Attacks in Khost; Police Respond Again

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by Joshua Foust on 3/8/2010 · 26 comments

There was another suicide attack in Khost today.

A Reuters reporter in the town heard an explosion and shooting near the headquarters of the Khost provincial department for tribal affairs.

Smoke could be seen rising over the area. Afghan forces had cordoned off the road leading to the site of the blast and a helicopter was seen landing nearby.

“We have two fighters surrounded near the tribal affairs department,” said General Zahiruddin Wardak, a commander of Afghan army troops in Khost.

Salahuddin Ayoubi, a Taliban commander in the area, said by telephone that militants, including two suicide bombers, had seized a government building in a commando-style raid.

Right after a quick blue about Secretary Gates’ warning against premature optimism is news that the attackers eventually died. It would seem the police stopped the attack—which is very encouraging news. But there is, of course, some context to consider here.

For starters, and as a side note, it’s interesting to see the local commander go by the name Salahuddin Ayoubi, who was a medieval Kurdish ruler of Egypt (that is assuming, of course, that his name is assumed rather than given, since most commanders do this).

That being said, the choice of the local tribal affairs building is an interesting one. Until 2003 or so, the Ministry of Tribal and Border Affairs was under the control of the Zadran, an especially strong tribe that straddles Khost, western Paktia (in particular the Zormat area), and northern Paktika. Jalaluddin and Sirajuddin Haqqani are both Zadrans, as is Pacha Khan, a prominent parliamentarian who in 2002 shelled Gardez in a temper tantrum over not getting the governorship of Paktia. He later won election to the Wolesi Jirga in 2005 (though not before U.S. Special Forces killed off one of his sons).

Anyway, so from the Taliban days to 2002, the MoTBA was controlled by the Zadran. That year, Hamid Karzai replaced the last Zadra in power with a weak figurehead named Arif Nurzai. He barely lasted six months before Abdul Karim Barahoi (sometimes spelled Mohammad Kareem Brahawi) was appointed in 2003. This was right around the same time that Jalaluddin Haqqani was ramping up to begin hostilities against western troops in Afghanistan, while at the same time Pacha Khan was being violently marginalized from Paktia’s and Khost’s provincial politics. Naturally, it bred some resentment amongst the local Zadran in the area.

That doesn’t mean the suicide attacks were planned by the Haqqani Network, nor does it mean Zadran resentment drove the decision to target the tribal affairs building. This is merely to suggest, in the absence of better quality information, that there may be more to this story than just another Taliban suicide attack on Khost City.

Beyond the possible political angles to the attack there is the role of the police to consider. This isn’t the first time Khost has come under attack in the last year or two where the local Afghan security forces have actually picked up the lion’s share of the response and cleanup. When the initial wave of warm weather attacks in Khost City started up last year, I wondered what it meant for the Army’s seige mentality in the province, and if the province was becoming an important front for the insurgency. We now know the latter is definitely true, but the Afghan National Security Forces—ANSF, as they’re called—have actually performed admirably in responding to subsequent attacks.

One U.S. official who was stationed at FOB Salerno (pictured, above) recounted what happened right after one such attack:

“Within 20 minutes” of the start of the gunfight, he says, “We were on the scene.” Apparently the Afghan security forces had done all the work: “all that was left to do was look at bodies and talk to shopkeepers.”

A similar pattern played out two weeks later when another squad of suicide militants attacked the city. These attacks are certainly serious, but far more interesting and important, I think, is that the primary responders to them are not the U.S. troops but the Afghan security forces. That the ANSF is capable and autonomous enough to do so is remarkable, and something I’ve touted repeatedly as a moderate success we should seek to expand and replicate elsewhere. But that it happens so regularly—the ANSF are fairly reliable at keeping the peace, even during the elections, at least within the city itself (the countryside is a different nightmare)—speaks to a surprising, and in my case unusual, cause for hope for the region.

As for what the attack might mean in the broader context of the counterinsurgency, we can’t really say for certain. Khost is set to receive some of the few troops not earmarked for Helmand or Kandahar over the next year; whether they will be used effectively—most of the troops there now are not—remains to be seen.


