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Mind of a suicide bomber?

Fresh wave of suicide bombings (Karachi, Orakzai) under-scores need for understanding mind of a suicide bomber. `Motivation, opportunity and capacity’ are sine qua non of any act good or evil. True, a US-House-of-Representative resolution dated February 18, 2012 and Delhi-based `Free Balochistan Office (working since 23 June 2018) supports Baloch unrest. Yet, motivation for killing oneself and several other innocent persons appears to be politically, rather than religiously, motivated.

Holy Quran and ahadith forbid taking one’s own life or of other innocent people (even if they are slaves).  They Quran says, “And commit not suicide…whoever shall do this maliciously and wrongfully, we will in the end cast him into the fire; for this is easy with God”.

The ahadith provide penalty of life for life, ear for ear, tooth for tooth, so on. Aside from suicides by healthy Muslim, even killing of terminally ill Muslims by themselves or by others (euthanasia) is not unanimously supported by all jurists. Some outfits equate it with jihad.  But, according to ahadith and verses, an individual cannot wage jihad (farzul Ayn), only a country or a government can do so (farzul kifaya).

Professor Robert Pape of University of Chicago based his book, Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, argues that `the connection between suicide attacks and religion is exaggerated and that suicide terrorism is “mainly a response to foreign occupation” (Is Pakistan under foreign occupation?). in Mohammed M. Hafez under chapter `Explanations of Suicide Terrorism’ in his book Manufacturing Human Bombs  points out `Religious fanaticism is one of the most common explanation of why individuals volunteer to become human bombs (p.9 ibid.). `But despite its intuitive appeal, this explanation is not entirely convincing.  Political environment is a crucial determinant of the credibility of their appeals’ (p.10 ibid.). The author points out that secular persons and groups have been in the forefront of suicide bombers.

They include Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, PKK fighting for independence from Turkey, , Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade, besides Japanese kamikaze (hot winds) of World War II.  In recent history, suicide attacks began during 1981-83 in Lebanon.

A group of five secular groups spearheaded the attacks.  Just four months after 58 French troopers and 248 US marines were killed in attack on US Embassy in Beirut, the US troops left Lebanon (S.  Alam, Suicide Bomber: Phenomenon, Strategy and Future, p.51)

Michael Walzer, in his book Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations argues  that those engaged terrorism can be morally justified  when a nation or community faces the extreme threat of complete destruction and the only way it can preserve itself is by intentionally targeting  non-combatants. Is Pakistan under foreign occupation?

We need to unmask `religiosity’ of suicide terrorists. And, balm their political wounds, if any.

Abdul Hameed Malik

Islamabad

 

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