We've all heard the news of Suicide Bombers over the years, particulary in regard to the Palestinian / Israeli conflicts.
Lately, there have been a rash of bombings that appear to have the earmarks of Al Queda... in Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and in Kenya. There were even suicide attacks in Chechnya, where a separtist warlord has taken credit.
In regards to these types of attacks, I have heard many people refer to the killers as cowards, insane, out-of-their-minds, etc. I have even heard people attempt to profile them (though not lately) as "the easily influenced poverty-class" or "religious fanatics" that do not see the world the way their contemporaries do.
These kinds of comments concern me, since there is evidence to support other explanations.
Explanation and examination of this phenomenon of terror is vital if we are to find ways to prevent, predict or discourage it.
Evidence suggests that, in the PLO/Israeli conflict, most suicide bombers are well-educated and thought of as "normal" in their religious beliefs. There has been NO evidence of mental health issues that are beyond the expectation of what one might expect from an oppressed people.
In fact, every indication is that the bombers have a lot going for them compared to the average Palestinian citizen. Even in regards to religion, most characterizations that I have read/heard indicate that the bomber was not previously fanatical (though I concede that blowing oneself up in a crowded mall would be considered fanatism).
My thoughts on this have, lately, turned to the culture of the Palestinian people and what things the bombers have in common. A first thought is their common plight: the Palestinian people have lived under occupation for so long, that there are many who know no other way of life. "Occupation" is as much a part of their culture as flatbread and camels.
I'm not saying that this is the cause, but I am suggesting that this must affect their culture. I have to wonder how it must affect day-to-day life being born into, growing up with, and dying under occupation of a greater power.
It also struck me that it may very well be the targets of the suicide bomber that influence world opinion the most. Crowded malls and buses afford the most casualties and are guaranteed to be news items. If they limited attacks to government buildings, military sites and vehicles of the same, then the news might not become global. But chances are, they would have more credibility as "freedom fighters."
I suspect, however, that to the Palestinian, EVERY SINGLE Israeli is the enemy. Whether that Israeli be man, woman or child. Whether that Israeli be directly employed by the government/military or not. I also suspect that the same is true from the other end. The average Israeli views EVERY SINGLE Palestinian as the enemy.