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Counter-Terrorism: Dismal Track Record of Suicide Bombers
   Next Article → AFGHANISTAN: The Others
January 18, 2009: The terrorist organization that popularized the use of suicide bombers, the Sri Lankan LTTE, is dying in a small patch of jungle, abandoned by the Tamil minority it killed in the name of, and hunted by Sri Lankan soldiers it tried to terrorize into submission for three decades. It's yet another example of how suicide bombings don't work. In fact, this particular weapon actually backfires. Consider the facts.

 The Tamil separatists of Sri Lanka (the LTTE) pioneered the modern use of suicide bombers over twenty years ago. Between 1984 and 2006, the LTTE carried out 346 suicide bombing attacks (killing 3,262 civilians and wounding another 3,494). Through 2000, the LTTE accounted for most of the suicide bombing attacks on the planet. The LTTE was particularly effective at attacking senior politicians and security officials. But each attack just made their opponents angrier. The LTTE was eventually defeated, partly by an enraged Sri Lankan population, and partly dissention and demoralization within their own ranks.

Hezbollah was the next to pick up on suicide bombers. While Hezbollah claims to represent the Shia minority in Lebanon, it has brought itself increasing resistance from the majority of Lebanese by acting in support for foreign nations. Actually, Hezbollah has largely abandoned suicide bombing, apparently noting the downside of the tactic.

Palestinian terrorists adopted the use of suicide bombing against Israel in 2000. The Israelis eventually developed tactics that defeated this weapon, The Palestinian attacks destroyed the substantial support within Israel for a Palestinian peace deal, and increased support for stronger measures against Palestinian terrorism. The Palestinian terrorists are still at it, although many Palestinians admit that the tactic has failed, and has been counterproductive.

Al Qaeda also adopted suicide bomber tactics, particularly in Iraq. This turned out to be a major error. So many Moslems were killed, particularly women and children, that Arab public opinion turned against al Qaeda. Even Sunni Arabs in Iraq have been fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, despite the fact that al Qaeda is committing all this mayhem in the name of Sunni Arabs.

Al Qaeda began using suicide bombers in Pakistan six years ago, and were promptly taken apart by an enraged Pakistani government, with much public support. This, despite many Islamic conservatives in the government. Al Qaeda was largely driven out of most of Pakistan, and confined to the tribal areas along the Afghan border. Here, the Taliban had a lot of influence, and al Qaeda has convinced the Taliban to support a suicide bomber campaign in Afghanistan. This campaign has been even less successful than previous ones. The Taliban do not have the experienced support personnel (bomb makers and bomber handlers) to make most of the attacks successful by any measure. Meanwhile, most of the victims are Afghan civilians. Naturally, Afghans see these foreigners (Afghans are difficult to recruit as suicide bombers) as murderers who do not have Afghan interests at heart.

 Suicide bombing is described as a weapon of the weak. What it cannot be described as is a weapon of the victorious. In the last few decades, whoever used suicide bombers not only failed to gain anything, but saw their cause harmed in the process. You can draw your own conclusions.

Next Article → AFGHANISTAN: The Others