This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Security Journal (2007) 20, 267–283. doi:10.1057/palgrave.sj.8350029
Suicide Terrorism: Is Religion the Critical Factor?
Matthew B Capella and Emile Sahliyeha
Department of Political Science, University of North Texas, P.O. Box 305340, Denton, TX 76203, U.S.A. Email: SAHLIYEH@UNT.EDU Topof page
The purpose of this article is to investigate empirically the validity of the argument that the religious nature of the terrorist groups accounts for the increase in terrorism's lethality today. In an attempt to explore the relationship between religion and terrorism's newfound lethality, the study utilizes the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism's (ICT) "International Terrorism" database between 1980 and 2002. It employs Ordinary Least Squares regressions to test the hypotheses concerning the effects of religion, suicide bombing, and the intermingling of the two, on the number of terrorist-related deaths and civilian casualties. The study concludes that to understand modern terrorism's increased lethality, one needs to look further than religion as a motive and take into account modern terrorists' willingness to use "suicide terror" as their primary modus operandi.
Keywords: old terrorism, new terrorism, suicide bombing, fundamentalism, religious terrorism, Islamic radicalism Topof page
The 9-11 attack upon the United States in 2001, the bombings in Istanbul, Bali, Moscow, Madrid, Sharm el Sheik, and London among other places in 2003–2005 affirmed a notion relatively new to the terrorism literature today: terrorism has undergone a "change of face" and has become more lethal, and fatalities have increased in the process. These attacks have led to thousands of deaths and thousands more wounded. Many scholars argue that it is the fundamental nature of this "new breed" of terrorist, which many associate with a revival in religious fundamentalism, and more particularly Islamic fundamentalism, that has given terrorism its increased lethality today. This new breed of terrorist is more prone to extreme acts of indiscriminate violence owing to worldviews, processes of
Clark (1978). These studies have been driven by policy considerations testing the effectiveness of government anti-terrorism policy. and the tactics or modus operandi they employed.legitimization. The purpose of this article is to investigate empirically the validity of the argument that the religious nature of the terrorist groups accounts for the increase in terrorism's lethality today. .Moodie (1978). which has become popular with many groups active today. such as conflict. This literature has been mostly qualitative. accounts for terrorism's new lethality. Horchem (1986). we will utilize the International Policy Institute for CounterTerrorism's (ICT) "International Terrorism" database between 1980 and 2002. it seems to have become an effective and extremely lethal way of carrying out their missions and delivering their messages to the watching world. In addition. In an effort to understand modern terrorism's increased lethality. on the choice of retaliation. Cox (1982). and mindsets different from those of their predecessors. It generally concentrated on the origins of terrorist groups. Pisano (1989). left-wing terrorist groups. and on the efficacy of a repressive retaliatory policy. and democratization. they are far outnumbered by those employing the more traditional approach. Though there have been some quantitative studies. and Wilkinson (1979). In our attempt to explore the relationship between religion and terrorism's increased lethality." focusing on the ideologically left-wing terrorist groups that once dominated the international terrorist arena. Studies that typified this approach are those byBell (1975). group structure and motivations. This form of terrorism. The increased vulnerability of many facets of our modern society – including its economic and financial centres. Hyams (1975). 1970s. the tactic of suicide terrorism. Laqueur (1977). Palmer (1989). Earlier literature revolved around work on what is now sometimes called the "old terrorism. in contrast to the "old terrorism" of the 1960s. warfare. we propose that scholars need to look further than religion as a motive and take into account modern terrorists' willingness to use "suicide terror" as their primary modus operandi. and focused upon a single case study. Attention has been mainly paid to whether governments should negotiate with terrorists." which many claim to be behind modern terrorism's new lethality. which appears to empower the weak and render the strong powerless against it. biographies of important leaders. and 1980s. the study provides an overview of the literature that deals with "new terrorism. and tourist facilities together with the availability of communications and transportation means that enable terrorists to establish international networks and to operate globally – further underscore the seriousness of religious terrorism. We maintain that in addition to the role of religion. To those employing such means. has ancient beginnings and is by no means new or innovative. Topof page Old terrorism The systematic study of terrorism is a relatively new enterprise when compared to other fields of study. historical. transportation systems.
