Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism

Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism

Language: English

Pages: 368

ISBN: 0812973380

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Includes a new Afterword

Finalist for the Council on Foreign Relations Arthur Ross Book Award

One of the world’s foremost authorities on the subject of suicide terrorism, the esteemed political scientist Robert Pape has created the first comprehensive database of every suicide terrorist attack in the world from 1980 until today. In Dying to Win, Pape provides a groundbreaking demographic profile of modern suicide terrorist attackers–and his findings offer a powerful counterpoint to what we now accept as conventional wisdom on the topic. He also examines the early practitioners of this guerrilla tactic, including the ancient Jewish Zealots, who in A.D. 66 wished to liberate themselves from Roman occupation; the Ismaili Assassins, a Shi’ite Muslim sect in northern Iran in the eleventh and twelfth centuries; World War II’s Japanese kamikaze pilots, three thousand of whom crashed into U.S. naval vessels; and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a secular, Marxist-Leninist organization responsible for more suicide terrorist attacks than any other group in history.

Dying to Win is a startling work of analysis grounded in fact, not politics, that recommends concrete ways for states to fight and prevent terrorist attacks now. Transcending speculation with systematic scholarship, this is one of the most important studies of the terrorist threat to the United States and its allies since 9/11.

“Invaluable . . . gives Americans an urgently needed basis for devising a strategy to defeat Osama bin Laden and other Islamist militants.”
–Michael Scheuer, author of Imperial Hubris

“Provocative . . . Pape wants to change the way you think about suicide bombings and explain why they are on the rise.”
–Henry Schuster, CNN.com

“Enlightening . . . sheds interesting light on a phenomenon often mistakenly believed to be restricted to the Middle East.”
–The Washington Post Book World

–Peter Bergen, author of Holy War, Inc.












because they do not need escape plans or rescue teams. Suicide attackers are also able to use certain especially destructive methods such as “suicide vests” and ramming vehicles into targets. The 315 suicide terrorist attacks from 1980 to 2003 killed an average of 12 people each, not counting the unusually large number of fatalities on September 11 and also not counting the attackers themselves. During the same period, there were about 4,155 total terrorist incidents worldwide, which killed 3,207

suicide terrorism is to persuade the local community to re-define acts of suicide and murder as acts of martyrdom on behalf of the community. There are powerful prohibitions against suicide in virtually every society. (Although Muslims have committed more suicide attacks than non-Muslims, Muslim societies’ norms against suicide are among the strongest in the world, as Chapter 9 shows in detail.) Hence, terrorist organizations must typically overcome deep religious and social norms in order to

bases which have spread throughout the Land of the Two Holy Places. . . . One of the most important objectives of the new Crusader attack [in 2003] is to pave the way and prepare the region, after its fragmentation, for the establishment of what is known as “the Greater State of Israel,” whose borders will include extensive areas of Iraq, Egypt, through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, all of Palestine and large parts of the Land of the Two Holy Places.32 Al-Qaeda’s Solution: A Strong Muslim State. Bin

meaningful lives ahead of them, especially since suicide terrorism has emerged from Third World societies, all of which are poorer than Western societies. As scholars have shown, however, poverty is a rather poor explanation for suicide terrorism.20 A brief look at the international economic facts of life helps to explain why, especially if we control for the likely perturbing effects of the U.S. war on terrorism that led to the conquest of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003. As Table 2 shows,

terrorist groups. The survey identified the sex of 381 suicide terrorists, of whom 59, or 15 percent, were female. However, some groups use female suicide attackers much more than others. As a proportion of all suicide attackers whose sex could be ascertained during the period 1980 to 2003, al-Qaeda employed no female suicide attackers; the Palestinians used 6 female attackers, or 5 percent; the Lebanese used 6, or 16 percent; the Tamil Tigers used 23, or 20 percent; the Chechens used 14, or 60

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