Suicide Bombers Essay

"Military suicide" redirects here. It is not to be confused with Veteran § Suicide.

A suicide attack is any violent attack in which the attacker expects their own death as a direct result of the method used to harm, damage or destroy the target. Suicide attacks have occurred throughout history, often as part of a military campaign such as the Japanese kamikaze pilots of World War II, and more recently as part of terrorist campaigns, such as the September 11 attacks.

While there were few, if any, successful suicide attacks anywhere in the world from the end of World War II until 1980,[1] between 1981 and September 2015, a total of 4,814 suicide attacks occurred in over 40 countries,[2] killing over 45,000 people. During this time the global rate of such attacks grew from an average of three a year in the 1980s, to about one a month in the 1990s, to almost one a week from 2001 to 2003,[3] to approximately one a day from 2003 to 2015.[2]

Suicide attacks tend to be more deadly and destructive than other terror attacks[4] because they give their perpetrators the ability to conceal weapons, make last-minute adjustments, and because they dispense with the need for remote or delayed detonation, escape plans or rescue teams.[4] They constituted only 4% of all terrorist attacks around the world over one period (between 1981 and 2006), but caused 32% of all terrorism-related deaths (14,599).[citation needed] Ninety percent of those attacks occurred in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.[5] Overall, as of mid-2015 about three-quarters of all suicide attacks occurred in just three countries: Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq.[6]

Suicide attacks have been described as a weapon of psychological warfare[7] to instill fear in the target population,[8] a strategy to eliminate or at least drastically diminish areas where the public feels safe, and the "fabric of trust that holds societies together".[4]

The motivation of suicide attackers varies. Kamikaze acted under military orders and were motivated by obedience and nationalism. Before 2003, most attacks targeted forces occupying the attackers' homeland, according to analyst Robert Pape.[9] Anthropologist Scott Atran states that since 2004 the overwhelming majority of bombers have been motivated by the ideology of Islamist martyrdom.[10]



Main article: Definitions of terrorism

Suicide attacks include both Suicide terrorism—terrorism often defined as any action "intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants" for the purpose of intimidation[11]—and suicide attacks not targeting non-combatants. An alternative definition is provided by Jason Burke, a journalist who has lived among Islamic militants, and suggests that most define terrorism as 'the use or threat of serious violence' to advance some kind of 'cause', stressing that terrorism is a tactic.[12] Academic Fred Halliday, has written that assigning the descriptor of 'terrorist' or 'terrorism' to the actions of a group is a tactic used by states to deny 'legitimacy' and 'rights to protest and rebel'.[13]

Suicide terrorism[edit]

The definition of "suicide" is another issue. Suicide terrorism itself has been defined by one source (Ami Pedahzur) as "violent actions perpetrated by people who are aware that the odds they will return alive are close to zero".[15] Other sources[16][17] exclude from their work "suicidal" or high risk attacks, such as the Lod Airport massacre or "reckless charge in battle",[16] focusing only on true "suicide attacks", where the odds of survival are not "close to zero" but required to be zero, because "the perpetrator's ensured death is a precondition for the success of his mission".[17]

Also excluded from the definition are '

It may not always be clear to investigators which type of killing is which. Suicide attack campaigns sometimes also using proxy bombers (such as alleged in Iraq)[21] or manipulating the vulnerable to be bombers,[16][22] and at least one researcher (Adam Lankford) arguing that the motivation to kill and be killed connects some suicide attackers more closely to "suicidal rampage" murderers than is commonly thought.[20]


The usage of the term "suicide attack" goes back a long way[citation needed] but "suicide bombing" dates back to at least 1940 when a New York Times article mentions the term in relation to German tactics.[23] Less than two years later that newspaper referred to a Japanese kamikaze attempt on an American carrier as a "suicide bombing".[24] In 1945 The Times of London, referred to a kamikaze plane as a "suicide-bomb",[25] and two years later an article there referred to a new British pilot-less, radio-controlled rocket missile as originally designed "as a counter-measure to the Japanese 'suicide-bomber'".[26][27]

Alternative terms[edit]

