- Why "Suicide Bombing" Must be a Myth and What
Purposes it Really Serves
- After reading The Logic of Suicide Terrorism--It's the
Occupation, Not the Fundamentalism by Robert Pape, the main idea that we
come away with is that suicide bombers are real, very real indeed. Though
we were promised a revelation of the logic, these questions remain:
- If the purpose of a suicide-terrorist attack is not to
die, but to kill and to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the
target society, why do they die?
- If the purpose of the suicide bomber is to end the occupation
of his country, why is the suicide tactic not as old as war and territorial
- If the purpose of the suicide bomber is to end the occupation
of his country and to inflict the maximum number of casualties on the target
society why are the targets so disparate and scattered, without a clear
relation to the occupation?
- Why are suicide bombings publicized before any proof
is brought by investigation?
- For me these questions underline the illogical nature
of suicide bombings. I believe to find logic you have to see the suicide
bomber as a fabrication of the Zionists for their own purposes:
- To demonize Islam
- To make Muslims look stupid, fanatical, and murderous.
- To create worldwide terrorism that they can claim has
nothing to do with Israel, but everything to do with Islam.
- To attack those who think themselves to be allies, but
are not, e.g. America, Spain, Britain.
- To shift the blame for any bombing Zionists perpetrate
onto the Muslims, simply by calling it a suicide bombing.
- To control public opinion in favor of Israel as the most
grieved victim of terrorism.
- To justify apartheid in Israel.
- To justify war in the Middle East with the spoils of
war accruing to themselves, while the costs are borne by their "allies".
- So it's not the fundamentalism, it's not the occupation,
it's not suicide, it's not a guerilla tactic, it's the timeless strategy
of the Jews working to advantage themselves on their journey toward dominion.
- Israel Uses the Myth as a Cover to Attack "Allies"
- [Israel uses the suicide bomber myth as a cover] to attack
those who think themselves to be allies, but are not, e.g. America, Spain,
- In 1983 Israel invaded and occupied Lebanon. The US and
France had peacekeeping forces in place near the Beirut airport. The US
had a naval presence off the coast. Early one Sunday morning, simultaneously,
both the French and American Marine barracks were bombed. The story was
that a truck had come at high speed through a gate and exploded, killing
hundreds of Marines. As the two bombings were simultaneous one wonders
why so little is said about the French barracks especially if we are to
think there were simultaneous "truck bombs"; it would have been
a neat trick.
- Suicide was not mentioned in the original reports, in
1983, but in the twentieth anniversary reports the bombing of the US Marine
barracks was said to have been done by a "suicide bomber", and
elsewhere the words "terrorist suicide bombing" were used. So
by 2003 a simple bombing had become a suicide bombing. I think that change
- Using Professor Pape's logic of suicide terrorism applied
to the situation in Lebanon we should wonder why the occupying Israeli
force was not targeted rather than the French and Americans who were on
the periphery as peacekeepers. Just because a target is handy does not
make it strategically worthwhile. If the planning was so tight that simultaneous
truck bombs could hit these two marginal targets, why not use that expertise
and tonnage to hit the one perfect target?
- The Israelis had prior knowledge of a truck being outfitted
to carry a very large bomb but did not warn the Americans.(déjà
vu) This was reported by Mossad operative, Victor Ostrovsky in his book
By Way of Deception. The odd thing about this story is not that the Israelis
neglected to warn the Americans, but that they could even imagine that
the Americans would be the target rather than themselves. Why would they
think that? The Israelis use the deception of admitting some knowledge
as a way of deflecting suspicion away from themselves as perpetrators.
In this case the admission of prior knowledge reveals more than disregard,
it reveals an inconsistency that makes me believe they were the bombers.
- Israel's Suicide Bomber Myth is an Organic Process With
Three Components: Reality, Fantasy and Purpose
- [KingKangaroo:] If Israel did invent the suicide bomb,
why did they wait so long to use the tactic at home?