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– author of 1848 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Joshua Foust is a Fellow at the American Security Project and the author of Afghanistan Journal: Selections from Registan.net. His research focuses primarily on Central and South Asia. Joshua is a correspondent for The Atlantic and a columnist for PBS Need to Know. Joshua appears regularly on the BBC World News, Aljazeera, and international public radio. Joshua's writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Foreign Policy’s AfPak Channel, the New York Times, Reuters, and the Christian Science Monitor. Follow him on twitter: @joshuafoust

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{ 26 comments }

DePetris March 8, 2010 at 8:46 pm

Hmmm maybe the United States is actually doing a pretty good job at training Afghanistan’s security force? I might jump to this conclusion if it weren’t for the extreme amounts of corruption that remain embedded within ASF ranks.

The professional behavior of the Afghan police force near Khost is a welcomed sign of hope. But let’s not throw our hands in celebration just yet; as long as their are more Afghan recruits that drop out than stay in, it’s hard to believe that the ANSF can continue these types of operations. There is only so much manpower to go by.

Sangar March 8, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Unlike your usual work, I must say, this is a very weak article.

Your knowledge on tribalism and the current opposition seems just as weak as that of the NYT article you criticized recently.

Tribal affiliation does not dictate the choice of targets for the opposition. It is a ridiculous notion.

The office of Tribal Affairs ministry is a potential military target just like any other official office of the Kabul government. The mere fact that Haqqani or other Zadran tribesmen were top officials in the ministry of Tribal Affairs does not explain anything.

You should have refrained from writing this article.

What’s next? Foust claiming the raid on the office of sewerage in Khost might have anything to do with the recent appointment of a Kharoti tirbesman as the head of sewerage office succeeding a member of Haqqani’s Torkhel branch of Zadran tribe.

Turgai Sangar March 9, 2010 at 5:21 am

Do we happen to be relatives? 🙂

Sangar March 9, 2010 at 5:44 am

Sangar is not my last name.

Turgai Sangar March 9, 2010 at 6:48 am

Nice to meet you anyway. 😉

Sangar March 9, 2010 at 6:55 am

Nice to meet you too

Akbar Khan II March 9, 2010 at 3:49 pm

@DePetris
Professional behaviour? Puh`lease!

DE Teodoru March 9, 2010 at 7:57 pm

There is no question that SUICIDE BOMBER is a profound psychosocial phenomenon that we failed to fully appreciate and that our field commanders making lots of PR peromises I do not think have fully factored in. As we improve our situation, will we see it used so frequently as to reverse our fortunes?

It is unique and I hope will be discussed here in its full mechanisms by Mr. Foust and the others who know Afghnaistan well (or maybe those who know Arabs well as they tend to be the leading volunteers…or are they the seeds that motivate others?). It took almost no time to set off an endless string of them over some four years where there had been none. I would be most appreciative of analysis of what makes it possible so abundantly. This we never faced in Vietnam. Every sure-death VC sapper we ever caught had an “exist strategy” and was instructed to withdraw with weapons. The current untrained one way Jihadis could be a magic weapon if enough become available. And why should there be so many from so diverse reservoirs? Why are they so calm and don’t give themselves away en route? Please discuss this. IS psychopharmacology involved as it was with Zulu warriors? Thanks.

Sangar March 9, 2010 at 9:08 pm

I dont really see the point over analysing suicide bombers in Afghanistan.

They are not insane. Neither are they brain-washed. They just happened to see suicide-attacks as a yet another way of fighting their adversaries. You don’t need to go and spend your time and effort delving in to some psychoanalysis.

We’ve seen in this recently with Tamil Tigers. In WOII the Japanese kamikaze pilots. And Now the Muslims in the middle east and Afghanistan.

It is not so much a question of What plays in their mind. But rather what kind of situation and environment drives people to seek such extreme measures.

I believe the Chicago Uni political scientist Robert Papes gave a good explanation of this phenomenon.

anan March 10, 2010 at 12:13 am

Brother Sangar; respectfully, most Tamils think the Tamil Tiger suicide bombers were insane. I have yet to meet a Tamil who didn’t dislike the Tamil Tigers.

The Tamil Tigers never had much “popular support.” They just scared the living daylights out of people. The Tamil Tiger suicide bombing was always deeply unpopular among Tamils.

Sangar, where do you get the idea that Takfiri suicide bombers aren’t brainwashed?

Suicide bombing is Haraam in Sunni Islam.

It is important to distinguish between many local Taliban who oppose suicide bombing and the crazy crack head suicide bombers used by Siraj Haqqani (through his proxies TTP, LeT, LeJ, iMU, IJU, Al Qaeda.)

