Angry Robot

Dying to Kill Us

Interesting NYT op-ed argues that suicide terrorism has nothing to do with Islam.

14 comments on "Dying to Kill Us"

  1. Sparrow says:

    The author states that 75 of 188 suicide attacks were carried out by the Tamil Tigers. That’s 40%. I’d like to see his data for who carried out the other 60%. Also, the Tamil Tigers limit their attacks to Sri Lanka and India, if I’m not mistaken. Fundamentalist Muslims blow themselves up wherever they see fit, whether that be in New York, France, Israel or Iraq. The fact of the matter is members of this cult simply don’t like the West and have no respect for human life – a lethal combination. Couching their motives in terms of an attempt to move liberal democracies out of territories doesn’t alter this. After all, the IRA was and is trying to move a liberal democracy out of a territory and yet they have never resorted to suicide attacks. In fact, they invariably call ahead to give people a chance to get the hell out of dodge prior to detonation. No such niceties from our Saudi-funded “freedom-fighters”.

  2. D says:

    To me the jist of that piece is not that the desire to get an occupying power out of a given territory creates suicide terrorism as opposed to other forms of terrorism, but that in almost all cases, the action is taken as part of a political campaign rather than for purely religious reasons.

    As for the composition of the remaining attacks, I’d wager Palestinians attacking Israel, Kashmir-related stuff, and now attacks against US troops in Iraq (although that doesn’t figure into the data in question). Who’s attacking France – is it Algerians?

  3. tv says:

    I can’t disagree that members of ‘this cult’ (I assume you mean suicide bombers and not Muslims, in general) have no respect for human life. But saying that ‘they’ just don’t like the West is a little hard to swallow. It’s like saying, “They hate freedom,” as we often hear. I don’t know that Palestinian suicide bombers hate freedom. Or even hate Western ideals.

  4. Sparrow says:

    I guess it depends on your definition of freedom. Fundamentalist Muslims, and I mean fundamentalist Muslims, think that secular law should be subjugated to that of the tenets espoused in the Koran. That is a fundamental (no pun intended) departure from Western ideals. The West, with the exception of some nutbars in America and elsewhere, have got past the fantastical world of institutionalized cults, namely Chritianity, dictating how we live and it did so some three hundred years ago. Fundamentalist Muslims have not. If that’s culturally insensitive, so be it. Islam needs a Reformation or it will continue to be hijacked by simpletons with bombs attached to themselves and will continue to be against freedom of thought.

  5. D says:

    Fundamentalist Muslims… think that secular law should be subjugated to that of the tenets espoused in the Koran

    So do many fundamentalist Christians (substitute ‘Bible’ for ‘Koran”, of course), but that doesn’t make them suicide terrorists. Although, it sometimes makes them terrorists (eg. bombing abortion clinics).

    Islam needs a Reformation or it will continue to be hijacked by simpletons with bombs attached to themselves and will continue to be against freedom of thought.

    Once again, you’re missing the point of this article. If the key motivator of suicide terrorism is territorial and not religious, what good will a religious Reformation do if territorial grievances still remain?

  6. ÿ says:

    Anyone else read that all this 72 virgins B.S. doesn’t appear anywhere in the Koran? I assume it’s common knowledge to your average foreign correspondent, tho their financial situation ain’t improved when they go nuancing Paula Zahn’s views of Islam on National tv. I can’t think of any other reason why I heard/read “72 virgins” 200 times post 9/11, and read the whole thing shot down only once, albeit definitvely.

    I appreciated this article, but about “suicide terrorism having nothing to do with Islam”, I don’t know if I buy that. 72 virgins or no, and even if a dispute is primarily territorial, I’ve heard so many parents of ‘martyrs’ right there on the news saying “s/he is in a better place now,” that I’m convinced religious logic is playing a prominent role in all this– a role that’s about as hard to ignore as some drunkard puking all over your spring dress.

  7. D says:

    No – he mentions there was only a handful with no territorial grievance. So, no matter how much I love Islam, it’s extremely unlikely that I will blow myself up unless it’s as part of someone’s campaign to remove liberal democracy x from claimed homeland y.

    Religion is a factor in recruitment, yes. But to say suicide terrorism happens because of Islam is like saying US invades people because they want their soldiers to be able to die for their country.

    Or something like that? Just trying to follow the argument through…

  8. Sparrow says:

    The thing is, though, is that to fundamentalist Muslims, territorial ambitions are intrinsically linked with Islam. Islam, to these cocknockers, is not a religion limited to spirituality, it is an all-encompassing cultural, political and social idealogy. Those who dissent, such as our good selves, are heathens whose lives are worthless, hence the fundamentalist Muslims willingness to detonate themsleves in public spaces. Christians, for all their lunacy, have been put in their place as far as domination of politics etc. (at least for the most part) due to secularism’s victory over ignorance and superstition. I can think of one bombing of an abortion clinic and, as you’ve pointed out, it wasn’t a suicide attack. So why are fundamentalist Muslims willing to do it so readily? Because territorial grievances are viewed as, ultimately, heathens dominating Muslims, a religious grievance.

  9. D says:

    The problem with your argument, Sparrow, is that it is unprovable. As such, one can handily substitute one’s most-hated religion for ‘Muslim’ and it plays out A-OK. If anything, your criticism is one of fundamentalism, which I could easily get down with – the criticism thereof, that is – with the one caveat, to note that Christians have few territorial grudges in general against other religions (Ireland being the pathetic exception), whereas Muslims have very, very many.

  10. tv says:

    Islam, to these cocknockers, is not a religion limited to spirituality…

    No popular practice of any religion anywhere is limited to spirituality. Not that fundamentalist Muslims aren’t scary; they are. But it’s not like Christians, for example, actually believe in much of Jesus’s spiritual teachings. Jesus didn’t keep a gun in his drawer.

  11. king says:

    Anyone wanna e-mail me their NYTimes login/password so I can read the article?

  12. king says:

    Never mind, I got it.

  13. Sparrow says:

    You’re right, D, it’s not provable but neither is the NY Times article. Ultimately, we don’t know what motivates someone to strap on a couple dozen pounds of dynamite, walk into a mall and blow themsleves to pieces. We’re all just theorizing. Trends, however, do tell a story. Muslims blow themselves up, Christians don’t, even in places like Nigeria and Indonesia where the former are persecuted by Muslims. Or look at India, where suicide bombing occurs without Hindus resorting to the same practice. Surely, y’s point about proud Palestinian parents whittering on about little Ahmed being in a better place after dusting the bus makes you think Islam has something to do with the prediliction for suicide?

  14. D says:

    NYTimes article not provable? This is a guy who’s been studying suicide bombing and has amassed data to back up his opinion. He’s not concerned with the individual bombers’ decisions (in which religion often plays a part- that’s the bit about recruiting), since he’s found that in almost all cases, the bombings are part of a coordinated movement to combat a perceived territorial grievance. Without such a movement, even with the promise of a glorious afterlife, fundamental Muslims and everyone else seem extremely unlikely to blow themselves up.

    I find it an interesting point that took me a bit by surprise. I can’t say I’m willing to keep arguing about it as I’m not exactly married to it, but nothing you said convinces me otherwise – the larger point to me is that suicide or not, people of all religions seem to carry out terrorist bombings, as do atheist Marxist rebels in various places. I dislike any kind of fundamentalism, but then again I’m not a super-big fan of organized religion in general.

    Apparently the Tamil Tigers are mostly Hindu. Probably in terms of ethnicity rather than religion, as I understand they are atheists..? (can’t check now since the article has gone into the vault)

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