Friday, December 01, 2006


Why would some blow themselves up on a bus or in a restauarant for the purpose of killing random people?

Take for example the story of Hanadi Tayseer. She was a 29 years old, a lawyer who detonated a bomb in a restaurant in Haifa on the 4 October 2003, killing herself, 19 Israelis and injuring 50 others. Hanadi was from Jenin in the Israeli Occupied Territory of West Bank. Her younger brother Fadi, a 25 year old and older cousin 34 year old Salah were killed in an Israeli raid on Jenin in 2003.

I can only speculate as to why Hanadi took her own life and those of the Israelis in the restaurant. I watched the documentary, Visit Palestine, which tells the story about Caiomhe Butterly (Wiki) an Irish peace activist who lived in Jenin in 2002. Caoihme was shot (27/11/02 Guardian) but returned in 2003 just days before Hanadi blew herself up. Caoihme reasoned that Hanadi killed herself because the Israeli occupation of Jenin was so oppressive and given her brother and cousin were killed. I would say that Hanadi was without hope and that life had lost its meaning and that she could only rid herself of the pain of life through taking her own life. To make this a meaningful act, shetook her life as statement against the occupation of Jenin and the killing of her brother.

As a European Australian I am aware that I live on a land that was fought for. I was born on Biripai soil, an Aboriginal nation to the north of Newcastle. But the Biripai are no more. Just a relic of there former self. They are a community that is struggling to overcome 150 years of occupation of their traditional land.

My ancestors would have been fearful of and despised Aboriginals, the indigenous people of the land of my birth.

My suggestion is if you want to understand terrorism, then ask yourself the question, why did the Native Americans, indigenous Australians, indigenous South Africans respond to Euro-American settlers with violence? I would suggest that the answer is the invasion and occupation by another people (regardless of their origin or purported claim for the land).

Why does terrorism such as the twin towers or suicide bombing happen? This happens, sadly, because people, choose to use violence as a way to solve their problems. Such people do not like the American troops in Saudi Arabia or the American military support for Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian Territories. People choose terrorism because they see no hope for change through politics, or economics, so they choose a military approach. They choose terror.

Nation states such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Israel similarly, choose terror in response, through the occupation of Iraq or the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

This cycle of terror responding to terror will continue until someone is brave enough to say stop, there needs to be a new way, a way to solve this through non-violent means. A process based on fairness, compassion and humility.

Robert Pape's study on terrorism

What we still don't understand about Hizbollah
Robert Pape
Sunday August 6, 2006
The Observer

"This week, world terrorism expert Robert Pape will share with the FBI the findings of his remarkable study of 462 suicide bombings. He concludes that such acts have little to do with religious extremism and that the West must engage politically to halt the relentless slaughter

Religion is rarely the root cause, although it is often used as a tool by terrorist organisations in recruiting and in other efforts in service of the broader strategic objective. Most often, it is a response to foreign occupation."

The Logic of Suicide Terrorism: It’s the occupation, not the fundamentalism
Interview with Robert Pape 18 July 2005

Dying to Win: Why Suicide Terrorists Do It (Hardcover)
by Robert A. Pape

Roots of terror

Israeli-Palestinian conflict

More details

The Logic of Suicide Terrorism: It’s the occupation, not the fundamentalism
Interview with Robert Pape 18 July 2005

Excerpt from the interview

The American Conservative (magazine) Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders also talked about the “Crusaders-Zionist alliance,” and I wonder if that, even if we weren’t in Iraq, would not foster suicide terrorism. Even if the policy had helped bring about a Palestinian state, I don’t think that would appease the more hardcore opponents of Israel.

Robert Pape: I not only study the patterns of where suicide terrorism has occurred but also where it hasn’t occurred. Not every foreign occupation has produced suicide terrorism. Why do some and not others? Here is where religion matters, but not quite in the way most people think. In virtually every instance where an occupation has produced a suicide-terrorist campaign, there has been a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied community. That is true not only in places such as Lebanon and in Iraq today but also in Sri Lanka, where it is the Sinhala Buddhists who are having a dispute with the Hindu Tamils.