and the many innocents affected by the global reach of terrorism). while today's organizations are less structured. the differences between new terrorism and old terrorism. 2001). "the new terrorism" (Kushner. Adding to these studies. the Jenkins et al. and what this means for those concerned about terrorism (academics. Mickolus (1977). Most of this literature deals with the increase in religious-based terrorist groups since the end of the Cold War. Mickolus et al. They examine the effects of terrorism as opposed to its causes and began to push the field in a new direction. Gleason (1981).They were less concerned with the origins of terrorism or historical descriptions. 2001) also discusses this "new terrorism" and the role that religion is playing within these new terrorist groups. (1989). rather than solely looking at terrorism at the domestic level. for example. Kushner describes the nature of the new terrorist threat and how it differed from the old and suggests that these new types of terrorists are less sophisticated than their predecessors and less organized than their secular counterparts. and cell-oriented. He argues that they are fostered by spiritual leaders. global terrorism was predominantly secular in orientation and either left-wing. and Enders and Sandler (1993. which may help to explain the massive increase in the use of suicide bombing as a main modus operandi today (Kushner. and Mickolus studies examine the symptoms of terrorism as opposed to its origins. making them more difficult to spot and intercept. or nationalist-extremist in nature. 17). students and observers of terrorism have been acutely concerned with what Harvey Kushner has referred to as. much has been added to the literature about how terrorism has changed since the 1960s and 1970s. 1998. In the last two decades. right-wing. For instance. He explains how 20–30 years ago. Laqueur (1999. Topof page The changing face of terrorism Since the 1990s. In his 1998 work. Kushner's coining of the term "new terrorism" came shortly after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993. including works by Hamilton and Hamilton (1983). the disappearance of most left-wing groups. not hierarchical. He attributed this change to the rise of Islamic revivalism after the toppling of the Shah of Iran in 1979 and to the rise of an Islamic revolutionary movement in the Middle East. Enders and Sandler (1993) measured the effectiveness of counterterrorism policies during the Carter and Reagan administrations. Kushner's (1994) work was one of the first contributions written about the changing nature of the terrorist threat. Im et al. making counterterrorism that much more difficult. 1994). and build on Gurr's study by taking their level of analysis to the international level. (1987). 2000. They have consisted initially of basic tabulation. policymakers. p. (1977). Since then. more sophisticated analysis has been published. He states that the structure of the terrorist groups made older groups easier to fight. BrophyBaermann and Conybeare (1994)Turetzky (1998). but that since then there has been a sharp increase in the number of radical religious movements that have had a . and Gurr (1968. 1979). Jenkins et al.
1998a. but also as necessary to attain their goals. In the wake of 9-11. 1993. they believe that their struggle is divinely mandated. Like Kushner. "terrorism has appeared in many guises" and this "new terrorism" seems to just be the latest trend. Bruce Hoffman. and practical constraints from its practitioners. but these new groups deliberately work to maximize their carnage in trying to achieve their aims. Secular terrorists generally consider such indiscriminate violence immoral and counterproductive. Laqueur (2001. no longer seems to hold true. 1998a. 2001. For the religious terrorist. He argues that their aims are monumental. 37). capabilities. The once widely perceived notion that terrorists wanted more people watching and listening than dead. 1998b) believes that the new religious groups differ from the secular groups in that they have radically different value systems. He argues that terrorism assumes a transcendental dimension." between good and evil. and nuclear. which lifts political. the usual reluctance to use brutality indiscriminately disappears. He suggests that religion. adding that this is not a new phenomenon and that many groups in the past have engaged in such horrifying acts.significant impact on contemporary terrorism. Benjamin notes that these groups express their grievances in terms of religion and draw upon Koranic verses to justify their actions. He suggests that though many who use suicide terror tactics today are Islamic groups. other groups. Laqueur too discusses the role of suicide missions in these organizations. Hoffman (1993. different concepts of morality. such as the nationalist LTTE. "seeking nothing less than a vast redistribution of global power and a geopolitical revolution that would end the hegemony of the United States and its Western allies" (Benjamin. also employ such methods. Religious terrorists view indiscriminate violence not only as morally justified. p. He contends that the world may be entering a period of increased bloodshed and violence. 