The root of suicide bombings?

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The root of suicide bombings?

Does religion really cause suicide bombings? I think it does (at the very least it has a heavy influence on the actions of suicide bombers) but in the light of recent comments of Scott Attran (at the Beyond Belief conference) and Reza Aslan (in his debate with Sam Harris) it seems like an important topic worth discussing. I know that whenever I’ve argued that religion distorts peoples perception of reality, and that this perception consequently plays a big role in how they act, such as blowing themselves up, people try to deny the religious influence, or try to severely minimize its influence, referring to politics (which I don’t disagree with), poverty, education, nationalism and oppression etc.


Sam has made two interesting point on this: the lack of Tibetan suicide bombers and the lack of Christian Palestinian suicide bombers (although Scott Atran contested the latter).


It’s incredibly hard to deny the influence of religion (Islam) in suicide bombings, but even if it were not as big an influence as many would like us to believe, people like Atran and Aslan seem to be to dismissive and apologetic of the role religion plays.


I want this topic to question and examine their claims. What is the best line of argument to take on this issue? Or even better, how should we not argue the case?


Atran for example argued at the Beyond Belief conference that his studies of French Foreign Legionnaires demonstrated that they exhibited the same ‘brotherly bond’ that is seen in bands of suicide bombers i.e that they are willing to give their life to other members of the group. This doesn’t seem like a surprise to me. It seems to fit with reciprocal altruism. But Atran seemed to imply through this that it showed the claims about the influence of Islamic doctrine in suicide bombings were erroneous. However the mere fact small groups of people are willing to die for each there because of their close bond does not refuted the involvement of religion. Religious beliefs could in fact have been the reason for their close bond to begin with; the very source of their common cause/ideology. And while politics might for the most part trigger action, the actions are certainly rooted in where they get their perception of reality - Islamic doctrine. You don’t get beheadings, the conviction of paradise, and the calls for the conversion, subjugation or death of the enemies of Islam (infidels) and then try to argue religion has nothing to do with it!

See Sam’s comments on this issue (http://www.edge.org/discourse/bb.html#harris)

Sam Harris wrote:
Atran would have us believe that specific religious doctrines—like the idea that martyrs go straight to Paradise—are either not believed by anyone, or if believed, are not relevant to people's behavior. To this end, he brandishes empirical results that fail even to strike a tangent to the issues under discussion ("scapegoating"? When did Dawkins, Weinberg, or I ever talk about scapegoating?). Given his approach to these issues, it's not clear what could possibly constitute evidence for Atran that people are motivated to act on the basis of their religious beliefs:

Sam Harris and others at the conference tells us that suicide bombers do what they do in part because they are fooled by religion into seeking paradise, which includes the promise of 72 virgins. But neither I nor any intelligence officer I have personally worked with knows of a single such case (though I don't deny that their may be errant cases out there). Such speculations may reveal more the sexual fantasies of those who speculate rather than the actual motives of suicide bombers. All leaders of jihadi groups that I have interviewed tell me that if anyone ever came to them seeking martyrdom to gain virgins in paradise, then the door would be slammed in their face.


The first thing to point out is that such cases do exist, "errant" or not. Second, by narrowly defining the promise of Paradise in terms of its sexual perquisites Atran makes the influence of theology on the behavior of jihadists seem like an exception to the rule. Whether or not they are solely fixated on the promise of virgins, the reality of Paradise and their "duty to God" is so often mentioned by jihadists that one cannot reasonably deny the role that religious belief plays in underwriting their actions. Atran ignores the role of religion, even when it bursts into view in his own research. Here is a passage from a paper on his website ("What Would Gandhi Do Today? Nonviolence in the an Age of Terrorism&quotEye-wink in which he summarized his interviews with jihadists.

Rather than obey a utilitarian 'logic of rational consequence' these actors perhaps more closely follow a 'logic of moral appropriateness. ' Consider, for example, our recent interviews with a number of self-identified recruits for martyr attack from the Hamas Block at al-Najah University in Nablus (which provides more suicide bombers than any other demographic group of Palestinians) as well as a number of active fighters in Indonesia from Jemaah Islamiyah, Al-Qeda's main ally in southeast Asia, trained in Afghanistan, the southern Philippines, Sulawesi and the Mollucas. All were asked questions of the sort, 'So what if your family were to be killed in retaliation for your action?' or 'What if your father were dying and your mother found out your plans for a martyrdom attack and asked you to delay until the family could get back on its feet?' To a person they answered along lines that there is duty to family but duty to God cannot be postponed. 'And what if your action resulted in no one's death but your own?' The typical response is, 'God will love you just the same. ' For example, when these questions were posed to the alleged Emir of Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Bakr Ba'asyir, in Jakarta's Cipinang prison in August 2005, he responded that martyrdom for the sake of jihad is the ultimate fardh 'ain, an inescapable individual obligation that trumps all others, including the four of the five pillars of Islam (only profession of faith equals jihad). What matters for him as for most would-be martyrs and their sponsors I have interviewed is the martyr's intention and commitment to God, so that blowing up only oneself has the same value and reward as killing however many of the enemy.



