Occupation main driver of suicide bombs

A surge in suicide attacks in Iraq and elsewhere around the world is a response to territorial occupation and has no direct link with so-called Islamic fundamentalism, an American writer said in a new book.

“Islamic fundamentalism is not the primary driver of suicide terrorism”, Robert Pape, associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, told Reuters.

In his “Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism,” the American academician demonstrates to policymakers that a presumed connection between suicide attacks and the so-called Islamic fundamentalism is misleading and could contribute to policies that worsen the situation.

Pape said that the US administration in particular had only “a partial understanding” of what has been driving suicide attackers because it did not begin collecting data until 2000.

“Once you have a more complete picture you can see that the main cause of suicide terrorism is a response to foreign occupation, not Islamic fundamentalism, and the use of heavy combat forces to transform a Muslim society is only likely to increase the number of suicide terrorists as is now happening.”

The new book is based on what Pape calls the first comprehensive database, collected over the past 25 years, on every suicide attack in the world since 1980 in countries like Chechnya and the occupied Palestinian territories, using Arabic, Hebrew, Tamil and Russian-language sources.

He collected groundbreaking evidence to explain the strategic, social, and individual factors responsible for the suicide bombings phenomenon worldwide.

Islam Online, 5 June 2005

See also Reuters, 3 June 2005 and Al-Jazeera, 4 June 2005