Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Evidence that suicide terrorists are suicidal: Challenges and empirical predictions

  • Adam Lankford (a1)
Abstract

The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers proposes that suicide terrorists are psychologically and behaviorally similar to other people who commit suicide, due to a range of individual, social, and situational factors. Some commentators agree, while others are skeptical, given the lack of information about many attackers' lives. However, the book's position is not simply based on individual case studies; it is also supported by other independent assessments, the confirmation of empirical predictions, the paucity of contradictory evidence, and new applications of evolutionary theory. It is undisputed that human beings behave as the author suggests; it is unknown if they behave as the conventional wisdom suggests. Those who argue that suicide terrorists are psychologically normal and altruistically sacrificing their lives for an ideological cause should bear the burden of proof for those claims.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Atran, S. (2003) Genesis of suicide terrorism. Science 299:1534–39. Available at: http://www.sciencemag.org/content/299/5612/1534.full
Atran, S. (2010b) Talking to the enemy: Religion, brotherhood, and the (un)making of terrorists. HarperCollins. (Paperback edition).
Berko, A. (2007) The path to paradise: The inner world of suicide bombers and their dispatchers. Praeger.
Berko, A. (2012) The smarter bomb: Women and children as suicide bombers. Rowman & Littlefield.
Browning, C. (1998) Ordinary men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the final solution in Poland. HarperCollins.
Brym, R. (2007) Six lessons of suicide bombers. Contexts 6:4045. Available at: http://intl-ctx.sagepub.com/content/6/4/40.refs
Brym, R. & Araj, B. (2012) Are suicide bombers suicidal? Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 35:432–43.
Burger, J. M. (1999) The foot-in-the-door compliance procedure: A multiple-process analysis and review. Personality and Social Psychology Review 3:303–25.
Burton, F. & Stewart, S. (2008) Moroccan arrests and the security of militant recruiters. Stratfor, May 21, 2008. (Online weekly). Available at: http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/moroccan_arrests_and_security_militant_recruiters
Byman, D. & Fair, C. (2010) The case for calling them nitwits. The Atlantic, June 8, 2010. (Online article). Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/07/the-case-for-calling-them-nitwits/8130/
CPOST (Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism). (2011) Suicide attack database. Available at: http://cpost.uchicago.edu/search.php
Dawkins, R. (1976) The selfish gene. Oxford University Press.
Fair, C. (2007) Suicide attacks in Afghanistan: 2001–2007. United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan.
Freedman, J. L. & Fraser, S. C. (1966) Compliance without pressure: The foot-in-the-door technique. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 4:195202.
Grossman, D. (1995) On killing: The psychological cost of learning to kill in war and society. Little, Brown.
Gunaratna, R. (2002) Inside Al Qaeda: Global network of terror. Columbia University Press.
Hamilton, W. D. (1964) The genetical evolution of social behavior, I and II. Journal of Theoretical Biology 7:1–16; 1752.
Johnson, R. (1986) Institutions and the promotion of violence. In: Violent transactions: The limits of personality, ed. Campbell, A. & Gibbs, J.J., pp. 181204. Basil Blackwell.
Joiner, T. (2005) Why people die by suicide. Harvard University Press.
Joiner, T., Pettit, J., Walker, R., Voelz, Z., Cruz, J., Rudd, M. & Lester, D. (2002) Perceived burdensomeness and suicidality: Two studies on the suicide notes of those attempting and those completing suicide. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology 21:531–45.
Lankford, A. (2010) Suicide terrorism as a socially approved form of suicide. Crisis: The Journal of Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention 31(6):287–89. doi:10.1027/0227-5910/a000073.
Lankford, A. (2011a) Could suicide terrorists actually be suicidal? Studies in Conflict and Terrorism 34:337–66.
Lankford, A. (2013b) Convincing suicide bombers that God says no. Open Democracy, January 20, 2013. (Online journal). Available at: http://www.opendemocracy.net/adam-lankford/convincing-suicide-bombers-that-god-says-no
Maris, R. W., Berman, A. L. & Silverman, M. M. (2000) Comprehensive textbook of suicidology. Guilford Press.
McCauley, C. & Moskalenko, S. (2008) Mechanisms of political radicalization: Pathways toward terrorism. Terrorism and Political Violence 20:415–33.
Merari, A. (2010) Driven to death: Psychological and social aspects of suicide terrorism. Oxford University Press.
Milgram, S. (1963) Behavioral study of obedience. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67:371–78. Available at: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/psychology/terrace/w1001/readings/milgram.pdf
Moghaddam, F. M. (2005) The staircase to terrorism: A psychological exploration. American Psychologist 60:161–69.
Obaid-Chinoy, S. (2010) Inside a school for suicide bombers. [Interactive Web talk at TED] Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/sharmeen_obaid_chinoy_inside_a_school_for_suicide_bombers.html
Qaisi, M. (2012) Al-Qaeda recruiting mentally challenged individuals for suicide attacks. Al-Shorfa, August 15, 2012. Available at: http://al-shorfa.com/en_GB/articles/meii/features/2012/08/20/feature-01
Robinson, S. (2007) The world's worst suicide bombers? Time, July 28, 2007. (Online). Available at: http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1647922,00.html
Siemaszko, C. (2009) ‘Mother of believers,’ suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers, arrested in Iraq. New York Daily News, February 3, 2009. (Online). Available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/world/mother-believers-suspected-recruiting-80-female-suicide-bombers-arrested-iraq-article-1.388743
Stern, J. (2003) Terror in the name of god: Why religious militants kill. Ecco.
Uyayri, Y. (2000) The Islamic ruling on the permissibility of self-sacrificial operations: Suicide or martyrdom. [Primary source terrorist document, Online.] Available at: http://islamfuture.files.wordpress.com/2009/12/the-islamic-ruling-on-the-permissibility-of-self-sacrificial-operations-suicide-or-martyrdom.pdf
Waller, J. (2002) Becoming evil: How ordinary people commit genocide and mass killing. Oxford University Press.
Warius, A. & Fishman, B. (2009) A jihadist's course in the art of recruitment. CTC Sentinel, 2. (Online publication). Available at: http://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2010/06/Vol2Iss2-Art5.pdf
Westermann, E. (2005) Hitler's police battalions: Enforcing racial war in the east. University Press of Kansas.
World Health Organization (2013) Suicide prevention. Available at: http://www.who.int/mental_health/prevention/suicide/suicideprevent/en/
Yusufzai, A. (2011) Taliban drugs youth before suicide missions. Central Asia Online, October 6, 2011. Available at: http://centralasiaonline.com/en_GB/articles/caii/features/pakistan/main/2011/10/06/feature-01
Zimbardo, P. (1972) Pathology of imprisonment. Society 9(6):48.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 31
Total number of PDF views: 91 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 417 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th August 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.