During the past several years, Americans have witnessed the frequent occurrence of suicide attacks by radical Muslim groups. The public has wondered what drives someone to kill himself specifically in order to wreak havoc and destruction. While other works address the subject, many entirely ignore the ideological, religious, and cultural appeal of suicide attacks, and none can adequately speak to why certain groups choose to use suicide as a weapon while others do not. Beginning with a careful consideration of the religious and historical reasons, and the justifications that perpetrators find therein, for suicide operations, the authors reveal how radical groups have co-opted various aspects of their faith to provide fuel for their current activities.
Established policy makers seem helpless to confront this destructive terrorist activity, often implying that countermeasures are ineffective and seeming to say we will just have to wait out the phenomenon. Even such a well-documented policy report as the 9/11 Commission's report failed to address the root of suicide attacks, only critiquing technical aspects of the U.S. security system. Focusing on specific attacks, their roots, their perpetrators, and their outcomes, the authors are able to shed light on this resurgence of radical religious forces that encourage the use of such tactics, and to propose new initiatives and approaches to handling such attacks before and after they occur.
About the Author
David Cook is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Rice University specializing in Islam. He is the author of Studies in Muslim Apocalyptic, Understanding Jihad, and Contemporary Muslim Apocalyptic Literature.
Olivia Allison is a graduate student at King's College, London, England. A former research assistant on media and terrorism at Rice University, she has published several articles on various topics.