Sometimes, to assign either a more positive or negative connotation to the act, suicide bombing is referred to by different terms.[citation needed]


Main article: Istishhad

Islamist supporters often call a suicide attack Istishhad (often translated as "martyrdom operation"), and the suicide attacker shahid (pl. shuhada, literally 'witness' and usually translated as 'martyr'). The idea being that the attacker died in order to testify his faith in God, for example while waging jihad bis saif (jihad by the sword). The term "suicide" is never used because Islam has strong strictures against taking one's own life. The terms Istishhad / "martyrdom operation" have been embraced by the Palestinian Authority, and by Hamas, Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah and other Palestinian factions.[28]

Homicide bombing

Some efforts have been made to replace the term "suicide bombing" with "homicide bombing", on the grounds that since the homicide is a more apt an adjective than "suicide", since the primary purpose of such a bombing is to kill other people.

The first to use the term for a wide audience was White House Press SecretaryAri Fleischer in April 2002.[29] The only major media outlets to use it were Fox News Channel and the New York Post (both of which are owned by News Corporation and have since mostly abandoned the term).[30][31]

Emeritus Professor Robert Goldney, of the University of Adelaide, has argued in favor of the term "homicide bomber", arguing that studies show that there is little in common between people who blow themselves up, intending to kill as many people as possible in the process, and actual suicide victims.[32] Fox News producer Dennis Murray argued that a suicidal act should be reserved for a person who does something to kill themselves only. CNN Producer Christa Robinson argued that the term "homicide bomber" reflects only that you have killed other people, but not that you have also killed yourself.[28][33]

Genocide bombing

"Genocide bombing" was coined in 2002 by Irwin Cotler, a member of the Canadian parliament, in an effort to focus attention on the alleged intention of genocide by militant Palestinians in their calls to "wipe Israel off the map".[34][35]

Sacrifice bombing

In the German-speaking area the term "sacrifice bombing" (Ger. Opferanschlag) was proposed in 2012 by German scholar Arata Takeda.[36] The term is intended to shift the focus away from the suicide of the perpetrators and towards their use as weapons by their commanders.

The 1st Century AD Jewish Sicarii sect are thought to have carried out suicidal attacks[17] against Hellenized Jews they considered immoral collaborators.[37] The Islamic Hashishiyeen (Assassins) sect of Ismaili Shi'a Muslims assassinated two caliphs, and many viziers, sultans and Crusader leaders over the course of 300 years,[38] before being annihilated by Mongol invaders. Hashishiyeen were known for their targeting of the powerful, their use of the dagger as a weapon (rather than something safer for the assassin such as a crossbow), and for making no attempt to escape after completing their killing.[39] However, this is disputed by non-orientalis scholars who claimed that unlike the Ninja or Shinobi, the Assassins always avoided suicide unless it was absolutely necessary, and preferred to be killed by their captors.

Arnold von Winkelried became a hero in the Swiss struggle for independence when he sacrificed himself at the Battle of Sempach in 1386.

The earliest known non-military suicide attack occurred in Murchison in New Zealand on 14 July 1905. A long-standing dispute between two farmers resulted in a court case, and the defendant (Joseph Sewell) had sticks of gelignite strapped to his body. When Sewell excitedly shouted during the court sitting about the other farmer "I'll blow the devil to hell, and I have enough dynamite to do just that", he was ushered out of the building. Sewell detonated the charge when a police officer tried to arrest him on the street, and his body was blown to pieces, but nobody else died from their injuries.[40][41]


To counter the superior numbers of the Chola dynasty empire's army in the 11th century, suicide squads were raised by the Indian Chera rulers. This helped the Cheras to resist Chola invasion and maintain the independence of their kingdom from the time of Kulothunga Chola I. These warriors were known as the "chavers".[42][page needed] Later, these suicide squads rendered service as police, volunteer troop and fighting squads in the region. Now their primary duty was to assist local rulers in battles and skirmishes. The rulers of the state of Valluvanad are known to have deployed a number of suicide squads against the ruler of Calicut.[43][page needed]