DE Teodoru March 9, 2010 at 11:39 pm

Well, Mr. Sangar, obviously you have never been one. I knew three—“knew,” in that all died as shahids– we were med students together. They were not fighters, they were, you might say lovers, as they had quite a wild time instead of inhaling formalin in labs. They kept getting into trouble taking underage girls to their dorm rooms. They smoked, drank and looooved porn. Then they came in contact with the Iranian students, none of whom were overtly pious but were awfully nice and disciplined students; all had Iranian copies of beautiful American medical books and studied them in depth. The profs admired them. They set up a couple of booming speakers on the roofs of several student housing buildings and boomed audiotapes of Khameini speeches 24/7 so none could study in the dorms and had to go to the library. All three Arabs couldn’t speak Farsi so had no idea what was said. But they were so moved by what the Iranians imposing a Mullah on all those Europeans that slowly they moved into a Jihadi stand. That was in 1980s. By 190s they were all dead per other classmates I had met in Middle East. I could go into more details but I think it’s obvious that something other than what one may think is making rather loose young men into formidable enemies of Takfir in response to which all we can do is bleed. Sitting here, you may be able to counsel me as you did. But having escaped the WTC on 9/11, I cannot forget that 19 guys acquired OUR technology and exploited OUR weaknesses in order to die doing us permanent harm from which we haven’t recovered. I figure between that alQaeda and the bankers did to America, the arm of the Great Lady in NY Harbor is getting very, very tired. So alQaeda did something fantastic. I don’t know that the end result to the individual being the same makes it OK to lump Tamil Tigers, Japanese fliers and Muslim shahids. I think, just as were rather stupid about the VCI and by the time we figured it out it was too late, the same may happen in Afghanistan. Of course, if you’re safe here with a nice job I guess it’s OK. But if you join me down on Canal Street in Bklyn, I’ll introduce you to some guys that I assure you can sned you to Allah any time they want for they are just as willing to do it at cost to their lives. None of these are bad people, crazy people not driven people. They can be dealt with like anyone else…except on that moment when they take their last ride. What then, Mr. Sangar?

Toryalay Shirzay March 10, 2010 at 12:21 am

Suicide bombers also kill many innocent people who just happened to be in the wrong place.Anyone committing suicide for ANY reason has already made a leave of his senses.And doing suicide bombing where innocent people who have nothing to do with war are around,is of the most evil act.Islamic fascists who commit this evil are fully brainwashed with the evil islamic teachings which teach these thugs that all is justified in the name of allah and mohamad,that this life is not important,that they will be rewarded with all their desires in heaven.No one should doubt the fact that suicide bombings in Afghanistan and,Pakistan are driven by this most evil islamic ldeology.

sangar March 10, 2010 at 5:56 am

Robert Spencer Alert! hahahah

Turgai March 10, 2010 at 7:23 am

Unless it’s Pamela Geller. Even more hahaha.

DE Teodoru March 10, 2010 at 1:29 am

ALL THIS YOU SAY IS *ABSOLUTELY* TRUE, BUT NOT THE REAL ISSUE! I would ask you, is our only response to fire rockets from drones that kill lots of innocents and makes for many more devoted Jihadis and Shahids while the rest of us go to the Mall and “shop until we drop”?

Americans are the world’s biggest criminals because in deliberate ignorance they don’t see, hear or feel what’s being done in their name….not because it is hidden from then but because they don’t want to know, thinking they are fooling themselves into freedom from responsibility and freedom from retribution. Muslims are NOT as forgiving as Vietnamese so we better get into their heads before more of them than we can handle willingly die so they can cut off ours. It’s not that we’re “good” and they “bad.” It’s that we’re tired and scared and they haven’t even warmed up yet. Read how the Germanic Tribes contributed to the end of the Great Roman Empire. As Rome grew weak bleeding, its “friends” became its “enemies.”

Turgai March 10, 2010 at 5:08 am

“Muslims are NOT as forgiving as Vietnamese”

Indeed. And neither are Russians. Why should they be? You can just not enter into someone’s world and mess it up in the illusion that you think what’s good for the others, and then even think to get away scott-free or be thanked for it.

“Read how the Germanic Tribes contributed to the end of the Great Roman Empire. As Rome grew weak bleeding, its “friends” became its “enemies.””