What may appear, to the untutored eye, as patent declarations of religious conviction are, on Atran's account, nothing more than "sacred values" and "moral obligations" shared among kin and confederates. What Atran ignores in his interpretation is the widespread Muslim belief that martyrs go straight to Paradise and secure a place for their nearest and dearest there. In light of such religious ideas, solidarity within a community takes on another dimension. And phrases like "God will love you just the same" have a meaning that is worth unpacking. What is God's love good for? It is good for escaping the fires of hell and reaping an eternity of happiness after death. To say that the behavior of Muslim jihadis has little to do with their religious beliefs is like saying that honor killings have little to do with what their perpetrators believe about women, sexuality, and male honor.



Also at the conference Neil de Grasse Tyson asked whether suicide terrorism would disappear if terrorists had a more advanced arsenal such as planes and tanks. This is certainly an interesting point, but still doesn’t remove the religious motivation, which is the real issue.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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Topher wrote:

Topher wrote:
It’s incredibly hard to deny the influence of religion (Islam) in suicide bombings, but even if it were not as big an influence as many would like us to believe, people like Atran and Aslan seem to be to dismissive and apologetic of the role religion plays.


I agree. It is difficult to deny. And Atran is overly dismissive of the possibility of, particularly Islam's, religious influence on behavior.

Topher wrote:
I want this topic to question and examine their claims. What is the best line of argument to take on this issue? Or even better, how should we not argue the case?


This is an excellent question, and an important one, though I'm not surprised that it hasn't gotten a response--it is a very complicated issue.

Here's my take:

(By the way, in this post I'm relegating my commentary to what I remember of the exchange between Harris and Atran at the "Beyond Belief" conference, and my own general comments on the issue, though I may or may not comment on the subsequent exchange later.)

A quick response to the latter question is: we should not argue that Islamic religious beliefs are a direct cause of suicidal behavior. If that were true, then ALL Muslims would be suicide bombers, but I think that is hardly an argument that most take seriously, Harris included. There is, however, a particular belief that creates fertile ground for it--I'll get to it--but it is not necessarily a "religious" belief. Ultimately, no one knows what the causes of such examples of extremist behavior are.

To the former question: Atran argues that suicide bombers, not just Islamic ones, are essentially cult memebers; an "in-group" mentality pervades their life in a much more prevalent way than in an average human that is susceptible to--I would say, likely even selected for--the same kind of mentality. Dedication to the group subverts personal interests. And he certainly has a valid point, not to mention he has experience dealing with them and observing their groups. As an anthropologist, he has quite a bit of credibility on that angle.

Unfortunately, Atran simplifies (and misconstrues) Harris' argument to mere desire for "72 virgins" being the cause of their behavior and misses the point entirely. Harris' response, appropriately, is to point out that he's talking about adherence to dogma, which is exactly the same thing Atran is referring to, dogma that is asserted and unquestioned, existing on a different level of meaning from any understanding of how the world works, or how the human mind works. Dogma isn't always religious, but also sometimes social or political. Any attempt of, for example, insipid lecturers like Jim Woodward, from the same conference, declaring that historical atheists are capable of atrocities, notably Lenin and Pol Pot, does nothing to pin atrocities to religious tenets or lack thereof.

Take the example of the kamikazee zero pilots that suicide-bombed Pearl Harbor, another infamous example of "atheist atrocities." What was their motivation? It wasn't Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism, or Buddhism, or atheism... I'd say it was nationalism, another brand of "in-group" mentality. It was quite clear from the outset that the planes they were flying could not hold enough fuel for them to travel from Japan to Hawaii, drop their bombs, and travel back. Why would any intelligent, self-conscious, pilot consent to such a mission? Submission to authority perhaps? It certainly had nothing to do with believing or not believing in a god.