71) reiterates that. different mechanisms of legitimization and justification. and they adhere to a Manichean world view. Benjamin (2001) offers a succinct and detailed account of how these new terrorist groups differ from the old terrorist groups and examines the nature and attributes of these groups. He points out how these groups were born on the fringe of several religions and advises us not to blame any one religion for the crimes committed by a minority. notably one of the world's leading experts on terrorism. p. and modus operandi. 2). He further states that religiously inspired terrorists may be much more likely to entertain the notion of using weapons of mass destruction – chemical. shatters some of our most basic beliefs and assumptions about terrorists. He states that when groups base their actions in terms of a "metaphysical struggle. as the "driving force" behind the increased lethality in contemporary modern terrorism. their goals. moral. argues that religion is the most defining characteristic of terrorist groups today and is the cause of terrorism's recent increased lethality (Hoffman. 1998b). The old groups sought incremental change in a manner that avoided massive bloodletting. "violence is first and foremost a sacramental act or divine duty executed in direct response to some theological demand or imperative" (Hoffman. biological. Religion as a legitimizing force for such violence "explains why . constraints that in the past seemed to affect other terrorists in target selection and lethality. p.
the restraints on secular groups. Echoing Hoffman's arguments about the effects these worldviews have on lifting constraints on the means of terror. 2000. In a religious war. p. 1998b. marked by the watershed events of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. appear to account for the increase in the severity of these attacks. Hoffman (1993. but also Jewish assassins in Israel. Many of these groups view their struggle as a battle between good and evil. applied time series techniques to investigate the current threat posed by transnational terrorist incidents. in more recent years they find that. In summary. p. makes the destruction of the enemy group much easier." The idea of a "cosmic struggle" of Manichean proportions is shared by many of today's "new breed" of terrorist and has dire consequences in terms of its lethality. are not relevant to the religious terrorist. there are no constraints. radical Hindus and Sikhs in India. 54). he points out that "on a cosmic battlefield. . 4). rather one destroys evil. or "cosmic" in proportion. utilizing the ITERATE databases. Enders and Sandler (2000). Juergensmeyer (2000) points out that those activists from nearly all religious traditions around the world have become involved in religiously inspired terrorism today. and in terms of a "cosmic war. a terrorist Buddhist sect in Japan. 329). Likewise. 1998b) also argues that religious terrorists differ in their constituencies. and also Christian militants in the United States. Their conclusion adds support to Hoffman's hypothesis. "each incident is almost 17 percentage points more likely to result in death or injuries" (Enders and Sandler. These individuals are not only Islamic suicide bombers in the Middle East. and all actions are justified" (White 2002. p. According to Hoffman. In a similar vein. religious terrorists have no other constituency but themselves and their belief in a higher power. Thus. 1998a. one does not destroy human beings. Whereas secular terrorists aim to send a message to the general public or government. this leads to a sanctioning of almost limitless violence and goes far to explain the increased lethality of these groups today. He adds that for those in their final hours. He argues that to understand the "new terrorism" we need first to understand the role of eschatology. and the role the idea of "cosmic war" plays in the worldviews of these individuals. And the process of "demonization" and "dehumanization" of the enemy and equating another group with some sort of cosmic evil. The authors find that although the actual number of transnational incidents has declined dramatically during the post-Cold War period. 1998a.clerical sanction is so important to religious terrorists and why religious figures are often required to 'bless' terrorist operations before they are executed" (Hoffman. wishing to appeal for the support of a constituency. They fight for a holy cause. Armageddon's warriors need no further justification to bear arms. White (2002) argues that mixing end of time theology with political beliefs is a prescription for violence with consequences that are indeed dramatic. the Hoffman thesis (as it has often been referred to) is that an increase in religiously inspired terrorist groups has led to an increase in terroristrelated fatalities. They suggest that the growth of religious terrorism.
