Cult of the Bomb Belt

by Nathan Hamm on 4/1/2004 · 5 comments

Michael Totten mentions that a suicide-bomber struck in Bolivia and that the alarming spread of Palestinian, attention-grabbing tactics is a cause for alarm:

What does a disgruntled South American miner have in common with Islamic fanatics? Nothing, really, but a powerful need for attention.

We shouldn’t be too surprised to see the Palestinian hate machine being replicated and copied. Much of the world is fixated on the Middle Eastern drama of stateless Palestinians. The Chechens are mostly ignored. The dream of an independent Kurdistan is dismissed out of hand by nearly everyone but the Kurds themselves. Few outside hippie college towns give the proverbial rat’s ass about a free Tibet. But the grievances, both real and imagined, of mass-murdering Palestinian death squads are the world’s cause du jour. It’s no wonder their tactics are spreading. The squeaky wheel gets greased.

Until the rest of the world, starting with – at the very least – the EU and the UN, finally brings itself to properly damn suicide-bombing as the wicked barbaric death cult that it is, expect the ramp-up to increase. There is going to be a lot more of it.

Of course, these tactics are now being used in Uzbekistan as well.

What the hell ever happened to people just setting themselves on fire to get attention?

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Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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PF April 1, 2004 at 11:11 am

Not exactly related, but there was almost a bomb in Moscow today: Interfax.

PF April 1, 2004 at 11:34 am
upyernoz April 1, 2004 at 12:10 pm

actually, i believe suicide bombing was really started by the tamil tigers in sri lanka. but the palestinians have used the tactic more than anyone else

how it caught on among the palestinians never quite made sense to me, considering that islam has such a strong prohibition against suicide–especially sunni islam. shiites, at least, have a thing about martyrs. (almost all palestinian muslims are sunni) it makes more sense among the hindu tamil, with their belief in reincarnation

buermann April 1, 2004 at 1:49 pm

From what I understand the first suicide attack against Israel that set the tone for the future of that conflict was by a young christian woman attacking an IDF patrol in Southern Lebanon, back in 1985. The attacks against US targets in Beruit two years previous to that were also suicide bombings, which brought the term to the headlines. The first suicide attack by the Tamil Tigers was in 1987. It’s more a Lebanese, orthodox christian tactic that’s spreading.

And there was a Korean farmer who lit himself on fire in Cancun over the trade talks not long ago. Maybe that wasn’t attention grabbing enough.

“the EU and the UN, finally brings itself to properly damn suicide-bombing”

Um, they haven’t? Like, what no-uncertain-terms would make their condemnation of suicide bombing proper? “Condemning terrorism in all its forms” and “in the strongest possible terms” isn’t enough? I don’t think mere condemnations, however proper, are really going to undermine growing cults of violent self-sacrifice for causes real or imagined.

Nathan April 1, 2004 at 2:17 pm

You guys are right about where the tactics were born. Just like Led Zeppelin ripped off all their mojo from Robert Johnson and popularized it, the Palestinians truly are the ones who have elevated suicide bombings to grand drama.

I agree with you Josh that condemnations are fairly useless when all is said and little is done.

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