🙂 Your reference to the (Western) Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries AD is right on. And the process of decadence is terminal.

sangar March 10, 2010 at 5:45 am

The discussion is becoming way too emotional. We don’t need al the dramatic depiction of mere facts and use media savvy paradigms.

It’s pretty simple to me. People who choose to apply suicide attack as a means of countering their enemy have made a decision. The decision might be very rational.

Depicting the attackers as brain-washed lunatics does not explain anything. And envolving emotions to it doesn’t help us at all.

If we choose to approach this problem from a rational perspective, we might get some where.

Turgai March 10, 2010 at 5:50 am

I agree about the rationality of the decision. Often, its a matter of wearyness with and revenge for deep humiliation.

sangar March 10, 2010 at 5:54 am

Right. In an intellectual discussion regarding this matter, light must be shed on the root causes.

So far root causes have been ignored.

sangar March 10, 2010 at 5:51 am

In war, depicting your enemy as irrational, brain-washed and “evil” only helps you mobilize people to fight them back. It does not how-ever provide you any useful information on what makes the enemy tick. What his motives are, how he recruits people for his cause etc etc.

If we keep deliberately ignoring these aspects of the phenomenon we won’t come to any logical conclusion.

We’ve spent a decade dealing with this problem. Yet in almost 10 years time, the debate is still very politicized, irrational and over-dramatized.

Nobody outside the academia really dares to stress key aspects.

All we do is constantly repeat key-words we’ve picked up from the media: “Takfiri” “Brainwash” “Sirajuddin” etc etc.

reader March 11, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Well, the use of “takfiri” by non-Muslims even in an arguably “correct” manner is still laughable. Just think of the hubris of it. Imagine if a Hindu or Athiest went to an Alabama Southern Baptist Church will lots of Christian pacifist tracts and explained to those good old boys that they were not following the dictates of Christ. They would get laughed at.

If the Taliban say they are acting in an Islamic fashion, they as Muslims have the right to say that. If another Muslim says they are heretical murderers, then that other Muslim has that right to say it. But for outsiders to stick their nose in the affair is silly. I would never let a non-Christian critique my understanding of my religion because it is mine personal idiosyncracies and all. On the other hand, I’ve had pretty long and heated discussions with Catholic priests and Evangelical preachers.

DE Teodoru March 11, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Takfir IS NOT used by me refering to us but to the Muslims we support. That’s the main rub: that we put violators of God’s holliness where there should be only the righteous. It’s a if Hilter put a Jew in charge of Aushwitz who believes that God’s chosen must be eliminated to make room for secular history’s supermen. Saudi adoption of and submission to American way is a gross crime to make youths, just as status of the peasants was a horrible thing to the sons of landlords in Vietnam.

And then, Saudis fund all the Jihadis in the world so they can have it both ways! Amazing how petrolium products can make almost anything glide into anything else!

We are the devil and the Muslims we support are evil. Get it?

DE Teodoru March 10, 2010 at 2:05 pm

Mr. Sangar, your last comment was the most constructive yet, in my opinion. We cannot simply throw people like shahids away as crazy, indoctrinated by madrassas, and go on assuming that because we’re “the more rational” (sic) we’re the more likely to win. For example, the Bush/Cheney emphasis on America’s drilling and laying of pipelines as its right and, per Mike McConnell, national security issue #1, is no less insane than any reliance on shahids. Even worse is the “ain’t my kid going to war” disconnect syndrome of most Americans who think they can fill-er-up their SUVs and are entitled to cheap gas even if other Americans have to go fight to get it. It is costing us a fortune to kill a Taliban or Iraqi insurgent and we should nationally ask ourselves: IS IT WORTH IT? Because that’s what assures more, not less, shahid-attacks. I remind that in 1965, when LBJ first send in US troops for a clear case of Soviet-sponsored PAVN invasion of an allied country, South Vietnam, the LBJ Administration was forced to participate in a nationally televised teach-in that only ended when the draft ended. By itself, any of the issues I seem to be “getting emotional” about may not be cause for panic, but together– WHILE CHINA AND RUSSIA ARE WATCHING—they are very much worth reviewing. There’s a book about Vietnam Executive Branch decisions making that you “War on Terror “experts” will find quite useful:

http://www.amazon.com/Lessons-Disaster-McGeorge-Bundy-Vietnam/dp/0805090878/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1268245586&sr=1-1