In the late 17th century, Qing official Yu Yonghe recorded that injured Dutch soldiers fighting against Koxinga's forces for control of Taiwan in 1661 would use gunpowder to blow up both themselves and their opponents rather than be taken prisoner.[44] However, the Chinese observer may have confused such suicidal tactics with the standard Dutch military practice of undermining and blowing up positions recently overrun by the enemy which almost cost Koxinga his life during the Siege of Fort Zeelandia.[45]


Muslim Acehnese from the Aceh Sultanate performed suicide attacks known as Parang-sabil against Dutch invaders during the Aceh War. It was considered as part of personal jihad in the Islamic religion of the Acehnese. The Dutch called it Atjèh-moord,[46][47][48] (literally "Aceh-murder"). The Acehnese work of literature, the Hikayat Perang Sabil provided the background and reasoning for the "Aceh-mord"- Acehnese suicide attacks upon the Dutch.[49][50][51] The Indonesian translations of the Dutch terms are Aceh bodoh (Aceh pungo) or Aceh gila (Aceh mord).[52]

Atjèh-moord was also used against the Japanese by the Acehnese during the Japanese occupation of Aceh.[53] The Acehnese Ulama (Islamic clerics) fought against both the Dutch and the Japanese, revolting against the Dutch in February 1942 and against Japan in November 1942. The revolt was led by the All-Aceh Religious Scholars' Association (PUSA). The Japanese suffered 18 dead in the uprising while they slaughtered up to 100 or over 120 Acehnese.[54][55] The revolt happened in Bayu and was centred around Tjot Plieng village's religious school.[56][57][58][59] During the revolt, the Japanese troops armed with mortars and machine guns were charged by sword wielding Acehnese under Teungku Abduldjalil (Tengku Abdul Djalil) in Buloh Gampong Teungah and Tjot Plieng on 10 and 13 November.[60][61][62][63][64][65][66] On May 1945 the Acehnese rebelled again.[67]

Moro Juramentado[edit]

Main article: Juramentado

Moro Muslims who performed suicide attacks were called mag-sabil, and the suicide attacks were known as Parang-sabil.[68] The Spanish called them juramentado. The idea of the juramentado was considered part of jihad in the Moros' Islamic religion. During an attack, a Juramentado would throw himself at his targets and kill them with bladed weapons such as barongs and kris until he himself was killed. The Moros performed juramentado suicide attacks against the Spanish in the Spanish–Moro conflict of the 16th to the 19th centuries, against the Americans in the Moro Rebellion (1899–1913), and against the Japanese in World War II.[69]

The Moro Juramentados aimed their attacks specifically against their enemies, and not against non-Muslims in general. They launched suicide attacks on the Japanese, Spanish, Americans and Filipinos, but did not attack the non-Muslim Chinese as the Chinese were not considered enemies of the Moro people.[70][71][72][73][74] The Japanese responded to these suicide attacks by massacring all known family members and relatives of the attacker(s).[75][76]

According to historian Stephan Dale, the Moro were not the only Muslims who carried out suicide attacks "in their fight against Western hegemony and colonial rule". In the 18th century, suicide tactics were used on the Malabar coast of Southwestern India, in Atjeh (Acheh) in Northern Sumatra as well.[17][77]


The first known suicide bomber was Russian.[78] The invention of dynamite in the 1860s presented revolutionary and terrorist groups in Europe with a weapon nearly twenty times more powerful than gunpowder, but with technical challenges to detonating it at the right time. One way around that obstacle was to use a human trigger, and this was the technique that assassinated Tsar Alexander II of Russia in 1881.[78][79] A would-be suicide-bomber killed Vyacheslav von Plehve, the Russian Minister of the Interior, in St Petersburg in 1904.[80]

Chinese suicide squads[edit]

During the Xinhai Revolution (the Revolution of 1911) and the Warlord Era of the Republic of China (1912–1949), "Dare to Die Corps" (traditional Chinese: 敢死隊; simplified Chinese: 敢死队; pinyin: gǎnsǐduì; Wade–Giles: Kan-tse-tui) or "Suicide squads"[81][82][83][84][85][86][87][88][89][90][91][excessive citations] were frequently used by Chinese armies. China deployed these suicide units against the Japanese during the Second Sino-Japanese War.