political Islam. a proliferation of previously unknown groups (ethnic separatists and Marxists) has consistently dominated the top 10 (Johnson. p. 901). Those who sacrifice themselves for a greater cause are also rewarded in heaven with forgiveness for their sins. He argues. For example. then how could they be responsible for the increase in fatalities? Jane's Intelligence Review says that the threat posed by suicide terrorism is spreading around the globe and is not only limited to religious groups (Jane's Intelligence Review. Likewise. the 1990s saw a significant increase in the number of people injured because of these attacks. "has carried out 168 suicide terror attacks in Sri Lanka and India. proximity to God. 3). In his survey of 350 Palestinians living in refugee camps in Lebanon. leaving thousands of innocent bystanders dead or wounded" (Schweitzer.. According to Yoram Schweitzer of the International Policy Institute of Counter-terrorism. LTTE. he found evidence to the contrary. LTTE is not a religious group. His study finds that political Islam does indeed play a crucial role in fomenting proneness to participation in suicide attacks. but rather. a number of Middle East area scholars attribute varying degrees of suicide terrorism to Islamic fundamentalism. Its suicide unit commonly referred to as "The Black Panthers" is comprised of both men and women and has left countless individuals. p. which began during the 1980s. This would refute Hoffman's thesis because if there has not been an increase in religiously inspired groups. In his 2001 article. Schweitzer (2001) argues that the Kurdish PKK. secessionist- . 2001. 1). which is associated with high prestige and status within the society. 2000. between July 1987 and February 2000. the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam (LTTE) is widely recognized as one of the most lethal terrorist groups functioning today. both high-ranking officials and civilians. but is nationalist in nature. dead. during the 1990s. does not fully agree with Hoffman and the other writers cited above. While the arguments of these different writers taken together add much support for Hoffman's view that it is the increase in religiously inspired terrorism that accounts for the increased lethality of today's "new terrorism. Johnson suggests that there was indeed a reduction in the number of terrorist incidents." other writers differ with such contentions. where dismal poverty coalesces with radical Islam. and poverty. Khashan (2003)concludes that support for suicide bombing is due to "Palestinian collective frustration. a secular. Hamas and Islamic Jihad) to carry out suicide bombing to force Israel to accept their demand for the creation of an independent Palestinian State. 127) observes that the elimination of injustice and humiliation are behind the centrality of martyrdom in Shi'a Islam. eternal happiness. and they are not religiously inspired. especially among refugee camp inhabitants.g. Yet. Ghorayeb (2002." The findings of his research ascertain that support for suicide bombings is the outcome of a deep sense of "national humiliation" by the Palestinians leading Islamic groups (e. however. and virgins. that religiously motivated groups have not supplanted other traditional separatist groups.Johnson (2001) for instance. p. Israeli (2002)attributes the increase in the use of suicide attacks by Islamic religious terrorist groups to martyrdom. p.In addition to these general observations about new terrorism and suicide attacks. 2001.
