New information about the identity of the suicide attackers presents a fresh picture that casts the role of Islamic fundamentalism in a new light. I spent a year leading a team of researchers who collected detailed evidence on the ideological and other demographic characteristics of suicide terrorists. The results show that at least thirty of the forty-one attackers do not fit the description of Islamic fundamentalism. Twenty-seven were communists or socialists with no commitment to religious extremism; three were Christians. Only eight suicide attackers were affiliated with Islamic fundamentalism; the ideological affiliation of three cannot be identified. Moreover, although Iran did provide money and other support to the Lebanese resistance fighters, the rise of Hezbollah and large popluar support for the movement were directly caused by a clear external event, Israel's massive occupation of southern Lebanon in 1982. Further, although religion was a recruiting tool, examination of the logic of martyrdom articulated by Hezbollah and other Lebanese political leaders overwhelmingly justified suicide terrorists acts, commonly called "self-martyr" operations, as an extreme measure necessary to end foreign occupation of the homeland, while explicitly ruling out such acts as an end in themselves or for other, even religious, goals.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, I argue that religious difference-not Islam-played the key enabling role in causing suicide terrorism in Lebanon. Although foreign occupation created the necessary basis for armed resistance, the religious schism between the occupiers' societies and the occupied society enabled resistance leaders to inflame nationalist sentiments to the point that the occupied community supoprted and glorified suicide terrorism. Fear of a religiously motivated occupier, more than anything in Islam, encouraged a significant level of community support for extreme self-sacrifice to end the occupation. (p129-130)
Saturday, November 14, 2009
More on Christian Suicide Terrorists
An excerpt from Pape's Dying to Win with regards to suicide terrorists from Lebanon, where there exists a significant Christian population: