Academic journal article Military Review

DYING TO KILL: The Allure of Suicide Terror

Academic journal article Military Review

DYING TO KILL: The Allure of Suicide Terror

Article excerpt

DYING TO KILL: The Allure of Suicide Terror, Mia Bloom, Columbia University Press, New York, 2007, 280 pages, $17.95.

In Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror, Mia Bloom lays out a theory of suicide bombing as a modem, non-Islamic phenomenon used by groups "when other military tactics fail, and when they are in competition witii other terrorist groups for popular or financial support."

Bloom is sure of a few things. Military overreaction is bad if we want to stop terrorists or suicide bombers. Also, suicide bombing should not be associated with Islam. Otiier than these hackneyed insights, Bloom never articulates an argument on how to address the phenomenon. "Suicide terror will either be sanctioned or prohibited by the civilian population. The use of violence will either resonate effectively with the rank and file or will be rejected and, eventually, abandoned by the groups." Angry men will either strap bombs to their chests and explode themselves, or they won't.

Bloom covers suicide bombing in the Palestinian territories, Turkey, and Sri Lanka. She also explores the phenomenon of female suicide bombers. Astonishingly, the book lacks information about the origination of modem suicide bombing by Hezbollah. By ignoring Hezbollah's politicization of martyrdom within the context of a revitalized Shi'ism, Bloom ignores the Islamic context within which modem suicide bombing was bom.

This shortcoming is painfully apparent in a chapter on the Tamil Tigers. For those with little background on the bloody eruptions of Sri Lanka, the chapter provides a good overview. Yet, for the study of suicide bombing, the Black Tigers are most notable because, unlike the majority of suicide bombers, they are not Muslims. …

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