invasion in 2003 is reportedly carried out by fundamentalist groups. but it is neither necessary nor sufficient. Ghadbian (2000) does not believe that Islam as a religion is behind much of modern terrorism." Likewise. . we propose to use the organizations that have been classified by the International Policy ICT as religious terrorist groups as an instrument to measure the effects of religion upon the increasing lethality of terrorism. one cannot rule out the possibility that secular groups opposed to the United States. are behind violence and counter-violence by the disenfranchised and the marginalized groups in the society.S. is due to the willingness to sacrifice one's life for a cause by engaging in acts of suicide terror. and their use of coercion. are providing tactical and material support to the suicide bombers. We recognize. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. In his study of the profiles of more than 50 suicide bombers. which suggests that there is a link between the rise of religiously inspired terrorism and the increased lethality of contemporary terrorism. carried out 16 suicide attacks plus five that were foiled between 1996 and 1999. whether religious. including former Ba'athist supporters of the Saddam Hussein regime. data. or secular. although many of them detest American policy in the Middle East. Topof page Hypotheses. Scott Atran (2004) does not believe that Muslims who support suicide attacks automatically abhor democratic norms and freedoms and Western culture. and measurement In the remaining pages of this study. Given this controversy in the existing literature. is it possible then that religion may not necessarily be the only connecting thread in terrorism's new lethality? Are there characteristics these groups share that may account for the increase in this observed phenomenon? We maintain that any analysis of the lethality of contemporary terrorism must first consider this caveat: not all of the most deadly terrorist groups active today are religious. as the two together legitimize for many terrorist organizations resistance to oppression. a Palestinian nationalist group very active in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict today. He also maintains that economic inequality and rising unemployment among the semi-educated and young people furnish a fertile ground for extremist groups to recruit followers. the repressive political environment in the Middle East. we will test the validity of the proposition advanced by Hoffman and others. or subjugation to a military occupation. We recognize that it is not easy to operationalize religion independent from politics. He maintains that the failure of Middle Eastern governments to guarantee basic civil liberties and political rights for their citizens explains to a large degree their support for suicide terrorism. Although much of the daily suicide bombing taking place in Iraq since the U. nationalist.oriented group demanding Kurdish autonomy from Turkey. injustice. Merari (2004) concludes that suicide bombing's "neither an Islamic phenomenon nor a religious phenomenon: religion is just one more element in the persuasion. In his opinion. We further argue that the increase in the lethality of many of the terrorist groups active today. Nevertheless. He maintains that Islam is neither violent nor pacifist. leftist. is yet another example. the dictatorial rule of most of the governments in the region.
e. Any study on the lethality of terrorism that does not include such groups would seem flawed and incomplete. The finding of this hypothesis would help us to determine if the claim that this "new breed" of religious terrorist is more indiscriminate in nature than more traditional nationalist or left-wing groups. as they are some of the most lethal terrorist organizations active today. With these two cautionary notes. For instance. as well as those involved in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict). Our purpose in testing this hypothesis is to determine the effect of "suicide terror" on the lethality of today's terrorism. Still.. groups other than those only transnational in character (i.however. The interest in testing this hypothesis stems from our desire to discover if it would lend support to Bruce Hoffman's proposition that the increase in this "new breed" of religious terrorist is more lethal than the more nationalist or left-wing groups. as they pursue nationalist goals. it will offer additional support for Hoffman's arguments. leads to an increase in the number of deaths (Y1) from terrorist acts. we propose to test the following three hypotheses: H1: An increase in the number of terrorist organizations based on religious ideologies (X1). that not all of the terrorist groups that are classified as religious terrorist groups are divinely inspired or are engaged in a transcendental and cosmic war between evil and good. both would like to apply Islamic precepts in the conduct of daily life of the citizens. Some of the terrorist groups classified as religious terrorist groups carry out suicide attacks in pursuit of nationalist goals. . We also included in our study. H3: Terrorist groups employing "suicide terror" as a modus operandi (X3) result in more deaths (Y3) and lead to higher civilian casualties (Z3) than do other terrorist groups employing more traditional tactics. H2: The increase in religious terrorist groups (X2) leads to a higher number of civilian casualties (Y2) than other groups in the past. If this is the case. though Hamas and Hezballah do not share a transcendental view of the world with al-Qai'da. these groups are different from secular and leftist nationalist groups. domestic groups like Tamil Tigers and the PKK.
