Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Human bombs

On the making of terrorists. In The Australian [via Political Theory Daily Review].
US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's question two years ago seemed reasonable enough: "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and the radical clerics are recruiting, training, and deploying against us?"

It's a popular notion: Charismatic religious leaders and their ideologies inculcate violent convictions among their constituents and desperate or zealous individuals act on those convictions. By this logic, terror is bound to religious extremism.

But a growing body of scholarship on suicide bombing suggests that it doesn't work that way. These authors, primarily drawn from political science and social psychology, concur that suicide bombings with or without the trappings of religion are largely a response to military occupation or, since September 11, 2001, to perceptions of general political oppression in the Muslim world....

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