When there is a religious difference between the occupier and the occupied, that enables terrorist leaders to demonize the occupier in especially vicious ways. Now, that still requires the occupier to be there. Absent the presence of foreign troops, Osama bin Laden could make his arguments but there wouldn’t be much reality behind them. The reason that it is so difficult for us to dispute those arguments is because we really do have tens of thousands of combat soldiers sitting on the Arabian Peninsula.

TAC: Has the next generation of anti-American suicide terrorists already been created? Is it too late to wind this down, even assuming your analysis is correct and we could de-occupy Iraq?

RP: Many people worry that once a large number of suicide terrorists have acted that it is impossible to wind it down. The history of the last 20 years, however, shows the opposite. Once the occupying forces withdraw from the homeland territory of the terrorists, they often stop—and often on a dime.

In Lebanon, for instance, there were 41 suicide-terrorist attacks from 1982 to 1986, and after the U.S. withdrew its forces, France withdrew its forces, and then Israel withdrew to just that six-mile buffer zone of Lebanon, they virtually ceased. They didn’t completely stop, but there was no campaign of suicide terrorism. Once Israel withdrew from the vast bulk of Lebanese territory, the suicide terrorists did not follow Israel to Tel Aviv.

This is also the pattern of the second Intifada with the Palestinians. As Israel is at least promising to withdraw from Palestinian-controlled territory (in addition to some other factors), there has been a decline of that ferocious suicide-terrorist campaign. This is just more evidence that withdrawal of military forces really does diminish the ability of the terrorist leaders to recruit more suicide terrorists.

That doesn’t mean that the existing suicide terrorists will not want to keep going. I am not saying that Osama bin Laden would turn over a new leaf and suddenly vote for George Bush. There will be a tiny number of people who are still committed to the cause, but the real issue is not whether Osama bin Laden exists. It is whether anybody listens to him. That is what needs to come to an end for Americans to be safe from suicide terrorism.

TAC: There have been many kinds of non-Islamic suicide terrorists, but have there been Christian suicide terrorists?

RP: Not from Christian groups per se, but in Lebanon in the 1980s, of those suicide attackers, only eight were Islamic fundamentalists. Twenty-seven were Communists and Socialists. Three were Christians.

TAC: Has the IRA used suicide terrorism?

RP: The IRA did not. There were IRA members willing to commit suicide—the famous hunger strike was in 1981. What is missing in the IRA case is not the willingness to commit suicide, to kill themselves, but the lack of a suicide-terrorist attack where they try to kill others.

If you look at the pattern of violence in the IRA, almost all of the killing is front-loaded to the 1970s and then trails off rather dramatically as you get through the mid-1980s through the 1990s. There is a good reason for that, which is that the British government, starting in the mid-1980s, began to make numerous concessions to the IRA on the basis of its ordinary violence. In fact, there were secret negotiations in the 1980s, which then led to public negotiations, which then led to the Good Friday Accords. If you look at the pattern of the IRA, this is a case where they actually got virtually everything that they wanted through ordinary violence.

The purpose of a suicide-terrorist attack is not to die. It is the kill, to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the target society in order to compel that target society to put pressure on its government to change policy. If the government is already changing policy, then the whole point of suicide terrorism, at least the way it has been used for the last 25 years, doesn’t come up.

Other sites

Palestinian Women Terrorists (Israeli perspective)

The Role of Palestinian Women in Suicide Terrorism (Communicated by Israeli security sources). January 2003. (MFA)

Palestinian Women Martyrs (Palestinian perspective)

Palestinian Women Martyrs Against the Israeli Occupation (Aztlan)

State sponsored terrorism (Wiki)

Political terrorism (Wiki)