Suicide bombing in Iraq

03.29.03

There’s been a suicide bombing in Iraq:

Iraq hailed a suicide bomber who killed four American soldiers on Saturday and promised more such “blessed” attacks as the United States kept up withering air strikes on Baghdad.

[ . . . ]

“This is the blessed beginning on the road of sacrifice and martyrdom to inflict on them what they did not expect,” the television announcer said.

It appears at least someone has been heeding the call from Palestinian terror groups such as Hamas to export suicide bombings to other countries.

Holy indeed. All this means is that suicide bombing is gaining popularity outside Israel, due to its perceived effectiveness as a tactic. And that’s disturbing news for the rest of the world, because how to stop terrorism once it becomes widespread? Granted, there’s a difference between attacking military troups and attacking innocent civilians, but let us be very clear here: suicide bombings are used as tactics of terrorism, not military offense.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ikram Saeed 03.29.03 at 10:11 PM

I think youà’re wrong, Sari. A suicide bomb against a miitary target is not terrorism. Attacks on aremd forces is not generally considered terrorsim, and the nature of the attack (landmine, missile, car bomb, sucide car bomb) doesn’t change that.

As for suicide bombing of civilians, it was pioneered and most effectively used in Sri Lanka, not Israel. (Kamikaze attacks on the military are much much older).

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2 mr_b2b2 03.30.03 at 4:44 AM

If it’s unconventional, then it’s terrorism. If we play by the rules of standard war, and they don’t, that’s terrorism. If they gas our troops, that’s terrorism. If they wait five years with conventional warfare before resorting to desparate means like gas, then that’s not terrorism. If they are using bombs against their own civilians, that’s not only terrorism, that’s stupidity.

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3 Joe 03.30.03 at 11:47 PM

mr_b2b2, just because something is unconventional, that doesn’t make it “terrorism”. If this were the case, then ANY new tactic, technology, or strategy would by definition be “terrorism”. The Shock and Awe attacks are certainly unconventional; therefore the US is resorting to terrorism according to your definition.

You claim that Iraq should “play by the rules” for a long time before resorting to “dirty tricks”. Meanwhile, the US has tanks, jets and cruise missiles, while the Iraqis are fighting in SUVs. It’s easy to play by the rules when the rules assure your victory.

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4 mr_b2b2 03.30.03 at 11:55 PM

So Joe, If we drop a couple of chemical bombs in Baghdad, that’s okay?

If we hang or drive drillbits into Iraqi prisoners’ heads, that’s okay too, right?

If we shoot American soldiers trying to surrender to iraqis(god knows why they’d want to do that), is that reasonable as well?

They can do what they want, but they’ll pay the ultimate price later.

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5 James 03.31.03 at 12:01 AM

Ikram is right. I’ve always understand “terrorism” to mean the use of organized violence by non-state actors.

State actors deploy organized violence in all kinds of treaty-violating and international-law-breaking ways, too. Such states are presumably committing war crimes.

Just not terrorism.

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6 Joe 03.31.03 at 2:37 AM

mr_b2b2, I never said I CONDONED suicide bombings or the use of chemical weapons, I just said they aren’t technically terrorism.

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7 mr_b2b2 03.31.03 at 3:25 AM

Depends on who uses them, if a government officially sponsors it, it’s a war crime. If a government hires a proxy to take care of business, its terrorism.

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8 Peter 03.31.03 at 11:10 PM

Terrorism has NOTHING to do with the perpetrators but the victims. Terrorism is the attacking of “soft targets”, ie. civilians. Attacking enemy military targets or POWs may be either combat or a war crime, but it is in no way terrorism.

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9 Brian 04.01.03 at 12:26 AM

According to your logic mr_b2b2, the khamakazi during WWII would be terrorists. Suicide bombing of soldiers by soldiers ain’t terrorism buddy. War crimes may be crimes against civilians or soldiers, but terrorism, as alread said, according to the CIA and US Defense Department is attacking soft targets by anyone (official government or not) through “the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature. This is done through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear”. Anything that kills soldiers in combat or enemy occupying soldiers may be partisan or guerilla warfare, but again, it is not terrorism.

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10 mr_b2b2 04.01.03 at 12:40 AM

War is dirty, but this form of unconventional war fare is extraordinarily dirty. I agree that there is a fine line between terrorists and guerrilla warfare, but guerrillas often commit terrorist acts to achieve their political goals. The definition you use:
“the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious, or ideological in nature. This is done through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear” does not explicitly state hard or soft targets. You added in the word “soft” targets before stating this statement. If the definition includes the term soft targets, then I agree, the actions are more guerrilla warfare instead of terrorism, however if they state targets, then these actions fall into the category of terrorism which is guerrilla warfare taken to an extreme.

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11 Brian 04.01.03 at 1:33 AM

That definition by the US Department of Justice implies attacks against non-military targets. If the goals are “political, social or religious in nature,” military objectives, by definition, would not be considered terrorism.

Furthermore, the Code of Federal Regulations stated: “Terrorism includes the unlawful use of force or violence against persons or property to intimidate or coerce a Government, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in furtherance of political or social objectives.” By definition, any measures against combatants in war may be a war crime, but would not be considered terrorism. Attacking military targets in combat is not thereunder considered to be for the “furtherance of political or social objectives”, but rather military objectives.

I would assume the lines are blurred when the attacks are carried out under an already established occupation against military targets. But in combat, any attacks against combatants may be war crimes, but would not be considered terrorism because combatants are, by definition, fair game to be killed. POWs may be slightly different, but even then, acts intended to intimidate and scare enemy soldiers would still be considered a military objective.

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12 Brian 04.01.03 at 1:58 AM

Well, again, I suppose there is also the pejorative propagandistic defintion of terrorism, which is essentially that anyone who attacks us or our allies is a terrorist. I, however, would maintain that the term is thrown around too frequently.

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13 James 04.01.03 at 5:32 AM

The apparently-DOJ definition (“attacks against non-military targets”) doesn’t fit the normal use of the word terrorism — which, I maintain, is simply the organized use of violence by non-state actors. I understand why it’s in the U.S. government’s interests to try and redefine terrorism that way. But that doesn’t make it right.

When GIA groups killed sleeping Algerian soldiers, for example, they called that terrorism. That makes sense to me. When Hitler or Stalin killed millions of civilians, similarly, they didn’t call it terrorism, because it wasn’t — it was the state machinery actively searching out and killing civilians. Yes, atrocities and human rights violations; not terrorism, though.

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