Many accuse Harris of being negligent toward addressing social or political concerns, but really, he's just addressing one facet of the phenomenon, with no pretense to explain the phenomenon entirely. (I think that is where Atran and other detractors are misinterpreting; it seems as though they presume that when someone says something, then they must necessarily be promoting what they think is a complete answer.)

I think Harris is just presenting what I refered to above as "fertile ground" for suicide bombing. We're not just talking about atrocities here; we're talking about suicide--willful termination of one's own life for "larger concerns": concerns that are superior to, but not necessarily disregarding, what consequences an act to the effect has on any other being. Where "out-group" is concerned to the "in-group," well... they aren't necessarily viewed as other human beings. We're also not talking about people who are committing suicide to escape from societal oppression or severe hopelessness and personal depression.

We're talking about people who's concept of death is basically ephemeral, meaningless. Some people in the world don't actually believe in death as I, or other non-believers-in-afterlife, understand it. Death, to them, is merely a transition to another life. That is Harris' real argument. And that, I think, is where the heart of the issue lies. What motivation to avoid death should we expect to find in someone who doesn't believe that death is final? Any?

Of course, many a religious person, while holding that death is not final... still avoid death like the plague; this would seem to belie their fear and reticence to act in contradiction to their own assertions. They implicitly realize that they might just be wrong, though they assert otherwise. It takes quite a strong brand of brainwashing, via cult-like in-group mentality, as opposed to the mundane, to transgress that fear, but I digress...

When people really believe that death is not final though, and an accompanying dogma provides the means--religious, socio-political, or otherwise--to rationalize their end to their imagined benefit, we should expect to, at least potentially, see something like suicide bombers. And we do.


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Topher wrote: Also at the

Topher wrote:


Also at the conference Neil de Grasse Tyson asked whether suicide terrorism would disappear if terrorists had a more advanced arsenal such as planes and tanks. This is certainly an interesting point, but still doesn’t remove the religious motivation, which is the real issue.

 

Neil's point is interesting, but still... attainable distance firearms exist in their culture. If a Muslim terrorist really wanted to, they could play sniper and try to get away with it instead. Neil's point doesn't really get at why someone would go all out and consent to snuff out their own life along with their targets'.


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Laker-taker wrote: A quick

Laker-taker wrote:
A quick response to the latter question is: we should not argue that Islamic religious beliefs are a direct cause of suicidal behavior. If that were true, then ALL Muslims would be suicide bombers,


It could be said that the suicidal behaviour - giving yourself to god/allah - is the result of being absolutely unhinged… convinced that the Koran is the word/command of god and consequently in the doctrine of jihad and martyrdom.

So with that said it could be that most Muslims, who are moderates, just don’t take the Koran seriously, they simply are not convinced. As Sam Harris says, moderates don’t know what it is like to really believe this stuff.

I find that Islamic moderates are either apologetic of the Islamic extremists, or they try to argue that the extremists are hijackers of Islam and not really Muslim at all, which in turn goes back to what Sam said, that they can’t bring themselves to actually believe that people believe this.



So in short, moderate Islam doesn’t get you to suicidal behaviour, but radical Islam does. The problem is many moderates refuse to believe that radical Islam is readily available in Muslim doctrine.

Laker-taker wrote:
Harris' response, appropriately, is to point out that he's talking about adherence to dogma, which is exactly the same thing Atran is referring to, dogma that is asserted and unquestioned, existing on a different level of meaning from any understanding of how the world works, or how the humand mind works. Dogma isn't always religious, but also sometimes social or political. Any attempt of, for example, insipid lecturers like Jim Woodward, from the same conference, declaring that historical atheists are capable of atrocities, notably Lenin and Pol Pot, does nothing to pin atrocities to religious tenets or lack thereof.


I agree. For me, it’s not religion itself that is my entire or main concern; rather it is dogma, irrationality, superstition, faith held beliefs and related methods. It just religion is guilty of this more than anything else, thus it is usually first in like to criticism.

The method is the same, but the subject changes. Applying the method to Islamic doctrine will get difference result to applying the method to Christian, Jain or Buddhist doctrine. Similarly there will be different results if the subject is politics.

There seems to be three separate factors: the method, the subject, and the trigger.

  • The method is as stated above… dogma, faith etcetera.
  • The subject can be many things, but in this case it’s religion (specifically Islam)
  • The trigger, which can be criticism and disagreement, and/or nationalism, social, or in most cases, political.


So they follow the subject using the method. This alone may in some cases cause them to act out the ‘obligations’ of the subject, such as martyrdom. If they are that convinced/unhinged they might not need an external trigger to carry out these ‘obligations’, but often they do, and this may simply be criticism, or national/social difference, or political differences.

