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Suicide Bombing Isn’t Faith-Based

Angry Blog: Christopher Hitchens: “Of the suicide bombing population, 100% are faith-based.” (at 52 min) "Wrong. Prior to 2003, the leading suicide bombing organization was the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lankda, a secular, Marxist-influenced separatist group."  Robert Pape, the leading … Read More

By / August 31, 2007

Angry Blog:

Christopher Hitchens: “Of the suicide bombing population, 100% are faith-based.” (at 52 min)

"Wrong. Prior to 2003, the leading suicide bombing organization was the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lankda, a secular, Marxist-influenced separatist group."

 Robert Pape, the leading American scholar on suicide bombings, shows in an absurdly illuminating article that the origins of terrorism are not in Islamic fundamentalism but rather in firsthand experience of foreign—particularly US—occupation. He writes:

 The evidence shows that the presence of American troops is clearly the pivotal factor driving suicide terrorism. If Islamic fundamentalism were the pivotal factor, then we should see some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world, like Iran, which has 70 million people—three times the population of Iraq and three times the population of Saudi Arabia—with some of the most active groups in suicide terrorism against the United States. However, there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Iran, and we have no evidence that there are any suicide terrorists in Iraq from Iran. Sudan is a country of 21 million people. Its government is extremely Islamic fundamentalist. The ideology of Sudan was so congenial to Osama bin Laden that he spent three years in Sudan in the 1990s. Yet there has never been an al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from Sudan. I have the first complete set of data on every al-Qaeda suicide terrorist from 1995 to early 2004, and they are not from some of the largest Islamic fundamentalist countries in the world. Two thirds are from the countries where the United States has stationed heavy combat troops since 1990. Another point in this regard is Iraq itself. Before our invasion, Iraq never had a suicide-terrorist attack in its history. Never. Since our invasion, suicide terrorism has been escalating rapidly with 20 attacks in 2003, 48 in 2004, and over 50 in just the first five months of 2005. Every year that the United States has stationed 150,000 combat troops in Iraq, suicide terrorism has doubled.”

Tim Lee at The American Scene adds:

"It’s fascinating how close the correlation is between the 9/11 hijackers and US deployments. 15 of the 19 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, which hosted thousands of American troops at the time of the 9/11 attack. Two more were from the United Arab Emirates, which is currently host to about 1100 American troops. Another is from Egypt, which has 384 American troops as part of a peacekeeping force on the Sinai Peninsula, and also carried a Saudi passport. And the final hijacker was from Lebanon, a country that doesn’t currently have any American troops, but he was seven when Israel invaded Lebanon and eight at the time of the barracks bombing, two events that could easily have made a big impression on him.Among the hijackers there were no Iranians, Syrians, Sudanese, or residents of other countries where radical Islam flourish but the United States did not have a troop presence. No Iraqis either."

I hope that this will be the beginning of the end for all those that find comfort—and an excuse not to seriously confront the issue—in the generalization that Islam, the religion, is the source of today’s evils. It might be of use to novelists, too, who'll have to go beyond the Wikipedia page on Islam in order to create the believable psychology of a suicide bomber.  

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