- The invention of a myth does not happen in a meeting
of the Knesset, nor does it come out of the imagination of one person or
a think tank. It is an organic process that is a mix of reality, fantasy,
- A good example of this organic process is the example
I gave earlier of the bombings in 1983 of the US and French military barracks
at the Beirut airport. I believe it was Israel that carried out the attacks.
The Israelis did not want the US and France to intermeddle in Israel's
attack on the Palestinians who had fled to Lebanon. The US and France were
their allies, so an attack could not be seen to come from the Israelis.
The bombing was done under the pretense that two truck bombs were detonated
simultaneously as they ran into the barracks. Of course the trucks, if
there were any, were demolished, and the drivers, if there were any, were
blown up. The story of who did the bombing was in the hands of the Israelis
who fabricated the whole thing to cover themselves.
- So the Israelis had the purpose to make their meddlesome
allies leave. The reality was the bombing, and the fantasy was the fabrication
that hid the truth. Today this would be called a "suicide bombing"
in 1983 it was not. You can see that it is only the characterization that
has changed, not the action.
- I do not know the event that marks the beginning of the
suicide bomber myth. Bombings can be made suicidal retroactively, making
it even more difficult to pinpoint its beginnings. One thing I can say
with confidence is that it was not an actual suicide that prompted the
new formula, but almost serendipitously the Israelis found the suicide
twist to their terrorism myth to be very useful..
- The primary use of the suicide bomber myth is to demonize
the Palestinians. Israel had fought three successful wars against the inhabitants
of Palestine in 1948, 1967, and 1973. The Palestinians had been disarmed,
dispossessed, and forced into refugee camps in Gaza, Jordan, and the West
Bank. After 1973 what the Israelis had on their hands was akin to Indian
Reservations in the US, but with millions of people in the small territory.
This did not satisfy the Israelis who wanted the whole lot to move into
neighboring countries leaving Israel to the Israelis.
- The injustice and inequality of this situation was too
obvious for the Israelis to pursue their goals without condemnation by
the world. It was pathetic to listen to Israelis whine about being threatened
by the awful Palestinians who wanted to "push Jews into the sea".
It was necessary to make these rag-tag Palestinians look menacing, dangerous,
and fanatical to justify Israel's continued expansion and relentless punishment
of these defeated people.
- Blaming the Palestinians for terrorist actions, like
the murder of the Israeli Olympic athletes at Munich, was Israel's original
ploy, but ambitious actions like that were costly and difficult. Gradually
the elaborate terrorism of Abu Nidal gave way to the modest but equally
effective suicide bomber. The purpose of making the Palestinians look wantonly
murderous, unpredictable and fanatical is realized by this myth, justifying
all manner of retribution and Israel's continued expansion. This ogranic
process goes on. As we speak, the myth of the Palestinian suicide bomber
is taking on its new form in London; as it has in Madrid, Kenya, Tanzania,
New York and other farflung places -wherever the Jews find it useful.
- The Fairy Tale Blocks Serious Questions
- The moment people stop believing in the suicide bomber
fairy tale, the sooner they'll start to ask some serious questions.
- Remember how we all used to believe the holocaust tales?
There are all those pictures, all that testimony, all those books written,
all those memorials built. It is in textbooks and encyclopedias. It is
taught in school.
- Can't we handle the possiblity that the "Islamic
fundamentalist, suicide bomber" may also be a lie? We should look
at everything with the same skepticism we developed in dealing with the
holocaust myth, especially those things that come from the same source.
- Israel is Attacking Muslims AND the West--The Two Should
be Allies Against Israel
- It is the modus operandi of the Jews to stand aside while
their enemies fight one another. It is well known that the Jews consider
Muslims their enemy, but most white people in the world do not see themselves
as the enemy of the Jews, when in fact they are. Why are we in Iraq? Is
that really our battle?
- A comparison can be made of WW I and II in which Europe
was invited to self-destruct. Where were the Jews in those fights that
benefited them beyond all others? Why is it that the Jewish banking interests
fund both sides of a conflict? They come out of these terrible wars richer
and more powerful while the power of the white world was diminished.