Our commanders—as in Vietnam– face one rule above others to stay in command (how a proven falsifier like McChrystal got to replace McKiernnan at pleasure of Petraeus); to stay in command a US general must have lots of kinetics for media to report with few casualties (ours) and big body count (theirs). Nothing has changed from 1960s Saigon “Five O’clock Follies” when small-minded (but far more savvy than the current Petraeus Peanut Gallery) PR officers tried to convince the public that we’re doing fine killing the enemy as $3 million a pop. I remind you of 1969 NSC-1, Kissinger’s famous 21 questions to all Gov agencies involved in Vietnam War; no intelligible answer was put forward by any, just a lot of bureaucratize to cover-up confounding of “experts,” per shocked Nixon and Kissinger. And that was after three years of “teach-ins” and lots of dead American youth. This millennium begins with 9/11, a demonstration of American vulnerability because rules set up in 1970s in response to spade of sky-jackings were totally disobeyed. On 9/12 an airline exec on TV explained that Rule#1– to keep pilot’s cabin impenetrable in flight– was disobeyed and cabin door kept open because: people in First Class pay a lot for that ticket and so deserve to see that a human is flying plane (!%$#^&##$@!!!). Is home front any more secure since then? So-called experts say NOT REALLY. But we did united Muslim World by allowing Zionist extremist neocons to re-name war on terror “WORLD WAR IV” AGAINST ISLAM from their official perches in Bush Administration. In Cairo Obama emphatically declared the Israeli-Palestinian Crisis as fundamental to what Bush in a Bush-it moment called “our CRUSADE” against “evil people who hate our freedom.” So, we’re no closer to solving our Mideast and Muslim World CLASH OF CIVILIZATION blood-letting than we ever were, are we? Should Obama return his Nobel Prize because he so cowers to Zionist and militarist interests while totally helpless in the face of “entrepreneurs” (French word for taker in the middle that produces nothing but own bonuses) who ship US capital to China so we can buy them with “made in China” dollars? (for those interested, in Paris Bush said: THE TROUBLE WITH YOU FRENCH IS THAT YOU HAVE NO WORD FOR ENTREPRENEUR (!@$##%^&*$$@!)

A good scholar, like a good painter, steps waaaaaay back and looks at how the little dab of color he added fits in the relief of the WHOLE canvas. We provoked creation of the SHANGHAI COOPERATIVE ACCORD, for example, as defensive response to our corporate hydrocarbons avarice. We invaded Iraq and Afghanistan for dubious reasons and CHINA got the hydrocarbons advantages while all we got is the Prius. We are broke and facing a restive ARMED American population not used to entrepreneurial collapse and looking for scapegoats—Jews and Muslims are first suspects in their rage driven line of fire! Do you think that, with Israel’s chutzpah in occupied territories and alQaeda’s continued attempts for another sacrificial-mass killing we’re not about to face an anti-Semitic Krystalnaht that will dwarf that in Germany?

America is decomposing. Shahids are lining up all over the Islamic World, each for his own reason, to help the “far enemy” on its deadly path. We have a porous defense of our home front because all our soldiers are busy in repeated stop-loss tours working for the 2012 Petraeus Republican Presidential Campaign which will as Germany in 30s be again the rise of the mediocre to command a highly complex, high-tech nation by exploiting frustration with shahids that get through our profit-motive weakened defenses. So the suicide bombers may cause us NOT to go out like Rome but like Nazi Germany, totally dependent on what the Stukas were supposed to do, paralyzing the world with fear. But we don’t need to think about that, even though there are so many little people all over the world ready to become SOMEBODY by dying killing us.

I don’t want to be emotional nor slanderous. I only want to provoke a discussion by you expert guys ON ALL SIDES about the long term consequences of what we’ve been stubbornly doing since 9/11. Most urgently, I want an end to the low intellect the Petraeus Peanut Gallery is imposing o the discussion. Just look at text of a recent Bacevich-Exum debate of our “NEW” (sic) Afghan strategy

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/asia/july-dec09/afghan_09-01.html

Exum had a “gimmick”: yes we’re losing BUT we can STILL win—exactly what Petraeus fed Bush in 2006! But Bacevich applied his CRITICAL JUDGEMENT AS A MATURE MILITARY VET AND SCHOLAR in querying Exum’s assertions. Finally Bacevich confronted Exum’s agitprop with an analysis OF THAT VERY AGITPROP LINE to show that there’s nothing there there. To this Exum gave the typical confounding that a young Saigon-based FSO or CIA response to a Socratic decomposing of his own propaganda: I KNOW THINGS YOU DON’T KNOW! So, in the end, is military experience notwithstanding, this is what makes Exum an “expert”? This is the essence of the Petraeus Presidential Campaign…insolence used in desperation against the grieving father who lost a son to one of Petraeus’s “surges”?

