contagious terrorist methods

From: Vincent Campbell (
Date: Mon 06 Sep 2004 - 11:23:49 GMT

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    Hi Everyone,

    The list has been pretty quite for a while now.

    After 9/11 some debate was had on the list about the liklihood, or otherwise, of copycat attacks linked to theories of suicide contagion etc. etc.

    These haven't been borne out, in terms of hijacked airliners anyway, although a stronger case could be made for suicide bombing of the more simple kind (i.e. a person with a bomb on them, or in a car they drive into something) having begun to spread through wider dissemination of them through global media.

    There was an interesting piece in New Scientist a few months back reviewing a study that attempted to dismiss the the significant of religious fundamentalism on suicide bombing on the rather tenuous grounds, in my view anyway, that the majority of suicide bombers have been tamil tigers. I think they missed the point that the wider usage of suicide bombing has come in recognisable regions where religious fundamentalism is a significant issue. Poverty is obviously a contributory factor (not in the sense of poverty making people violent, more in the sense of poverty means inability to buy heavy weapons to compete with an organised military, so suicide bombers become a viable strategy on those grounds).

    Anyway, with the horror of Beslan, comes the strident possibility of this kind of attack occurring again elsewhere. Schools are soft targets, with maximum potential for doing what terrorism is all about- causing terror.

    Of course the added factor today is that even a school in the depths of the central asian/russian republics can be in millions of homes as it happens, and now not only Western homes as satellite TV reaches ever further into the developing world. Of course whether this is enough- i.e. the transmission of the tactic- is enough to see it replicated elsewhere, is another matter, of the kind key to memetics.


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