The technique of multiple regressions is used in statistical analyses so that the researcher can incorporate more than one independent variable into an equation for testing. To test the three hypotheses we outlined above concerning the effects of religion. which makes it necessary that we use dummy variables. That is. The appendix shows that most of the variables used are nominal in nature. while Civ2 refers to a count of the number of civilian casualties resulting from these attacks. . Killed refers to an actual count of the total number of fatalities from terrorist incidents. We employ three independent variables to test the dependent variables. we will use data provided by the International Policy Institute for ICT website. namely Nationalist groups (Nat) and Left-Wing groups (LW). and more acts by some types of groups in contrast to other types. 2002. In our analysis. The third variable (Rsuic) denotes whether the terrorist incident was a suicide bombing perpetrated by a religious group. and the intermingling of the two. which we use. Killed and Civ2. 1982). This website offers at no cost to the user a "Terror Attack Data Base" of selected international terrorist incidents. further. These control variables are needed because acts of terrorism are not homogeneous. Religious Group/Non-Religious Group (Achen. suicide bombing. and the number of terrorists involved (although this final part was not included in the data base at the time this research was done). or "indicator variables. the organization responsible.In testing our hypotheses. and cover 1. We also employ a number of control variables indicating in which region of the world (Reg1. Each incident is disaggregated into six different component parts: the date the incident took place. Dummy variables are often used as control variables in statistical analyses using multiple regressions and perform the same useful function here. cover the time period of 1 January. we employ Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) regressions. we use two dependent variables. Dummy variables." allow us to measure dichotomous attributes such as white/non-white. target type. the effects of particular independent variables can be made more certain. The first variable (Rel) indicates whether the attack is by a religious group. The ICT data set gives the researcher a potentially useful array of variables to employ in testing different hypotheses dealing with terrorism. 1980 to 1 January. The data. on the number of terroristrelated deaths and civilian casualties. there will likely be more terrorism in some countries than others.173 different terrorist incidents. location. Reg2. This is useful because it can aid in providing a fuller explanation of the dependent variables since very few phenomena are the result of only one factor and.) the attacks take place. etc. or as an example from this study. attack type. while the second variable (SuicideB) shows whether the attack was a suicide bombing. casualties (whether killed or injured). Appendix 1 outlines the variables we employ from the ICT database to test our three hypotheses. male/female. as well as variables denoting other types of terrorist organizations. Appendix 2 provides a description of the variables included in these dummy variables.
as they are accounted for in the constant. The first model employs the total number of people killed (Killed) as the dependent variable: Killed= + 1(Rel)+ 2(Nat)+ 3(Reg2)+ 4(Reg3)+ 5(Reg4)+ 6(Reg5)+ 7(Reg6)+ 8(SuicideB)+ 9(RSUIC)+ i. if any. See Appendices 1 and 2 for descriptions of the coding of the relevant variables employed in the above two OLS models. which may better explain the variance in the dependent variables. where religiously inspired suicide attacks result in 5. respectively: Civ2= + 1 (Rel)+ 2 (Nat)+ 3(Reg2)+ 4(Reg3)+ 5(Reg4)+ 6(Reg5)+ 7(Reg6)+ 8(SuicideB)+ 9(RSUIC)+ i. When looking at its coefficient.We use two different OLS regression models. Also included in these equations is another variable RSUIC (religious suicide bombing). while other variables are held constant. "old terrorism. Reg1 and LW are dropped to prevent saturation in the models. It reveals that the number of terrorist-related fatalities resulting from non-religious suicide bombing is highly significant (with a coefficient of 10. Topof page Findings and discussion Appendix 3 summarizes the results from the regression analysis in which Killed was used as the dependent variable. on average. that religiously inspired suicide bombings may have on either of the dependent variables." These findings confirm our proposition that groups using suicide terror as their modus operandi result in more fatalities than their more traditional counterparts.888 more deaths. but rather there is the possibility that it is a combination of variables (here. thus becoming reference points for the other independent variables. Appendix 3 also denotes that terrorism conducted by religious groups is statistically significant with a coefficient of 2.5 level of significance (one-tailed test).888 at the 0. The various regions in which these incidents occur are used as control variables. This supports the hypothesis that groups employing suicide terror are more deadly than their older counterparts. than the reference category: left-wing Middle Eastern groups.79) more deaths than older style groups that did not use such a tactic. it can be inferred that each non-religious suicide bombing attack is associated with close to 11 (10. This is added to account for the possibility that it is not only the effects that one of these independent variables has on the dependent variable which accounts for its variation." nationalist and religious groups which often use suicide terror as their main form of attack. This means that religiously motivated terror attacks during the period of our study (1980–2002) are responsible for 2.823 at the 0. an interaction variable that takes into account the effects. The second model uses the number of civilian casualties only (Civ2) to test the effects that both religion and suicide bombing have on each. This in effect provides a method to compare "old terrorism" (mostly left-wing and Middle Eastern in origin) to "new terrorism. Appendix 3 also shows that religion and suicide bombing make a deadly combination. in effect.6 more . the intermingling of religion and suicide bombing).01 level of significance (one-tailed test)).
