Al Qaeda, and their Sunni Arab
allies in Iraq made a major effort using suicide bombers. Nearly 2,000 men, and
a few women, volunteered (including a few who were coerced or deceived) to make
attacks. About 90 percent of the attacks were against Iraqi civilians or
security personnel. The attacks against Americans killed 216 U.S. military
personnel. There were three times as many attacks against Iraqi troops and
police, and many more casualties (over 2,500 dead). Most of the suicide bomber
attacks were against civilians, and over 10,000 were killed. This effort has
become the second largest suicide attack campaign in the last century. The
largest was the Japanese use of suicide pilots, in air attacks on the U.S. Navy
(and some allied ships) during the later stages of World War II. Some 2,800
suicide pilots died. They managed to sink 34 ships and damage 368 others. About
4,900 sailors died. Only about 14 percent of the Kamikaze pilots survived U.S.
fighters and anti-aircraft fire, to actually hit a ship. The Kamikaze always
attacked military targets, while the suicide bombers tended to avoid anyone who
could shoot back.
the Kamikazes and Islamic suicide bombers, the idea was to demoralize the
opponent, and force an end to the conflict, or at least reduce the extent of
the attackers defeat. The tactic failed in both cases, although both Kamikazes
and Islamic "martyrs" are admired for
their courage. In the case of the Islamic suicide bombers, the tactics
backfired in that the civilian population, which was getting hurt the most,
turned on the terrorists. The many attacks on Iraqi security forces were
supposed to demoralize them, but that, by-and-large, did not work.