A new framework is necessary to explain the suicide bombing phenomenon and properly direct prevention policy decisions. An effective framework should apply Durkheimian concepts to study suicide terrorism. Durkheim’s study and classification of types of suicide provide an insight of suicide terrorism, but there are important differences between ordinary suicide and suicide terrorism. Despite these differences, when Durkheim’s principles are applied to the phenomenon of suicide terrorism, it suggests that suicide terrorism will flourish in highly integrated and highly regulated social environments. Durkheim (1951) defines suicide as “all cases of death resulting directly or indirectly from a positive or negative act of the victim himself in which he id fully aware of the outcomes”. To commit suicide, an individual has to have some idea of what he/she is doing.
Therefore, if a person puts himself in a knowingly dangerous situation where death is likely or inevitable, it is considered suicide. Durkheim’s altruistic and fatalistic suicide will be used to examine the circumstances that motivate an individual to sacrifice his life for a collective terrorist organization. Using this theoretical framework, it can be seen how an individual can be recruited, trained and to carry out a suicide attack while being fully aware that they are most valuable to the organization when they die. Terrorist organizations use many methods for recruitment that range from exploiting an individual’s political and economic oppression to using one‘s concentrated belief in the collective organization as a means for martyrdom.
According to Durkheim, altruistic suicide more likely occurs when social integration is too strong in society. In this type of suicide individuals are highly integrated into the society. This individual understands himself solely as a member of the group. They are almost completely absorbed in the group and completely discard their individual personalities for the idea that they have become servants (Durkheim, 1951). Insufficient individuation, as can be seen with terrorist suicide bombers, can make an individual feel it is his duty to commit suicide for the betterment of the organization (Ritzer, 1992). Durkheim argues in effect that the relation of suicide rates to social regulation is curvilinear, where high suicide rates are associated with both excessive individuation and excessive regulation. Looking at excessive regulation, the demands of the organization are so great that suicide varies directly rather than inversely with the degree of integration. Hence an individual who strongly believes in a terrorist organization’s ideology and goals will become a human-bomb and sacrifice himself at group’s ideology. He believes to reform not only religion but also to reform society; perhaps he will also imagine the highest sort of destiny reserved for himself’ (Durkheim, 1951). Durkheim also contends that
altruistic suicide may actually spring from the hope and belief that there is a beautiful life after death. For suicide bombers, the belief in becoming a martyr following death can in some cases be enough to engage in the suicide attack. Suicide for martyrdom is also labeled acute altruistic suicide.
The most underdeveloped category of Durkheim’s suicide typology, fatalistic suicide occurs from excessive rules and regulations are imposed on individuals. Individuals who endure excessive regulation are blocked from legitimate opportunities for advancement in society. “Fatalistic suicides involve an escape from a normative situation from which there is no appeal” (Stack, 1979). The process of overcontrol where an individual is blocked from political freedom and economic opportunity creates a condition of over-control. Stack (1979) contends, “In such a totalitarian environment, marked by relatively low freedom and respect for human dignity, already suicidal persons have an additional reason for viewing life as meaningless and are more apt to commit suicide”.
It can be argued that while many individuals who are recruited and trained for suicide attacks are well educated, these individuals are usually highly integrated into the terrorist organization. Those individuals who are excessively regulated are often religious males, who are often young, unmarried, unemployed, with some high school education (Ganor, 2000). This profile has been found to fit the Hamas Shahid, the Black Tigers of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and the Shiites in Lebanon (Ergil, 2001; Gunaratna, 2000; Schbley, 2000). The socio-economic status of individuals has therefore been found to be similar among many suicide terrorists that fit the fatalistic suicide typology.
OBJECTIVES OF STUDY
To probe the perception of religious leaders about suicide bombing
To suggest some possible measure for the reduction of suicide bombing