- More than 85 percent of female suicide terrorists since 1981 committed their attacks on behalf of secular organizations; many grew up in Christian and Hindu families. Further, Islamist groups commonly discourage and only grudgingly accept female suicide attackers. At the start of the second intifada in 2000, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, claimed: “A woman martyr is problematic for Muslim society. A man who recruits a woman is breaking Islamic law.” Hamas actually rejected Darin Abu Eisheh, the second Palestinian female attacker, who carried out her 2002 bombing on behalf of the secular Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.
- For one, 95 percent of female suicide attacks occurred within the context of a military campaign against foreign occupying forces, suggesting that, at a macro level, the main strategic logic is to create or maintain territorial sovereignty for their ethnic group
- All secular organizations that employ suicide bombings have used female attackers early and often. For instance, 76 percent of attackers from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party in Turkey have been women, as have 66 percent of those from Chechen separatist groups, 45 percent of the Syrian Socialist National Party’s and a quarter of those from the Tamil Tigers.
-Behind the Woman Behind the Bomb
A Sociobiological View of Palestinian Suicide Bombers;
Suicide bombings have been one of the major hurdles to the Israeli-Palestinian peace and over the past four years, acts of terrorism have killed 958 Israelis and maimed thousands of others. In America, the typical explanations for this behavior center around three themes: poverty, lack of education and mental illness. The limited amount of research that exists on suicide bombers, however, suggests that these assumptions are wrong. It appears that suicide terrorists have no appreciable mental disorders and demographic data shows that they tend to be no less educated and no poorer than the surrounding population. Given the gravity of the situation and the inaccuracy of current explanations, I propose that alternative methods be used to assess the behavior of Palestinian suicide terrorists. With this paper, I combine sociobiology (a.k.a. evolutionary psychology), memetics and game theory to help explain the emergence of Palestinian suicide terrorism and to analyze the motives of the individual bombers. Bringing together research from these different fields, it becomes clear that suicide bombers act as a result of a confluence of generally adaptive psychological traits that are brought together in a maladaptive way by the peculiarities of the Palestinian situation. Suicide bombers are motivated by religious factors, particularly the notions of martyrdom and jihad, and other social factors including groupishness, the obedience to authority, xenophobia, reciprocity, the inclusive fitness of relatives and the protection of territory. Furthermore, the frequency and motives of male and female suicide bombers seems to be in keeping with their evolved sex strategies and gender roles. While these adaptations may have been beneficial in the ancestral environment, I show that combined today under the auspices of violent terrorist organizations has led to the emergence of suicide bombers.