- After the Russian Revolution and WW I, Jewish/Communism
was triumphant and ready to conquer Europe. All of Europe had been weakened
by WW I. The threat of Communism called for an alliance of Europe against
the onslaught. It was not to be because Jewish influence on Churchill and
Roosevelt made impossible the only sensible alliance of all Europe against
- Now the white world is being told that our enemy is Islam.
- Treason and the Myth
- [Mariner:] Since the U.S. Intel people know this - IF
the Israelis masterminded the bombing of the Marine Barracks - they know
it and are engaged in Treason by not making it known.
- A fine example of such treason is the case of the USS
Liberty. Knowledge went beyond Intelligence all the way to LBJ who gave
the order for the rescuers to turn back.
- The Intifada is Real and Justified, Not to Confuse with
the Suicide Bomber Fable
- Of course the Palestinian resistance is real and thoroughly
justified. It is the fabricated "suicide bomber" that I seek
to discredit. The myth is used to make the Palestinians and Muslims look
stupid and effete. It is also the method by which they are set up as patsies
for every act of terrorism Israel chooses. The forty foot high security
wall replete with guard towers was justified by the myth of the "suicide
bomber". Don't confuse this cheap fable with the true courage of real
- It is Very Hard and Rare to Overcome Survival Instinct
and Commit Suicide
- [MrSpock:] The suicide bomber as a fabrication of the
Zionists? How? Who dies?
- Muslims, and sacrificial others. Part of what makes the
"suicide bomber" preposterous is that no important Jewish target
has ever been hit.
- Suicide is absolutely unnatural; it is an aberration
in creatures whose instinct is to survive. It is not easy to override that
instinct. It is so contrary to instinct that stories of suicide for a cause
are few and always make us marvel: the samurai who falls on his sword as
penance for a loss in battle, the kamikaze pilot who knows he goes to certain
death, the Roman who prefers death by his own hand to the humiliation of
being killed by his enemies. There have been Christian and Buddhist martyrs
who use suicide as a demonstration of belief and/or protest. All these
are distinct from the unwilling martyrdom of dying in conflict.
- The fact that suicide for a cause is so exceptional in
our history is one thing that makes me question the burgeoning phenomenon
of the "Muslim suicide bomber". The Japanese Kamikaze pilot is
understandable as a cultural phenomenon with roots in the concept of the
samurai, but again, this is so exceptional that we look in awe on those
whose sense of duty is so strong. Can we find a similar antecedent for
this peculiar type of martyrdom among Muslims in these last fourteen centuries,
keeping in mind the difference between dying in battle and an intentional
suicide? I don't think so.
- Are there any other instances of intentional martyrdom
in all our history that have been met with such cruel derision and mockery
as the "Muslim suicide bomber" of our time? Doesn't such a reaction
by itself make this case extraordinary?
- That suicide for a cause is anti-instinctual, exceedingly
rare, and when found, traceable to its cultural antecedents, makes me very
skeptical that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of such cases would spring
forth quite suddenly in a people, no matter what the provocation.
- Professor Pape tries to avoid the question of religion
in his article because he wants us to think that the occupation of territory
in the Middle East is sufficient to cause this phenomenon. It cannot be.
And Gabor would like to make the case for Islam as the sufficient cause
of suicide bombing, and that cannot be either, for many of those purported
to be suicides are not religious.
- As for the Palestinian family whose son or daughter is
said to have been a suicide bomber, are they not very much like families
everywhere whose children die in battle? They desperately want to see that
the death meant something, had some good in it. That is not hard to understand.
Also familiar to all are the leaders who praise the dead, speaking of their
heroism. It keeps up morale.
- Neither of us has access to evidence for or against suicide
bombings and cannot hope to prove anything one way or the other. What I
have tried to do is look at it historically, psychologically, and rationally.
I stand by my assertion that the "Muslim suicide bomber" is a
myth. As you said about the Muslims, "They don't deny the suicide
bombers, they are trying to explain it." I am trying to explain it
too, it needs a lot of explaining.
