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June 30, 2005

What Drives Suicide Terror?

It is popular among some columnists and others in the media to suggest that suicide bombers who kill Israeli civilians are driven by "desperation." This idea famously made its way to the political echelon when British Parliamentarian Jenny Tonge said:

... I do understand why people out there become suicide bombers. It is out of desperation. I dare say if I was in their situation with my children and my grandchildren and I saw no hope for the future at all - which I'm not, of course, but if I did - I might just think about it myself.

This idea has been refuted many times, most recently — believe it or not — on NPR's Morning Edition. On the June 27th program, Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago and director of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism; Scott Altran, a terrorism scholar at the University of Michigan; and NPR's Mike Shuster discussed suicide terror:

Mr. PAPE: The purpose of suicide terrorism is not to die but to kill, to kill the maximum number of people in the target country...

SHUSTER: ... The Chicago Project's database also reveals that most suicide terrorists, including 71 who died in al-Qaeda attacks between 1995 and 2003, are not depressed or mentally ill, nor do they come from impoverished circumstances, as is commonly assumed. In fact, they are often some of society's best educated. Scott Atran agrees. He is a terrorism scholar at the University of Michigan.

Mr. SCOTT ATRAN: Most of the people who do this are fairly well off, fairly educated, from middle-class families, some from upper-class families. They're idealists. They believe what they're doing is for the sake and the good of their people.

This underscores a point frequently noted by CAMERA and overlooked by the media: The root of Palestinian terrorism is hate education.

And that hate education unfortunately has not stopped.

Posted by at June 30, 2005 09:33 PM


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