In the same sense, we lost the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, NOT BECAUSE ALQAEDA HAD SHAHIDS TO SACRIFICE, but because we violated our own security rules for profit; and to date no one seems to query why the cabin doors were left open so that four jumbo airliners could be taken over in 10 min. each.

Suicide bombers have done us levels of damage and loss of life that we CANNOT TOLERATE. Either we’ll go and kill someone in rage, usually a lot of people, as in Afghanistan and Iraq, or we’ll tighten up domestic security, we don’t seem able to do both. Fact is we chose the FORMER instead of the LATTER. I asked you “experts” where is our choice taking us and all I hear is that shahids are not worth talking about. As a grandfather of Americans I kind of get very despondent over your answer. It seems to me déjà vu. As with WAR ON COMMUNIS, WAR ON TERROR is a short-sighted means to personal ends for a few that everyone pays for. However, totally disconnected thanks to a media prostituting itself to corporate and ideological interests, Americans look on vets—AS THEY DID AFTER VIETNAM—as competitors getting an unfair advantage, not as heroes to be rewarded. It’s beginning to look a lot like France after deGaulle brought back the famous “paras” from Algeria, not like post-Vietnam, when vets were treated as drug-addicted pariahs to be avoided and post-Vietnam military careers were deemed an option for those with no other option (such as, for example, illegal aliens or those who barely made it through high school). We are a militarist nation about to embark on the last politico-cultural step, like all predecessors in history, enfeebled by corporate crooks. Except that now there is the added factor of SHAHIDS (Anarchist bombers were no match). I do think this basic element that got us here deserves a bit more discussion rather than dismissal and, from the beginning, I raised the issue in awe and respect, not in derision.

clarisse March 10, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Sangar
“If we choose to approach this problem from a rational perspective, we might get some where.” & “So far root causes have been ignored.”

DE Teodoru
“there is the added factor of SHAHIDS (Anarchist bombers were no match)”& “Suicide bombers have done us levels of damage and loss of life that we CANNOT TOLERATE.”

DE Teodoru, first.
Appreciate your comments, but you’re mixing so much pleas in your last one… Failure of US Home security and moral, opinion on military leadership, Vietnam memories, frightning painting of “the last step”, end of the empire etc.… and the shahids. Mixing emotions, anger, fear, and (also, yes) quite some agit-prop too ?.

If you want to understand suicide bombers, several studies have been done, and even mass terrorism have been theorized by Karl Heinzen (in “Murder”, 1849)
“The revolutionaries must try to bring about a situation where the barbarians are afraid for their lives every hour of the day or night. They must think that every drink of water, every mouthful of food, every bed, every bush, every paving stone…may be a killer. For them as for us, may fear be the herald and murder the executor.”
“Even if we have to blow up half a continent or spill a sea of blood in order to finish off the barbarian party, we should have no scruples about doing it.”

“What’s Special about Female Suicide Terrorism?”
cpost.uchicago.edu/pdf/ORourke.pdf

“A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Suicide Bombing”
Understanding suicide bombing entails studying the phenomenon on three different dimensions: the suicide bomber, the terrorist organization, and the community from which suicide bombings emerge.
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1030045&rec=1&srcabs=932055

“Explaining Suicide Terrorism: A Review Essay” – Martha Crenshaw
The current trend toward suicide bombings began in Lebanon in the early 1980s. The practice soon spread to civil conflicts in Sri Lanka, the Kurdish areas of Turkey, and Chechnya. Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians in the 1990s and during the Al Aqsa intifada further highlighted the threat. Al Qaeda’s adoption of the tactic brought a transnational
dimension.
http://iis-db.stanford.edu/pubs/21946/Crenshaw_Explaining_Suicide_Terrorism.pdf

Now if you want to understand a suicide bomber from a human point of view, the only neutral/rational way to, is to stick to man’s universality: birth, language, art, feelings, joy, despair, fear, hope, love, hate, pain, death.
Then take away emotions (’cause subjective they are) from this list. so you’ve got left: birth, language, art, death. Now we can try to search for something.

