Friday, December 09, 2005

Conversations Around the Net Part II:

Causes of the Female Suicide Bombings

Athena at Terrorism Unveiled discussed the advent of increased female suicide bombers in the Islamist terrorism paradigm:

More details on her relationship with her husband, a known Islamist, could be key to understanding this transformation. Converting to Islam from Christianity isn't in itself cause for concern or shocking, but to transform a female into an Islamist who chooses suicide seems bizarre. It's a taboo subject that most researches probably won't touch, but it would be interesting to have statistics on those converts from whatever religion to Islam and the level of their Islamist views. Meaning, what are the numbers for those who convert to a more rigid form?

Read the rest and then read my full response below regarding possible reasons and the problem with profiling.

I thought you would be interested in this website:

The site generally deals with Christian extremist groups and other religious (non Islam) cults, but their analysis of both leaders, victims and tactics is quite good. See other links at the bottom of the page.

In short, one of the things that happens is that these groups tend to maximize the cliche about "there are no believers like the converted". Generally, this is because the person converting wants to be part of the group very badly and so will try to live or exude even the most extreme dictates of the group to achieve acceptance. In this case, Muriel would become more "Muslim" than the average "Muslim" to prove that she is a worthy "Muslim".

This doesn't have to be strictly about people who are outside of a group and then join it (like a Christian becoming Muslim), but also those who are already part of the group, but do not feel esteemed by the group. They may feel that the only way to achieve this great acceptance is to double their commitment to the ideas (like those young men who blew themselves up in London or any of the other young men that the Islamist cult attracts and turns into suiciders within weeks and sometimes days).

In the case of Muriel, obviously, non-religious factors may have driven her to seek this type of commitment. First, the fact that she married outside her faith. Not to be discriminatory, but generally, this is an existent grouping that people tend to stay in unless of course they do not feel part of the group or they feel that the group has denigrated them in some way. we are all always looking for acceptance and we frequently go to places or do things we think will get it. Secondly, once she married some one who was Muslim, she must have felt that she could not fully achieve HIS acceptance and love because she could not fully participate in his life either through culture or religion. Since HIS acceptance was paramount in order to achieve her mystical idea of "love" and he belonged to this group, then she must become its embodiment.

The man, for his part, may not have actually planned it from the get go nor even implied or directed verbally at first. It may have simply been the nature of the relationship and his own cultural beliefs about women that excluded her through no original intent. However, the ego is a powerful thing and once she determined her path to acceptance he may have found it extremely gratifying to find such a willing follower when he himself has always seen himself as simply a follower. further, because the nature of the cult behavior which precludes living for today and always looking or doing something for tomorrow (ie, the Islamist ideology of planning always for paradise or the future caliphate which none are likely to see in their life time - if ever), he may have eventually indoctrinated her into the idea of this future and seen it as a way that they could both achieve their desires: she to be finally accepted and in a perfect relationship with him and he achieving paradise.

I think your analysis of terrorists finding another useful tactic is excellent in terms of explaining why they will be willing to use it even if it goes beyond their original ideology. I would add that, with the nature of relationships for those that live within the construct of traditionalist culture or "extremist" ideology, there may well be a very large contingent of potential female victims willing to be used by these groups that has little to do with the appeal of the ideology and everything to do with intra-personal relationships and the only apparent vehicle of the woman to gain acceptance by her husband, family or male peers.

Those that have sought to advocate profiling based on race or perceived ideologies, those that insist on defining the probabilities of these factions making decisions or alliances or using tactics based on a black and white interpretation of what seems to be a black and white absolute ideology without taking into consideration all the permutations and influences of individual psyche, are stuck in a box that will see them forever behind and incapable of stopping the spread and danger of these groups.

all done

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