In the Xinhai Revolution, many Chinese revolutionaries became martyrs in battle. "Dare to Die" student corps were founded, for student revolutionaries wanting to fight against Qing dynasty rule. Dr. Sun Yatsen and Huang Xing promoted the Dare to Die corps. Huang said, "We must die, so let us die bravely."[92] Suicide squads were formed by Chinese students going into battle, knowing that they would be killed fighting against overwhelming odds.[93]

The 72 Martyrs of Huanghuagang died in the uprising that began the Wuchang Uprising, and were recognized as heroes and martyrs by the Kuomintang party and the Republic of China.[94] The martyrs in the Dare to Die Corps who died in battle wrote letters to family members before heading off to certain death. The Huanghuakang was built as a monument to the 72 martyrs.[95] The deaths of the revolutionaries helped the establishment of the Republic of China, overthrowing the Qing dynasty imperial system.[96] Other Dare to Die student corps in the Xinhai revolution were led by students who later became major military leaders in Republic of China, like Chiang Kai-shek,[97] and Huang Shaoxiong with the Muslim Bai Chongxi against Qing dynasty forces.[98][99][100] "Dare to Die" troops were used by warlords.[101] The Kuomintang used one to put down an insurrection in Canton.[102] Many women joined them in addition to men to achieve martyrdom against China's opponents.[103][104] They were known as 烈士 "Lit-she" (Martyrs) after accomplishing their mission.[105]

During the January 28 Incident a dare to die squad struck against the Japanese.[106]

Suicide bombing was also used against the Japanese. A "dare to die corps" was effectively used against Japanese units at the Battle of Taierzhuang.[107][108][109][110][111][112][113] They used swords.[114][115] They wore suicide vests made out of grenades.[116][117]

A Chinese soldier detonated a grenade vest and killed 20 Japanese soldiers at Sihang Warehouse. Chinese troops strapped explosives like grenade packs or dynamite to their bodies and threw themselves under Japanese tanks to blow them up.[118] This tactic was used during the Battle of Shanghai, to stop a Japanese tank column when an attacker exploded himself beneath the lead tank,[119] and at the Battle of Taierzhuang where Chinese troops with dynamite and grenades strapped to themselves rushed Japanese tanks and blew themselves up,[120][121][122][123] in one incident obliterating four Japanese tanks with grenade bundles.[124][125]

During the 1946–1950 Communist Revolution, coolies fighting the Communists formed "Dare to Die Corps" to fight for their organizations, with their lives.[126] During the Tiananmen Square Incident of 1989, protesting students also formed "Dare to Die Corps", to risk their lives defending the protest leaders.[127]

Japanese Kamikaze[edit]

Main articles: Japanese Special Attack Units, Kamikaze, Kaiten, Banzai charge, Fukuryu, and Shinyo (suicide boat)

Kamikaze, a ritual act of self-sacrifice carried out by Japanese pilots of explosive-laden aircraft against Allied warships, occurred on a large scale at the end of World War II. About 3000 attacks were made and about 50 ships were sunk.[128]

Later in the war, as Japan became more desperate, this act became formalized and ritualized, as planes were outfitted with explosives specific to the task of a suicide mission.[129] Kamikaze strikes were a weapon of asymmetric war used by the Empire of Japan against United States Navy and Royal Navyaircraft carriers, although the armoured flight deck of the Royal Navy carriers diminished Kamikaze effectiveness. The Japanese Navy also used piloted torpedoes called kaiten ("Heaven shaker") on suicide missions. Although sometimes called midget submarines, these were modified versions of the unmanned torpedoes of the time and are distinct from the torpedo-firing midget submarines used earlier in the war, which were designed to infiltrateshore defenses and return to a mother ship after firing their torpedoes. Although extremely hazardous, these midget submarine attacks were not technically suicide missions, as the earlier midget submarines had escape hatches. Kaitens, however, provided no means of escape.[130][131]