terrorist attacks taking place in Eurasia lead to just over 5 (5. than those attacks by old-style groups. is significant with a coefficient of 0. This finding makes sense because most of the groups active in Europe have been mostly left-wing/secular groups of the older type.144 fewer civilian casualties per terrorist incident in Europe as compared to the Middle East.deaths than attacks by old-style terrorist groups. the intermingling of religion and suicide bombing as a tactic. Africa (Reg4). is also statistically significant with a coefficient of -0. respectively. where attacks occurred in Europe. Appendix 4 further demonstrates that suicide bombing is statistically significant. When calculating the appropriate expected value. 0. It is important to note again that the finding in Appendix 3 illustrates that between 1980 and 2002.05 level (one-tailed test).130) more deaths than those in the Middle East. This means that suicide bombing carried out by non-religious terrorist groups leads to 0. and South/Central America (Reg6). This finding is contrary to Hoffmann's thesis as it suggests that other groups. Appendix 4 reveals the results of the second regression model in which civilian casualties were used as the dependent variable. Appendix 4 also indicates that the Reg2 variable. Appendix 3 also reveals interesting findings concerning the region variables for Eurasia (Reg3).6 more deaths. The appendix shows that during the period of the study. This finding supports Hoffman's hypothesis that religious terrorism is associated with an increase in the magnitude of lethality. than those occurring in the Middle East.001 level of significance (one-tailed test).206 at the 0.236 more civilian casualties. while those transpiring in Africa and South/Central America generally result in just over 9 and 2. This provides some support for the notion that religion and suicide bombing are a volatile mixture.483 at the 0.144 with a P-value of less than 0. This indicates that there are approximately 0.g. this means that each incident of religious suicide bombing results in 0. These groups were generally more interested in political targets rather than indiscriminate violence and regarded such indiscriminate violence as immoral and counterproductive. are more violent than some of their religious counterparts during the period of our study. This finding supports Hoffman's thesis that religious terrorist groups are more indiscriminate.001 (one-tailed test).206 fewer civilian casualties than those suicide bombings by religious terrorist groups.. not religious in nature. It suggests that the interaction variable. LTTE or PKK or Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades) leads to almost 11 more deaths on average than those associated with religious terrorist groups. per terror attack. leading to more civilian casualties. suicide bombing that is performed by nationalist groups (e. Topof page Conclusion .
and Kurdistan Workers Party. and attempts to create new databases for such studies. but it is equally deadly in the hands of nationalist and secular groups. precision. We believe that any study of the lethality of terrorism. Scott Atran (2004) proposes that a thorough understanding of the root causes of suicide terrorism must also include the investigation of the structure of the terrorist organization. their propaganda techniques and ideological appeal. The increasing decentralization of terrorist groups and the fact that such groups are some of the most lethal terrorist organizations active today make it mandatory to thoroughly investigate these groups and the tools of their trade. but not a sufficient one. While it supports Bruce Hoffman's hypotheses that religious groups do have a significant effect on the number of terrorist-related fatalities. on the other hand. is comprehensive as it included both transnational and domestic terrorist groups. rising unemployment . this becomes a different story.Crenshaw (1992) has argued that the study of terrorism today is "theoretically impoverished. when it is coupled with religion. including indiscriminate attacks leading to higher numbers of civilian casualties. These results support our proposition that religion itself may be a necessary part of the explanation. In view of the findings of our research. including the pervasiveness of authoritarianism. Terrorism literature is wanting on this topic as well as further quantitative analysis of the subject. considerable support for our hypothesis that the use of suicide terrorism as a tactic is highly significant in explaining the increase in today's lethality. In particular. and cumulativeness of findings. and that the willingness of individuals to sacrifice themselves for their cause needs further scrutiny. Another contribution of our study is that the data set. where does one go from here? Some possible avenues for further research may include a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of suicide terrorism and its root causes. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. such as the Tamil Tigers. It also suggests that while suicide terrorism itself does not appear to increase civilian casualties. which we compiled to measure the lethality of modern terrorism. poverty.1Haydar (1997) also suggests that the growth of Islamic radicalism and terrorism are a byproduct of the prevailing political and socio-economic conditions in the Middle East." and as such stands to benefit in terms of theoretical scope. A number of scholars have suggested several areas for research concerning the root causes of suicide bombing that goes beyond just the consideration of religion. In this regard. as well as the sources of societal direct or indirect support for terrorist groups. it offers. more research is needed concerning the reasons that lead a person to sacrifice him/herself for a cause. We hope that the findings of our research contribute to the cumulativeness of knowledge on this serious problem and alert the researchers that religion alone is not the catalyst for the increased lethality of terrorism. suicide terrorism. The study confirms that suicide terrorism as a tactic accounts for much of this increased lethality and that suicide terrorism is not confined to religious groups. must include transnational and domestic groups. Our research offers evidence that there is more to the story of this "new terrorism's" lethality than the type of groups involved.
