According to Martin (2010), the theory of suicide terrorism states that the terrorist bomber come from a group of people who occupy a democratic power have the tendency to be involved in suicidal attacks resulted from a difference in the religion among these which made them decide to commit altruistic suicide. There are several factors that induce the suicide attackers to commit the act but most of them come from Muslim countries. Another motivation is the deep sense of victimization believing that the suicide attacker’s was oppressed and persecuted by the target group or country. However, some experts believe that suicide attackers who decide to commit the act are characterized by rationality since the rational decision was made after considering the benefits outweigh the costs. In most cases, these suicide attackers/suicide terrorists are perceived enemy of the government. Such individual feels that he has been victimized and mistreated that there is a need to seek vengeance as a form of reparation for the damages he or she has suffered. Lankford (2012) argues that another motivating factor is to become famous and be glorified by committing the act of suicide. Majority of the suicide attackers have a strong belief that they deserve the honor and glory to be called “martyrs” after their deaths. This gives them the sense of altruistic feeling that they offered their lives for purpose and died in a dignified way.
Some of the motivations of terrorists are due to the harsh, discriminatory and unjust treatment they receive from the people that they consider as oppressors so they feel that they have to defend themselves. In most of the Muslim countries, they express their sentiments through revolt, uprising and rebellion which are normally accompanied by violence. The members of the terrorist groups have used suicide attacks to wage war or stage an extreme political protest against a particular country or organization. Some of the common ways to commit suicidal terrorism is done through strapping explosives to oneself using a bag or a belt; and using a vehicle that is laden with explosives that can be used as a conductor. These are the means on how suicidal terrorism is executed which is done by using tactics such as direct assault and indirect assault.
The recent bombing that occurred near the finish line of the Boston Marathon last April 15, 2013 is another living proof of suicidal terrorism. Here, the two suicide attackers used backpacks in order to initiate the explosion. This violent incident caused the lives of three people and caused injuries to more than 100 people. It will appear that the perpetrators were Russians who became American citizens and had strong connections with a terrorist group. One of the terrorists died during the shootout, while the other one was arrested by the FBI and was brought to the hospital to treat his gunshot wounds. The primary requirement of altruistic suicide is the extreme level of social integration when such person shall completely incorporate his own self to the higher order. The altruistic purpose is mainly motivated by social values. Such instance can be illustrated by these two Boston Marathon suicide terrorists who have given importance to the “selfless and altruistic nature” as a way to express the altruistic motivation. The concept of self-sacrifice among suicide terrorists has been created as the strong mechanism for the individual bomber to both bind with and represent the values of their religious group.
The negative effect of suicide terrorism is that it will take the lives of the innocent victims for selfish motives of terrorists. There are some scholars who believe that suicide terrorists are deranged and irrational beings for doing violent acts. However, there are also some experts who believe that suicide terrorists serve a strategic purpose based on their tactical efficacy, political competition functions and the psychological impact on target populations. On the other hand, some believe that suicide attacks do the act for martyrdom which glorifies the self-perception of their actions by analyzing their particular social, cultural, political setting.
Crenshaw, M. (2007). “Explaining Suicide Terrorism: A Review Essay”. Security Studies. Vol. 1 pp. 133–162.
Lankford, A. (2012). What Drives Suicidal Mass Killers. New York Times.com. Web. May 3, 2013, Retrieved from
Martin, G. (2010). Essentials of Terrorism, 2nd ed. California: SAGE.