’s foreign fighters and learn to fight against Americans. Brym’s Theory Byrm (2012) and one of his PhD students personally collected data on all 138 suicide bombings that occurred in Israel.
After viewing this information, Brym (2012) was interested in three issues; bombers motives, organizations rationales, and event precipitants, then classified the three casual mechanisms as either “proactive” or “reactive”. Reactive causes are when a government’s action(s) evoke suicide attacks from certain groups and proactive causes are political, religious or ideological events that evoke suicide attacks without provocation from the government (Brym, 2012). Brym (2012) found the great majority of the suicide attacks in Israel were reactive causes from Palestinians.
Hence, “suicide bombers did not give up their lives for a grand rational strategy, but to avenge the killing of someone close to them, as retribution for specific attacks against the Palestinian people, or as payback for perceived attacks against Islam” (Brym, 2012, p. 43). In conclusion, in the Middle East, suicide attacks are outside the social norms and viewed as a deviant behavior, even though there are high rates of suicide bombings. Most theories introduced by experts has failed on the explaining the rise of suicide bombers in the 1980s.
The assumption of psychopathology for being the cause of suicide attacks was quickly defeated because of the lack of evidence to prove the mind state of suicide bombers. Absolute and relative deprivation did have some support when first introduced, however studies showed that this was false, consequently losing all creditability. The “clash of civilization” theory was viewed in a sociological point of view, but also failed on explaining suicide bombers. Differential Association was the only theory that seemed to apply toward suicide bombers because of their social environment.
Suicide bomber’s social environment had been affected by foreign intervention, therefore leading them to approach terrorist organizations and learn deviant ways, suicide bombing, to get revenge. Hence, Brym (2012) and Peranio (2008) concludes their work by stating that revenge and retribution was the main reason for suicide bombing. Reference Robert J. Brym (2012). Sociology as a Life or Death Issue. Toronto: Nelson Education Ltd. Thio, A. , Calhoun, T. C. , & Conyers, A. (2008). Readings in deviant behavior. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon Publishers.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 27 May 2018
Our customer support team is available Monday-Friday 9am-5pm EST. If you contact us after hours, we'll get back to you in 24 hours or less.