The trigger (e.g. politics) plays its part in that it activates action, but it is not the reason for the specific action. This lies with the subject.

As stated above, if the subject is moderate Christianity you would get a different action/result to the subject being fundamentalist Christianity, which would in turn be different if the subject were Jainism or Buddhism. This in my view is where the action/result lies. By examining the content of the subject you can get an indication at possible actions that may occur. You don’t get Buddhist suicide bombers since it would be very hard to get such a world view from Buddhist doctrine (I well aware that the Zen Buddhist kamikaze bombers suggest it can be done, but it requires a lot of work to reach such actions and still get it to work within the confines of Buddhist doctrine. I would also question if Zen Buddhism was actually the subject in the case of kamikaze suicide bombers).

If the subject were moderate Islam you almost certainly wouldn’t get suicidal actions since moderates do not seem to have the conviction/certainty to reach such ends.

However radical Islam does provide the means to suicidal ends.

I think it’s an error to hold the trigger to be responsible rather than the subject since the trigger only provides the influence to act out the subject.

When you only get suicide bombing in some cases, but not others, you need to look at the variable factor in the cases where it does happen, and presently, suicide bombings follow from radical Islam. It appears that all suicide bombers are radical Muslims. I don’t think this is a coincidence.

If politics were the problem, why do political conflicts not always result in the same ends? It’s because the subject changes, and thus so does the actions.

You could say making changes to the trigger (e.g. politics… e,g. foreign policy) would stop the ‘obligations’ of the subject being acted out, which is probably true in some cases, but it is really papering over/ignoring the real problem. I think the trigger would always exist in some form. If you change politics do they don’t conflict with the subject, the trigger will simply become something else.

It seems like one needs to demonstrate that radical Islam is NOT a hijacking of Islam, but rather is readily available in the doctrine.

I think I’ve demonstrated how the problem lies with the subject, but it needs to be shown that ‘radical Islam’ is fundamentally part of the subject of Islam itself.

Laker-taker wrote:
Take the example of the kamikazee zero pilots that suicide-bombed Pearl Harbor, another infamous example of "atheist atrocities." What was their motivation? It wasn't Christianity, or Islam, or Judaism, or Buddhism, or atheism... I'd say it was nationalism, another brand of "in-group" mentality. It was quite clear from the outset that the planes they were flying could not hold enough fuel for them to travel from Japan to Hawaii, drop their bombs, and travel back. Why would any intelligent, self-conscious, pilot consent to such a mission? Submission to authority perhaps? It certainly had nothing to do with believing or not believing in a god.

If the planes could only take them on a one way trip (can you confirm this?) it certainly put a new spin on it. However if your fighting in war in a plane, have no ammunition and cannot get away for what ever reason (be it lack of fuel or enemy advantage)… your certain you going to die anyway, it seems ‘logical’ what you would end your life, which is going to end anyway, with an opportunity to take more of your enemies.

n any case, in line with my above reply, the subject doesn’t have to be religion. I think it’s important to note that I’m certainly not saying all suicide bombings derive from Islam or even religion. But sometimes it does, which I think is the case with radical Islam.

Laker-taker wrote:
Many accuse Harris of being negligent toward addressing social or political concerns, but really, he's just addressing one facet of the phenomenon, with no pretense to explain the phenomenon entirely. (I think that is where Atran and other detractors are misinterpreting; it seems as though they presume that when someone says something, then they must necessarily be promoting what they think is a complete answer.)

Agreed. But as I said above… I think it’s an error to blame the ‘trigger’ (which does have a role) over the ‘subject’, which is where the action stems from. This is precisely what Atran does. The ‘trigger’ (e.g. politics or otherwise) does have responsibility, but in a different sense to the ‘subject’ (e.g. religion)

Laker-taker wrote:
We're talking about people who's concept of death is basically ephemeral, meaningless. Some people in the world don't actually believe in death as I, or other non-believers-in-afterlife, understand it. Death, to them, is merely a transition to another life. That is Harris' real argument. And that, I think, is where the heart of the issue lies. What motivation to avoid death should we expect to find in someone who doesn't believe that death is final? Any?

Precisely. And where does this notion of after life come from….

Obviously belief in an afterlife doesn’t automatically = suicide bombing, since most people who believe as such don’t blow themselves up. I think a specific doctrine/belief system, combined with the degree of conviction in that doctrine/belief system is what is required, with radical Islam and the Tamil Tigers dogma (secular but nominally Hindu) being two prominent examples.

