woensdag 23 maart 2016

What motivates suicide terrorists

In the wake of yesterday's events in Brussels, most main stream media push for more “war on terror” and fail to address the question of what leads terrorists to kill. Two alternative media sources do give interesting comments and analysis: suicide attacks are not motivated by religion, but are a response to Western military intervention.

1. Marcus Papadopoulos interview on RT news channel

This is what happens when you get into bed with extremists,” said Papadopoulos, publisher/editor of Politics First. For him, the roots of these terrorist attacks are Western foreign policy. “For the last 30 years or so America in particular, but also Britain and France have been working with Islamist terrorists to try and achieve geostrategic objectives. And this is what happens when you get into bed with repugnant dangerous extremist people – it comes back to haunt you,” he told RT. 

2. Joshua Holland quoting political scientist Robert Pape

Following the Paris attacks of November last year, New York City-based writer and host of Politics and Reality Radio Joshua Holland wrote a piece in the 2 December 2015 issue of The Nation from which we quote the key paragraphs below:

Terrorist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda are widely seen as being motivated by their radical theology. But according to Robert Pape, a political scientist at the University of Chicago and founder of the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, this view is too simplistic. Pape knows his subject; he and his colleagues have studied every suicide attack in the world since 1980, evaluating over 4,600 in all.

Pape adds, there have been “many hundreds of secular suicide attackers,” which suggests that radical theology alone doesn’t explain terrorist attacks. From 1980 until about 2003, the “world leader” in suicide attacks was the Tamil Tigers, a secular Marxist group of Hindu nationalists in Sri Lanka.

According to Pape’s research, underlying the outward expressions of religious fervor, ISIS’s goals, like those of most terrorist groups, are distinctly earthly:

What 95 percent of all suicide attacks have in common, since 1980, is not religion, but a specific strategic motivation to respond to a military intervention, often specifically a military occupation, of territory that the terrorists view as their homeland or prize greatly. From Lebanon and the West Bank in the 80s and 90s, to Iraq and Afghanistan, and up through the Paris suicide attacks we’ve just experienced in the last days, military intervention—and specifically when the military intervention is occupying territory—that’s what prompts suicide terrorism more than anything else.

Pape says that it’s important to distinguish between ISIS’s long-term goals and its shorter-term strategies to achieve them:

It’s about the timing. How are you going to get the United States, France and other major powers to truly abandon and withdraw from the Persian Gulf when they have such a large interest in oil? A single attack isn’t going to do it. Bin Laden did 9/11 hoping that it would suck a large American ground army into Afghanistan, which would help recruit a large number of suicide attackers to punish America for intervening. We didn’t do that – we used very limited military force in Afghanistan. But what Bin Laden didn’t count on was that we would send a large ground army into Iraq to knock Saddam out. And that turned out to be the most potent recruiting ground for anti-American terrorists that ever was, more so than Bin Laden had ever hoped for in his wildest dreams.

So if your goal is to create military costs on these states and get them to withdraw, you’ve got to figure out a way to really up the ante. And the way that you really up the ante is to get them to overreact. You try to get them to send a large ground army in so that you can truly drive up the costs. That’s what ISIS is trying to sucker us into doing.

In Pape’s view, most of the conventional wisdom about what terrorists want to achieve is wrong, and that disconnect has limited the effectiveness of the West’s response to terrorism.

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