- The Vulgar 72 Virgin Myth [Has No Basis in Islam]
- [Judson:]...[the parents] desperately want to see that
the death meant something, had some good in it. That is not hard to understand
- How many times have you heard an American bring up the
idea that suicide bombers are motivated by the thought of 72 virgins waiting
for them in heaven? What audacious and gratutitous cruelty, how heartless,
how vulgar. Is that what they would like to say to the parents of a son
or daughter who has been killed in the struggle against the Zionists? And
how much more horrible is it to think that they were not suicides but homicides?
Americans should keep their smutty fantasies to themselves.
- The Suicide Bomber Never Really Hurts the Enemy
- [grizzle:] No important Jewish target has ever been hit.
Kind of like the IRA isn't gunning for the queen and family.
- Not quite. Take the example that is in this morning's
- A suicide bomber blew himself up among a group of teens
near a shopping mall in the seaside city of Netanya on Tuesday, killing
himself and two others in the second such attack since a truce was declared
five months ago. ...The blast went off shortly before 7 p.m. near the Sharon
Mall in Netanya. Police said a preliminary investigation indicated the
bomber blew himself up among a group of teenagers crossing a busy intersection.
- Unidentified teenagers crossing a street is not an important
Jewish target. But this is typical for bombings in Israel. The victims
are often not even Israelis, let alone important Israelis. Reports of victims
and damage are deliberately vague, merely giving an impression, not facts
or pictures. Asian and South American workers, other Palestinians, and
what seems to be a favorite target - Russian immigrants are the usual victims.
- After thinking carefully about suicide as a tactic and
putting yourself in the place of a person contemplating this ultimate sacrifice
how would you choose a target to make your death worthwhile - useful
to force an end to the occupation of your country? Would you blow yourself
up in a shopping mall toy store, the entrance to a super market, a bus
stop, near a hitchhiking post, in a restaurant frequented by foreigners,
outside a shopping mall? It may not be possible to get through the security
to hit the Knesset while in session, but surely you could come up with
something better than a mall toy store.
- The pathetic nature of the targets reinforces the idea
that Muslims are stupid. But for me it reinforces the doubt that Muslims
are suicide bombers.
- The Suicide Hijacker--Similar Myth
- [grizzle:] Palestinian vs Israeli is not 9/11 or 7/7.
I doubt Muslims were involved in the latter two, unless they were the non-religious
CIA shill type.
- I do not believe that Muslims were involved in 9/11,
but wasn't the notion of the suicide bomber the direct antecedent of the
suicide hijacker? I believe there were no hijackers involved in 9/11. But
for all those who buy the hijacker scenario the preparation they have been
given to believe that Muslims have no qualms about suicide leads directly
to the conclusion that Muslims must be the culprits.
- Palestinian vs. Israeli is not 9/11, 7/7, 3/11, USS Cole,
Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania embassy bombings, the shoebomber, Beslan school,
suicide bombings in Iraq, etc. If they are not Palestinian vs. Israeli,
perhaps the Israeli part of the equation is what should be examined. The
Israelis invented and perpetuate this myth, complete with the bombed-out
bus tour of Europe and the US. It is not hard for them to come up with
these tales, just think for a moment about the absolutely Byzantine concoctions
provided by very ordinary Jews as they manufacture their holocaust tales.
- Muslims Did Not Use Suicide as a Method in Previous Wars
- [MrSpock:] So the person believes that he won't really
die, only go "to another place". Isn't that what all religion
is all about? Of course it is. Muslims just happened to "activate"
this belief in a larger than average percentage.
- Islam has been around for 1400 years. Is suicide a religio-cultural
tradition? Looking only at history in the last 150 years can you point
to suicide as a method of fighting the enemy? The French experience with
Muslim terrorists in Algeria had its bombers, but no suicide bombers. The
English experience in fighting the Arabs in 1918 in Iraq was fierce, but
no suicide bombers. Israel has been fighting the Palestinians since 1948,
where are the Muslim suicide bombers in those years between 1948 and 1985?