During the Battle for Berlin the Luftwaffe flew "Self-sacrifice missions" (Selbstopfereinsatz) against Soviet bridges over the River Oder. These 'total missions' were flown by pilots of the Leonidas Squadron. From April 17–20, 1945, using any available aircraft, the Luftwaffe claimed the squadron had destroyed 17 bridges, however military historian Antony Beevor when writing about the missions thinks that this was exaggerated and that only the railway bridge at Küstrin was definitely destroyed. He comments that "thirty-five pilots and aircraft was a high price to pay for such a limited and temporary success". The missions were called off when the Soviet ground forces reached the vicinity of the squadron's airbase at Jüterbog.[132]

Rudolf Christoph Freiherr von Gersdorff intended to assassinate Adolf Hitler by suicide bomb in 1943, but was unable to complete the attack.[133]

Korean War[edit]

North Korean tanks were attacked by South Koreans with suicide tactics during the Korean War.[134][135]

American tanks at Seoul were attacked by North Korean suicide squads,[136]

The number of suicide attacks grew enormously after 2000.[14]
Chinese suicide bomber putting on 24 hand grenade-explosive vest prior to attack on Japanese tanks at the Battle of Taierzhuang.

What Motivates Suicide Bombers?

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Ever since the Muslim extremists attacked the World Trade Centers, the word extremist fits in the same category as being a terrorist also, known as the suicide bomber. People never know when a tragedy such as a bombing could happen, some examples could be: Boston Marathon, Poe Elementary School bombing, and in 2005 The University of Oklahoma bombing. Just think a bombing could occur at any day time or hour.
To start off the role of a suicide bomber from their views is to, go on a mission and kill their target as well as killing their selves. The biggest motivation for a suicide bomber is the despair and hopelessness in their lives. They also get motivated because of promises of afterlife’s, not to mention American imperialism (Lauri Friedman). Suicide bombers can be from any age and have all kinds of educational backgrounds. Their personal lives differ and what goes on at home can be a reason for their decisions of becoming one (Lauri Friedman).
Islamic schools groom suicide bombers. The system has become a hatchery for tens of thousands of muttons who have spread conflict around the world. This conflict has become more of a problem then just suicides. Suicide bombers are normally people who don’t think they have anything to live for, so they decide to kill their selves in order to kill their enemies. Eventually all people must become Muslims before they can be an actual suicide bomber. Some children don’t have homes and are forced to sleep on the cold school floors. Others may sleep in tents on the cold hard ground. Suicide bombers mainly try to kill their enemy. If they do not have an enemy, they may create an enemy first, such as Iranian and Islamic people. They both hate America in some way (Lauri Friedman).
Children an suicide bombers and some Islamic parents make their kids become a suicide bomber just because they can. As a child they would have no choice but to obey their parents. Television shows that are violent really influence the mind of a bomber. Any electronic device can seriously harm their minds to a point where there is no return. The bomber acts in contests with the others who put their own values ahead and reinforce attitudes (Lauri Friedman). The suicide bomber has been around for 33 years that’s over 3 century’s The first suicide bomber was found in 1980.