Laker-taker wrote:
Of course, many a religious person, while holding that death is not final... still avoid death like the plague; this would seem to belie their fear and reticence to act in accordance of their own assertions. They implicitly realize that they might just be wrong, though they assert otherwise.

Right. This pretty much applies to moderates… people who believe in an afterlife, but don’t really believe.

Laker-taker wrote:
Neil's point is interesting, but still... attainable distance firearms exist in their culture. If a Muslim terrorist really wanted to, they could play sniper and try to get away with it instead. Neil's point doesn't really get at why someone would go all out and consent to snuff out their own life along with their targets'.


It seems that the point of jihad and martyrdom is to give yourself to god and your devotion to god. This is supported by Atran’s own work which I referenced in my opening post:

”For example, when these questions were posed to the alleged Emir of Jemaah Islamiyah, Abu Bakr Ba'asyir, in Jakarta's Cipinang prison in August 2005, he responded that martyrdom for the sake of jihad is the ultimate fardh 'ain, an inescapable individual obligation that trumps all others, including the four of the five pillars of Islam (only profession of faith equals jihad). What matters for him as for most would-be martyrs and their sponsors I have interviewed is the martyr's intention and commitment to God, so that blowing up only oneself has the same value and reward as killing however many of the enemy.”


So even if they had other weapons which didn’t require them to die in the process (and as you note, they do), it would negate the notion of sacrificing yourself for god.

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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I have an Arab friend who

I have an Arab friend who was raised muslim, but is a professed atheist now.  Nevertheless, he sympathetic to many arab causes, including when viewed through the lens of islam.   Some remarks he has made to me:

1. In regard to  suicide attackers - "Give them tanks and F-16s.  The will put them to good use".

2. In regard to the lack of christian suicide attackers among the Palestinians - "The christian Palestinians have a higher standard of living than the muslims".  I haven't pursued the evidence for this with him, but I fully intend to.

3. "The Palestinians are yet to commit more suicide attacks than the Tamil Tigers".

 While some instances of suicide attacks seem more understandable -- though not necessarily unforgivable -- given the setting in which they occur (the squalid situation of the palestinians,  iraqis under foreign occupation), I see other instances where the impetus seems not to be poor quality of life.  The 9/11 hijackers were reportedly all middle-class.  The 7/7 attackers were born in the UK, and seemed to be well-adjusted Brits.  I have wondered if it is part and parcel of the "bloody borders" claim -- that muslims wish not to coexist with infidels, and spread islam to all corners of the earth, as seemed the trend up until the late Middle Ages.  My friend has assertd this is not the case.  Bin Laden himself said in a video "Why did we not attack Sweden?", Sweden being a principally irreligious nation.

Is it fair to say that hinduism plays a role in the willingness for suicide attacks among the secular Tamil Tigers?  Does belief in an afterlife and reincarnation serve as a goad for suicide, or can one be motivated to die (destructively) for a secular cause, with the full knowledge that they will never enjoy the results, should that cause be realized?

 In regard to the Japanese kamikazes of WWII, there might in fact be a religious angle to it, if even an afterlife is not involved.  In the code of the samurai, it was more honorable to die fighting than to surrender.  Iris Chang used the belief in the Emperor's divinity in The Rape of Nanking to explain Japanese atrocities during WWII: the Japanese soldier's life was meaningless but in service to the Emperor.  

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People suicide bomb becuase

People suicide bomb becuase it's so much easier to walk into a resturant, and boom. Most people don't have the balls (As it were) to go rambo and run the risk of being cuaght. Better dead then red-handed.

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zarathustra wrote: 2. In

zarathustra wrote:
2. In regard to the lack of christian suicide attackers among the Palestinians - "The christian Palestinians have a higher standard of living than the muslims". I haven't pursued the evidence for this with him, but I fully intend to.

This would be interesting… a) whether there are Palestinian Christian suicide bombers (Atran stated there have been one or two), and b) whether Palestinian Christian life if better.


zarathustra wrote:
I have wondered if it is part and parcel of the "bloody borders" claim -- that muslims wish not to coexist with infidels,


Apparently according to the Koran infidels must be converted, subjugated or killed. When you realise there not going to convert, accept you can’t subjugate them, you just kill them.

zarathustra wrote:
Bin Laden himself said in a video "Why did we not attack Sweden?", Sweden being a principally irreligious nation.