If you want to understand him from a civilisational point of view, this will introduce politics… and so religion. Not very easy to deal with in a rational perspective. As Sangar said, “We’ve spent a decade dealing with this problem”…

I think we will have to mix these two keys to understand and try to explain such a radical decision.

Regarding 9/11, it seems that nobody tried to answer the question “why”? Why US? Why America?
Well, America was just as a voodoo doll: Ben Laden pinning the tool-doll to kill his real hated-target.

You asked why are “so many shahid rising all around the world”.

We could try this: Religion is a mask, a tool (not even a conscious one). Power is the reality. But in many countries around the world –and in the middle-east– there is despair in politics. KSA is one of these stollen power state. No political change is possible. Citizens as subjects. No rights for women. Nothing to be expected. No perspectives for ambitious young men, even rich, even talentuous (of course we don’t even speak of poor ones).
Not really a model of democracy, hey? But strongly and eyes-shut protected by USA. A government above all critics. Well, one can feel angry, one can really get mad about it, loosing rationality and diving into hate. Voodoo. Hiting USA to destroy KSA.

Another little stone to build our reflexion:
Vikram Sood, former R&AW, wrote last Saturday on his blog:
“What Indian Muslims want is to be treated as Indians –no matter what their problems -and we should therefore treat people of Pakistan as Pakistanis and not simply as Muslims. When we learn to treat them so, just as we treat French or Germans as French and Germans and not as Christians, we will find a different way of handling this issue.”
http://soodvikram.blogspot.com/2010/03/india-pakistan-talks-fiasco-that-need_06.html

That’s another key, I think, and not only for Pakistan.

DE Teodoru, regarding suicide bomber, just considere the two very recent terrorist acts in USA: not muslims, not foreigners, just targeting governments buidings and symbols. Not with bomb. But result is the same.

Sangar, perhaps you may agree with this Rumi’s thought:
“The truth is a mirror that shattered as it fell from the hand of God. Everyone picked up a piece of it, and each decided that the truth was what he saw reflected in his fragment rather than realizing that the truth had become fragmented among them all.”

Shall we try this way?

Afghanvoice Sangar March 13, 2010 at 7:57 am

good post clarisse! Very informative. Do you have a blog?

DE Tedooru March 10, 2010 at 11:44 pm

Thank you for sources, one of which I had read. Let’s not confuse revolutionaries and shahids. Revolutionaries die for a cause, shahids die so they can see God smile in pleasure at them– big difference, in my view! In my prolix expression of my concern I tried to show OUR historic pattern, how we as a people deal with threats to our normative day to day. I did not mix shahids with everything else. We are helpless because we are intellectually corrupt and anti-each other in our functional orders; we are torn apart by internal deceptions– bureaucratic and corporate competition and cover-up. 9/11 and the phony solutions are glaring example. We never mention our making such catastrophes possible because we seek to avoid legal liabilities; consequently we never learn. I won’t repeat my disdain for the Petraeus Peanut Gallery of which McChrystal is part, but I do want to point out that the other side sends shahids at us that often– not always– are most impressive and we respond with INTERNAL DECEPTION– as they used to say in A Shau Valley, “ain’t no big thing.” IT IS A BIG THING, especially as competition in organizational security structures and competition for territory and assets dominate. What we do to each other is more important than what we do to stop them.

Lastly, the shahids we confront today are not the radicals and revolutionaries we confronted in the past. There is a serene sense of transition among shahids that makes them very able and contagious. I’ll never forget the story of this Saudi who was ready for his first firefight in Iraq. His main concern was not whether he will fight well but whether he would die well. Imagine a professional man leaving his family and armed concerned that he die well. Obviously he did but our soldiers who were his victims did not. How many times were the faults that made it possible for so many to die from a first-and-single-timer killing so many professional soldiers at once fully and collaboratively analyzed? Now aQI is videoing the incidents, so sure are they of how they’ll go. We can’t forget that we are suffering exsanguination at the hands of one-time amateurs. Yet our military is ever praised while it so often fails. That’s bureaucracies and star-seekers covering themselves instead of lessons learned. Much was written about the Jihadis that Brits faced in Sudan in 1800ths. If we had read more we might have better understood that often a punch to the face hurts a lot but eventually heals while a slap stings forever. We have slapped too many people and we can’t carry on with national recovery while exposing our mom&dad soldiers to the stinging from so many slaps.

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