May 23, 2002

Blow me up Scottie!

Suicide bombing is the crack cocaine of warfare. It doesn't just inflict death and terror on its victims; it intoxicates the people who sponsor it, writes David Brooks in The Culture of Martyrdom. The article traces the evolution of the 'phenomenon' called suicide bombing, especially in the Middle East or now called in hackspeak as West Asia.

First of all, it is really unimaginable as to how one can make up for all the wrongs by blowing himself up and so many others in one go. Further on, the article describes the whole indoctrination routine and how the candidates are chosen wherein lies the key to dealing with this vicious brand of terrorism and the mindset that is creating the more cloned versions of the same suicide bomber from Kashmir to Kandahar.

"None of the suicide bombers -- they ranged in age from eighteen to thirty-eight -- conformed to the typical profile of the suicidal personality..........None of them were uneducated, desperately poor, simple-minded, or depressed." This is where the story becomes strange, does your average criminal have to look like something what you see in Bollywood movies? If the enforcement agencies too think so, no wonder so many of them are being so successful.

That reminds me of a story a friend who works in Saudi Arabia told me after the US military camp there was bombed. The vehicle that was used to bomb the camp was a petroleum tanker and after the incident the authorities went checking all the other tankers that were on the road around that time. The 'suicide bomber should look like this' thought process draws huge parallels with this and it reads aloud as DUMB.

The solution to this 'phenomenon' according to Brooks is "shutting down the vast majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza and creating a buffer zone between the two populations. Palestinian life would then no longer be dominated by checkpoints and celebrations of martyrdom; it would be dominated by quotidian issues such as commerce, administration, and garbage collection".

That warrants the question, isn't the whole Palestinian movement precisely about this, that Israelis vacate the settlements and let the Palestinians get on with their lives? For that matter, in most places where jihad is flourishing, be it Kashmir or Afghanistan, the same conditions can be found. Funny, it takes so much of death and destruction on both sides to realise something as simple as that.