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Dying to Kill: US Academic examines causes of suicide terror

[TamilNet, Sunday, 26 June 2005, 22:44 GMT]
Author Mia Bloom, assistant professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati examines the external factors that provide motivation for sub-national groups to adopt suicide killings in a recently published book "Dying to Kill." Analysing the phenomenon in Palestinian groups, Kurdish Workers Party (PKK), Liberation Tigers (LTTE) and in insurgent groups in Iraq, she contends that "it is often social and political motivations rather than inherently religious ones that inspire suicide bombers."

Mia BloomIn a Chapter titled "Ethnic Conflict, State Terrror, and suicide bombing in Sri Lanka," Professor Bloom traces the history of ethnic conflict, describes the background to LTTE's leader building suicide squads, and attempts to draw conclusions on the social, economic and military impact of suicide bombing in the Sri Lanka conflict.

Bloom Book"Unlike in the Palestinian case, establishing Tamil public attitudes is challenging, given the absence of comparable research institutions which have collected data...although there is some data available for Tamil support of the LTTE, questions regarding suicide terror and civilian casualties remain taboo subjects which people are hesitant to discuss," Ms Bloom says on the difficulty in providing accurate analysis on the public reaction to use of suicide missions.

"The Tamils with whom I spoke differentiated between attacking civilians and attacking military personnel and politicians. There was virtually no support for attacking civilians regardless of whether they were in Sinhalese territory or in the Tamil regions. The attitudes regarding attacking military targets were more varied," says Ms Bloom giving detailed statistics based on polls she conducted in 2002-2003 time frame.

Mia Bloom is also a consultant to the New Jersey Office of Counter Terrorism and a term member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Professor PapeIn an article covering the same topic that appeared in New York Times in May, Robert A Pape, associate professor of political science at the University of Chicago, says: "What nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territories that the terrorists consider to be their homeland."

He adds: "Before the Sri Lankan military began moving into the Tamil homelands of the island in 1987, the Tamil Tigers did not use suicide attacks."

Prof Pape is the author of a forthcoming book, "Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism."


External Links:
NYTimes: Blowing Up an Assumption by Robert A Pape
Columbia: Book Details: Dying to Kill Mia Bloom
WorldPress: Sri Lanka: In the Tigers' Belly by Mia Bloom

 

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