Discussion please consider the following comments from Ivan Strenski’s
2003 article, “Sacrifice, Gift and the Social Logic of Muslim ‘Human Bombers'”:
“Even from a strictly military point of view, it seems strategically of dubious efficiency
to undertake operations that in effect guarantee the loss of one’s fighters in every
assault. Ideally, for a movement aimed at actual military victory, it would seem to make
more sense if, instead of killing themselves in the process of making their attacks, the
‘human bombers’ could have gone on killing many more…in subsequent non-suicidal
attacks. Osama bin Laden surely continues to inspire more terror today as potentially
alive than he would have had he died in a martyrdom operation in Afghanistan…the
strictly military rationality of these operations does not seem necessarily or undividedly
the only priority of these self-inflicted deaths (pg. 3).”
One can hardly argue with this. There is a certain illogic to using humans as weapons.
To launch an offensive guaranteed to cost 100% of one’s mission personnel would not
be considered effective military strategy. We know some losses are inevitable in many
military conflicts, but here we are talking about 100% loss of personnel sent on the
mission each time a suicide bomber attack occurs. If we assume based on the statements
above that “human bombers” are not about military strategy, then what are they
about? Are they motivated by a view of themselves as reflective of jihadist perspectives
of them as being sacrifices and/or “gifts”?
Consider this-if you were going to attempt to recruit people to be suicide bombers what
would you focus on? How would you get them to want to “sign up”? What methods,
media and messages would you use in your recruitment campaign?
Note: If you want to reference the full Strenski article it is in your Course Materials
folder as a supplementary resource.
Suicide bombing has been rampant in terrorism complicating the reasons as to why
somebody would decide to end other’s lives, the bomber’s life included. This does not only
affect the males alone, but also females whose cases have also been recorded in the recent
past. Gonzalez-Perez (2011) submits that the Muslims claims that such acts are condemned in
their faith hence should not be tolerated. Therefore, there must be several factors that would
be considered for any someone to be recruited into such activities.
To begin with, Islamic faith and beliefs can play a major factor in recruitment. For
instance, it is hard for serious Christians to be involved in acts of terrorism because of their
faith. It means that profession of Islamic faith is a direct qualification for membership.
Secondly, gender orientation is also to be considered. This is because of the worrying trend of
SUICIDE IDEAOLOGY 2
more women being involved in suicide bombing. Bloom (2011) observes that using women
in terrorism is a great advantage because they may not thoroughly searched or touched on
security, entry, or exit points, as compared to their male counterparts. The final factor to
consider is impact or the end results. This takes into considerations of the targeted group
which may include schools, churches, public places, just to mention a few. This will also
determine the number of recruits required.
Scot (2006) observes the connection between terrorism and Jihad and this is an
attraction factor to membership. For males, execution of such attacks will attract good
rewards. To do this, the Holy Quran is required for guidelines in matters of this faith. Most
Muslims are devoted in attending their forums and hence advertisement can be run easily.
Finally, the unity and influence of Islamist groups like the Al-shabaab can act as a major
medium of transmitting information about recruitment.
Bloom, M. (2011). Bombshells: Women and Terror. Gend. Issues, 1–21.
Gonzalez-Perez, M. (2011). The False Islamization of Female Suicide Bombers. Gend. Issues
Scot, A. (2006). The Moral Logic and Growth. The Washington Quarterly, 29:2 , 127–147.