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Suicide bombers can bomb anything in any way this means by car, train, bus, plane or even on foot. Their appearance is un noticeable they could look like anyone they can be sitting right next to you and you wouldn’t even know it. Just like during the Boston marathon no one knew their, were going to be an explosion right their during that runners race that Boston has held for century’s. And don’t forget about nine eleven when one of the most shocking most tragic event that has ever happened hit New York City when two planes were hijacked buy Islamic suicide bomber were flown right into the twin towers or also known as the World Trade Center thousands were killed and thousands were severely injured. Hundreds of families were broken apart after that day. The world may never be the same to them.
To overpower a terrorist you must understand what constantly goes through their mind everyday. Messing with their network is not a good way to overrule a terrorist. The only way terrorism could possibly be prevented is by changing the mind of the terrorist. Islamic terrorist are motivated by social psychological needs. Terrorist are often ignorant about Islam. When Muslims are prejudice against Islam it encourages terrorism. If you want to beat a terrorist, you must start by helping rebuild the self esteem of the terrorist, because terrorism builds off of bad thoughts. People by the name of radicals only believe that the true assurance of salvation for a Muslims is to be a suicide bomber. According to Osama bin Laden, “the call to Jihad in God’s name leads to eternal life in the end, and is relief from your earthly chains.” (Extremism 79). Suicide bombers have become a factor for several products, we have discovered that religion is not the main promoter of a suicide bomber; we have also learned that suicide bombers may not come from extreme institutions either. We aren’t very sure where suicide bombers come from.
Here is a quote from Osama bin laden:
”Osama bin Laden’s statements are shrouded in religious references, but he cites the persecution of Islam in communal terms: ‘Its sons are being killed, its blood is being shed, its holy places are being attacked,” (Extremism84).
A lot of Islam’s will try to use cyberspace to endorse their messages to people. It isn’t a simple thing to be a suicide bomber. They go through so many troubling trials that leads them to the point of wanting to kill others and themselves. The best weapon against a terrorist would be to create a safe place, which would most likely be public, so that the earlier extremist can share and talk freely about what is on their mind. When someone is talking about a terrorist or suicide bomber it is hard to change the mind of one. Muslim fundamentalists cant be persuaded by talk. Teaching is a vital thing in being a terrorist, one kind would be recognizing authority and the other would be men of learning. People must be taught to achieve what they want in everyday life and the same goes for the Islamic people that become suicide bombers (Extremist114).
Now suicide bombers can be considered a good thing if it is thought about. Only because if it weren’t for them, people wouldn’t have the history that they teach today. Everyday classes of history are based on what has happened throughout the years, so no one can take that away (Extremism 116). People in today’s time think that suicide bombers are just a myth, but the word myth has a different meaning. The kind of myth meant here is that the reality of the whole matter is when the bombing happens, but the characterization is the only thing that has changed. The action will never be changed because it goes back to when tragedies have happened, but some try to hide the truth (Impatient).
Israel people use those kinds of myths to cover the fact that they will attack their “allies”. Cyber-attacks are becoming threats against the United States, according to the head of the FBI. Terrorist or suicide bombers are everywhere the person right next to you could be an actual bomber; their disguises are just like an average human. They act the same as everyone else they just have explosives on them somewhere and with the push of a button or call of a phone can trigger the bomb whenever they feel the time is right. Suicide bombers have many different methods of bombing there is cyber bombing which means the suicide bomber can send a direct hit to anyone through an electronic devise such as computer or cell phone. Another type of bombing is vehicle bombing which is stealing a car train plane boat or anything drivable or even remote controlled cars or toys can or may be laced with a bomb to get a hit on someone. Suicide bombers are everywhere and could be anyone.
The suicide bomber may be a male or a female studies show that suicide bombers are usually male none really knows why they just are. ‘’Since the attack on the World Trade Center in on September 11, 2001 the world has grown accustomed to reports of "suicide bombers." They are often portrayed as deluded or crazed, and they hold an almost lurid fascination for their willingness to kill themselves while killing others.’’ (Jeffery Williams Lewis)
Suicide bombers are most commonly known as the terrorist another name is extremist. The main reason a suicide bomber do what they do is because they think they have nothing left to live for because of all the negative things people say to them. They don’t do this for money or as a job they kill people because they feel if they don’t deserve to live why should anyone else deserve to live just because of things that have happened in the past. Some things that may trigger them to turn into this killing machine may be they’ve lost their job a family member or witnessed a lot of deaths, Another reason may be because they were bullied as kids people think this may be the main reason the suicide bomber becomes what they are. They become this killer to go and take a hit out on all the people that gave them hell as kids. Suicide bombers are everywhere remember they are people just like all of us and hopefully the government will soon take out all of the remaining or upcoming suicide bombers before they take out more and more innocent women and children, and hopefully the world may become a better place.

Work Cited
Friedman, Lauri, and Lauri Friedman. What Motivates Suicide Bombers?. Detroit:
Greenhaven Press, 2005. 7-83. Print.
Impatient, . "The Myth Of The Suicide Bomber." Liberty Liberty Forum, 7
Lewis, Jeffrey. "The Human Use of Human Beings: A Brief History of Suicide Bombing." the Goldberg center, n.d. Web. 11 Nov 2013.
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Willis, Laurie. Extremism Opposing Viewpoints. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2011. 20-40.

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