If it were a religious predilection it would not have made a sudden appearance
in Israel within the last twenty years. Islam is a worldwide religion,
fighting battles in places far from the Palestinian conflict before
1985 where were the Muslim suicide bombers outside of Israel?
- In addition, it is the case that many of the so-called
suicide terrorists are not religious. How can a religion induce a person
to commit suicide with the promise of honor in heaven if that person is
not a believer?
- You agreed with my statement "Suicide is absolutely
unnatural; it is an aberration in creatures whose instinct is to survive.
It is not easy to override that instinct.. But just to add another dimension
to our survival instinct, think of what you know about mothers. Is it not
the case that protection of her young is primary? It is not difficult for
us to imagine a mother who sacrifices herself for her child, we can understand
that. But can we imagine a mother of two small children ready to commit
suicide for a cause? A mother would not have the inducement of "72
virgins waiting on the other side" as Muslim haters mockingly cite.
- Getting involved in a case by case dispute over hundreds,
possibly thousands of these reports is not possible for us. I am just not
willing to accept at face value the reports of suicide bombers coming out
of the Middle East for all the reasons I have discussed. I do not have
to present an alternative explanation for every death that has been attributed
to a suicide bomber to cast doubt on the stories. It would be akin to disputing
the six million figure for the holocaust by examining each of the six million.
The story can be undercut in other ways. I have tried to do that.
- Embarrassing Reality Check
- Robert Pape
- Ph.D., Chicago, 1988
- Major Areas of Interest:
- Selected Publications:
- - The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism" in APSR
- - Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War;
- - "Explaining Costly International Moral Action:
Britain's Sixty-Year Campaign against the Atlantic Slave Trade" (with
Chaim Kaufmann) in International Organization (1999).
- Robert A. Pape is Associate Professor of Political Science
at the University of Chicago specializing in international security affairs.
His publications include Bombing to Win: Air Power and Coercion in War
(Cornell 1996), "Why Economic Sanctions Do Not Work," International
Security (1997), "The Determinants of International Moral Action,"
International Organization (1999). His commentary on international security
policy has appeared in The New York Times, New Republic, Boston Globe,
Los Angeles Times, and Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, as well as on Nightline,
ABC News with Peter Jennings, and National Public Radio. Before coming
to Chicago in 1999, he taught international relations at Dartmouth College
for five years and air power strategy for the USAF's School of Advanced
Airpower Studies for three years. He received his Ph. D. from the University
of Chicago in 1988 and graduated summa cum laude and Phi Betta Kappa from
the University of Pittsburgh in 1982. His current work focuses on the effect
of technological change on conflict and cooperation among major powers
and the theory and practice of suicide terrorism.
- Impatient says: When suicide terrorism is exposed as
a hoax won't all these accolades be a little embarrassing? I mean, really
- The Theory and Practice of Suicide Terrorism? I''m afraid it is worse
than being an expert in Gender Issues and is right up there with Holocaust
Studies. Passé doesn't quite describe how it will look when the
truth is known.
- Epilogue by Cyte
- The Koran states that the punishment for murder is execution
unless the survivors waive it. The punishment for suicide is eternal Hell
and there is no way out.
- I once met a suicide-promoting cleric in an Arab country
and listened to him for a while. He was not an Arab, but he wanted to look
like one. He spoke like one. He coordinated with local intelligence and
the Mossad. And nobody touched him. He talked to young men about suicide.
He was a suicide talk trainer. The boys talked about suicide and were all
incarcerated, but the Israeli myth of the suicide bomber was born.
- I don't think that there are suicide trainers, but suicide-talk
trainers. I believe that videos declaring intent to go on a suicide mission
are staged under drugs or under torture.
- Liberty Forum poster "impatient" presented
compelling arguments on this thread that the suicide bomber is a myth and
cannot exist in reality. "Impatient" refuted professor Robert
Pape's research on the subject. I have only weaved his comments together
and added section headings, an epilogue and a few comments between square