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Modern ‘martyrs’ or exploited prey at the altar of politics?

Suicide Terrorism

July 2010, Number 01.03

“The “war on terrorism” proves to be constantly changing, and every emerging terrorist action demands new techniques to counter it. Suicide terrorism has received a great deal of attention from scholars and analysts during the past decade, although terrorism is nothing new per se. The dramatically increased frequency and lethality of such incidents in the post-9/11 era have led academics and practitioners in a plethora of disciplines to try to identify what motivates, sustains and spreads terrorism.

What about “suicide terrorism”? Numbers usually tell the truth, and the global records are indicative: Suicide bombings represent a minority of the overall terrorist attacks but cause the majority of human casualties related to terrorism. Between 2000 and 2004 (Atran 2006, 127) nearly 7,000 people lost their lives in 472 suicide attacks in 22 countries; even more were wounded. These numbers become even more impressive when taking into account that almost 85 percent of the incidents during the past 25 years took place between 2004 and 2008 (Wright 2008), while attacks increased to unprecedented numbers.1 The reduced number of suicide attacks recorded globally in 2008 — 469 attacks, compared with 608 in 2007 — is mostly ascribed to a declining number of incidents in Iraq...”

Excerpt from Ioannis Chapsos, “Suicide Terrorism,” per Concordiam: Journal of European Security Defense Issues 1, No. 3, 2010: 28-35.

Cmdr. Ioannis Chapsos of the Hellenic Navy is an instructor in the security and strategy department at the Hellenic Supreme Joint War College. He is a 1989 graduate of the Hellenic Naval Academy and served most of his career on fast patrol boats. He also served in national defense planning with the national defense general staff and the human resources/ education department of the Hellenic Navy General Staff. He earned a master’s degree in terrorism, international crime and global security from the United Kingdom’s Coventry University. He is a 2007 graduate of the Marshall Center’s Executive Program in Advanced Security Studies, EPASS 07-1.

This article reflects the views of the author and are not necessarily the official policy of the United States, Germany, or any other governments.