Likewise.S. Turkey. Finally.among the educated and the young. Helping policymakers gain a better understanding of the phenomenon of suicide terrorism and its root causes will hopefully point them in the right direction in their efforts to remedy the illness of terrorism and to find an effective solution to the problems it creates. and the ongoing conflict between Russia and Chechnya may very well reduce terrorism. the .Danner (2005) warns that the outlook of tracking and thwarting terrorism conducted by local terrorist groups that are not under direct control of transnational terrorist organizations is exceedingly intricate even for a country as powerful as the U. Khashan (2003) proposes that Palestinian collective frustration. political Islam. In this context. the absence of civil liberties and freedoms. and the weakness of academic curricula and institutions. The prospect of curbing the phenomenon of suicide bombing also requires addressing the grievances that prompt young men and women to sacrifice their lives. and American military presence in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 Gulf War as well as its continued support to the Middle Eastern repressive regimes. Atran (2004) andDanner (2005) caution American policymakers and media that it is an oversimplification to solely attribute the underlying causes of suicide bombing to the terrorist hatred of American freedoms. American occupation of Iraq. Pakistan. For instance. the rise of Islamic radicalism and the growing popular resentment of the United States in the Middle East are in part a by-product of the pervasiveness of authoritarianism. and poverty in the Palestinian refugee camps provide breeding grounds for suicide terrorism.S. The inconclusive outcome of the military efforts by the United States. Israel. and cultural values or to think that the terrorists are simply evil killers who are driven mainly by religious zeal and heavenly promises. this study has implications for policymaking. India and Pakistan over Kashmir. resolving the ongoing conflicts between Turkey and the Kurds. In this connection. The U. The termination of the use of suicide terrorism by Hizballah and its participation in Lebanon's parliamentary life after the withdrawal of Israel's troops from southern Lebanon and the Tamil Tigers' recent cessation of suicide attacks after receiving governmental recognition for some Tamil autonomy and the likelihood that Hamas may stop using suicide bombing in the wake of its victory in the Palestinian elections in January 2006 clearly indicate that coping with the root causes of suicide bombing would significantly reduce the recurrence of this phenomenon. He further suggests that Palestinians' frustration with the inconclusive outcomes of the peace process may be behind their support to radical groups and their belief that suicide terrorism allows them to counter Israel's military superiority and to compel it to recognize Palestinian national aspirations. and Russia among others casts doubt upon the utility of military force as an effective tool to end the growing menace of suicide terrorism. democratic institutions. military occupation of Iraq has further increased terrorist attacks and widened their popular support in the Middle East and the Islamic world. In their view. Israel and the Palestinians. Another policy-relevant conclusion calls for policymakers to recognize that the use of military force cannot serve as the only primary means of combating terrorism and suicide bombing. Finally and in an attempt to reduce the appeal of terrorist groups.
United States and its allies should promote democracy in the Middle East and respect the outcomes of democratic election even though the freely elected governments or political parties may not share American policy preferences in the Middle East. .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.