Re: contagious terrorist methods

From: Scott Chase (
Date: Tue 28 Sep 2004 - 04:29:14 GMT

  • Next message: Van oost Kenneth: "Re: contagious terrorist methods"

    --- Vincent Campbell <> wrote:

    > 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.
    There was that kid who flew a small planne into a building in Florida quite a while ago. The details escape me, but I think it was discussed on the list. There may have been some connection to 9-11, in a copycat sense.
    > These haven't been borne out, in terms of hijacked
    > airliners anyway,
    Thank goodness.
    > 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.
    Aren't those tactics sort of confined to the Islamists in Israel, the Occupied territories, and the unmentionable four-letter I-word?
    > 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.
    Maybe this sort of tactic is confined to Arabist or Islamist political circles.

    There's another sort of suicide tactic for political means, self-immolation, that I've read about which occurred in the 60's. I'm not sure of the religious sigificance. The first instances I know of were Buddhists who were protesting the oppressive South Vietnamese regime of the Catholic Ngo Dinh Diem. Apparently this method of protest crossed over to the US as a Quaker named Norman Morrison caught himself on fire in front of the Pentagon around 1965 and another protestor did the same thing in front of the UN. Could these self-immolations in Vietnam and the US be looked at as suicide contagions? As ghastly and wrong headed as they were, at least these suicides didn't involve high explosives and kill lots of innocent bystanders. Morrison had his little baby with him, but fortunately someone coaxed him to release it before he set himself ablaze.

    I don't know that the Quaker faith condones suicidal acts, but I think it has a leaning towards peace. Quaker activism played a role in abolition of slavery in the US so religion (fundamentalist or not) can play a positive role in society.

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