I would imagine for the radical Muslims its better that someone has no religion, than the ‘wrong’ religion. I remember a video where Muslim said he would stake the hand of an atheist, ‘because the atheist has already recited the first part of the shahadah’: ‘There is no God…” so the Muslim only has half the work to do, to convince the atheist of the second part of the shahadah “but Allah”.

zarathustra wrote:
Is it fair to say that hinduism plays a role in the willingness for suicide attacks among the secular Tamil Tigers? Does belief in an afterlife and reincarnation serve as a goad for suicide,

Maybe, maybe not. Even if you don’t actively or strongly believe in an afterlife, but don’t reject the notion, it may still benefit subconsciously. The Tamil Tigers fall under the same category as Stalin and Pol Pot as a group who pursue an ideology with the same sort of blind faith and dogma as others pursue religion.

I don’t know why the Tamil Tigers blow themselves up but it cannot be just based on politics or utter conviction, since not everyone who has a strong political disagreement and/or utter conviction in an ideology blows themselves up. I think something else is needed, which in the case of radical Islam is the dogmatic conviction in a specific understanding of Islamic doctrine.

People can and often do have just as much of a strong political disagreement and strong conviction in what they believe as the radical Muslims do, but these people lack belief in the ideology that radical Muslims have, thus you don’t see the same actions.

For instance, look at the radical 9/11 conspiracy theorists (Alex Jones etc). They have political differences and a sheer conviction in their ideology that is easily on par with the radical Muslims, and yet, they don’t blow themselves up. This is because they have different ideologies.

People (especially moderates) tend to deny that a certain view of Islamic doctrine is the cause of Islamic suicide bombers because they can’t bring themselves to accept this worldview/ideology is in such a prevalent religions doctrine. Since they themselves can’t or refuse to ‘see’ this interpretation, they say it can’t come from there.

zarathustra wrote:
or can one be motivated to die (destructively) for a secular cause, with the full knowledge that they will never enjoy the results, should that cause be realized?

Perhaps the knowledge that they will or may further their groups cause, even if they can’t experience the results, is what spurs them on.

As I said above, I think there are multiple ideologies which can get you to suicidal terrorism. Radical Islam is one of these.

zarathustra wrote:
In regard to the Japanese kamikazes of WWII, there might in fact be a religious angle to it, if even an afterlife is not involved. In the code of the samurai, it was more honorable to die fighting than to surrender. Iris Chang used the belief in the Emperor's divinity in The Rape of Nanking to explain Japanese atrocities during WWII: the Japanese soldier's life was meaningless but in service to the Emperor.

I was vaguely aware of this through previous research but it didn’t recall for some reason when looking at the Japanese kamikazes.

It’s called Seppuku.

According to the Wikipedia page: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seppuku

Quote:
Seppuku was a key part of bushido, the code of the samurai warriors; it was used by warriors to avoid falling into enemy hands, and to attenuate shame.

In his book The Samurai Way of Death, Samurai: The World of the Warrior (ch.4), Dr. Stephen Turnbull states:

“Seppuku was commonly performed using a tantō. It could take place with preparation and ritual in the privacy of one's home, or speedily in a quiet corner of a battlefield while one’s comrades kept the enemy at bay.

In the world of the warrior, seppuku was a deed of bravery that was admirable in a samurai who knew he was defeated, disgraced, or mortally wounded. It meant that he could end his days with his transgressions wiped away and with his reputation not merely intact but actually enhanced. The cutting of the abdomen released the samurai’s spirit in the most dramatic fashion, but it was an extremely painful and unpleasant way to die, and sometimes the samurai who was performing the act asked a loyal comrade to cut off his head at the moment of agony.”

"It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring" -- Carl Sagan


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I believe it's a matter of

I believe it's a matter of tactics more than anything. Yes, religion has an influence, but that is mostly just making it easier for people to justify their suicide bombings. There are bigger concerns, and blaming it all on religion ignores some of the issues at hand. These people are effectively rebels, against some local governments and outside influences. They have no army, nor the ability to form one. Any attempt to form and train one would result in it's immediate destruction. The only way for them to effectively battle their enemies is to use guerilla tactics. Suicide bombings are an extremely effective tactic when you're outnumbered as much as they are. One person can kill or cripple multiple defenders without even being trained as an effective fighting force. It also slows down response time of a nation when it has to commit forces to protecting it's people from such attacks.

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My view on the root of

My view on the root of suicide bombings is sociopolitical conditions. If everyone in your family except you was killed by the other side, you would want revenge.

Now what causes them to choose suicide bombing would be a result of several factors, such as means. Religion might have some role also.

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