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Van de Voorde, Ccile Valrie.
Freedom fighters, freedom haters, martyrs, and evildoers :
b the social construction of suicide terrorism
h [electronic resource] /
by Ccile Valrie Van de Voorde.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
ABSTRACT: Suicide terrorism is characterized by the willingness of physically and psychologically war-trained individuals to die while destroying or attempting to annihilate enemy targets in furtherance of certain political or social objectives. Rooted in the historical, social, and psychological dimensions of international terrorism, suicide terrorism is neither a unique nor a new phenomenon. Its recent resurgence and the extensive media coverage it has received account for the misleading uniqueness of this violent, complex, and adaptive form of terrorism. This qualitative study examines the definitional and rhetorical processes by which suicide terrorism is socially constructed. Using a social constructionist theoretical framework coupled with a symbolic interactionist approach, this multi-case study effectively moves the analysis of suicide bombings beyond essentialist debates on asymmetrical warfare or terrorism and into a more nuanced appreciation of cultural meaning and human^ interaction. Hence this case study emphasizes how the interpretive understanding of suicide terrorism is associated with a biased representation of events and their alleged causes that is conditioned by deliberate attempts to stigmatize ideological enemies, manipulate public perceptions, and promote certain political interests. The primary research question is: How are socio-political processes, bureaucratic imperatives, and media structures involved in the social construction of suicide terrorism? Secondary research questions focus on determining how suicide terrorism is (a) a political weapon, (b) a communication tool, and (c) a politicized issue that fits into a moral panic framework. Methods used to conduct the analysis include in-depth interviews (phenomenological and elite interviewing) and document analysis (general document review and historical review). Findings highlight the interactions between suicide bombers (as contemporary folk devils), the news and entertainment media,^ the public, and agents of social control (politicians, lawmakers, law enforcement, and action groups), and their respective roles in the social construction of suicide terrorism. The limitations of the study, its significant theoretical and practical implications, as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2006.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
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Adviser: Thomas M. Mieczkowski, Ph.D.
Politics of fear.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Freedom Fighters, Freedom Hate rs, Martyrs, and Evildoers: The Social Construction of Suicide Terrorism by Ccile Valrie Van de Voorde A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirement for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of Criminology College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Thomas M. Mieczkowski, Ph.D. Kimberly M. Lersch, Ph.D. Christine S. Sellers, Ph.D. Wilson R. Palacios, Ph.D. Joseph A. Vandello, Ph.D. Date of Approval: April 6, 2006 Keywords: Suicide bombing, constructionism, sy mbolic interaction, folk devils, moral panics, politics of fear, terrorism prevention, case study Copyright 2006, Ccile Valrie Van de Voorde
Dedication This dissertation is dedicated to my Godmother, Urszula Pedreira, an amazing woman whose untimely death in November 200 4 made me reconsider my purpose in life at a time that was already particularly di fficult for me. She faced terminal illness with dignity, serenity, and grace. Her strength and determination became mine. Her bravery and integrity will never cease to inspire me. I also dedicate this work to current and future researchers in the field of terrorism. May you move beyond integrating literature and reworking old materials so as to ensure substantive new data and knowledge can eff ectively improve our objective understanding of the complex phenomenon of terrorism. Do exhort and exert yourself to contribute significant, original work and compelling anal yses to your chosen area of studies. When in doubt, follow Sir Francis BaconÂ’s words of wisdom: Â“If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must employ methods never before attempted.Â”
Acknowledgments My thanks and appreciation go to Tom Mieczkowski, chair of my dissertation committee, for encouraging and assisting me w ith my research and writing efforts. Many heartfelt thanks also go to the members of my committee, Kim Lersch, Chris Sellers, Wilson Palacios, and Joe Vandello, for invest ing their time and helping me improve my work. I am forever indebted to Mark Hamm and Jeff Ferrell for lighting my fire and opening my eyes to the real Â– albeit unde rground Â– world of criminology. Mark has always supported my research endeavors and ma de sure I knew where my priorities were. He will undoubtedly remind me of what is truly important in life in years to come. Jeff has inspired my work and worldview for many years now. Working with him over the next decades will be a delight Â– at TCU or wherever cultural criminology may take usÂ… I am also thankful for my friends, relatives, colleagues, professors, students, and many others whose valuable advice (and often need ed cool-headedness) helped me conduct my research and write my dissertation with a relatively sound mind. Finally, for their constant guidance, precious wisdom, and unconditional love, I ought to express my deepest gratitude to my parents, Anna and Herv. They have taught me to be demanding but fair (a useful mix in any classroom), to challenge conventions, to have faith in myself and, above all, to strive to be happy. Merci du fond du coeur.
i Table of Contents List of Tables v List of Figures vi Abstract vii Chapter One Â– Introduction 1 Chapter Two Â– Literature Review 5 Suicide Terrorism 6 Defining Terrorism 6 Phenomenology and Etiology 7 Psychological explanations of suicide terrorism 8 Socio-economic explanations of suicide terrorism 8 Religious and moral explanations of suicide terrorism 9 Isolating issues and cases 9 Anti-terrorism and counte r-terrorism issues 10 The sociology of suicide terrorism 10 Suicide Terrorism in Perspective 11 Main Characteristics 11 Historical Developments 13 Contemporary Trends and Issues 15 The Global War on Terror: War of Ideas and War of Words 18 Ideological warfare and the terrorist label 18 The FTO solution: Denomination or demonization? 19 Rationale for a Social Constructionist Approach to the Study of Suicide Terrorism 21 Social Constructionism 24 Defining Social Problems and Social Reality 25 Strict vs. Contextual Constructionism 27 Social Problems and Audiences 28 Public Images of Social Problems 29 Rhetoric and random violence 29 Mass media, symbolic violence, and representations of crime 29 Social Problems and Moral Panics 30 Overview of moral panics 30 Deviance and morality 32
ii Moral crusades and moral entrepreneurs 34 Rule creation and rule enforcement 35 Differential social power 37 Critique of Social Constructionism 38 Symbolic Interactionism 40 Overview and Underlying Assumptions 40 The Interpretive Tradition 41 Symbolic interaction and the study of human lived experience 42 Hermeneutics and interpretivists 42 The Chicago School of inte ractionism: Blumerian contributions to the interpretive tradition 46 Critique of Symbolic Interactionism 47 Summary of Literature and Purpose of Study 50 Chapter Three Â– Methodology 57 Multi-Case Study 57 Overview of Research Design 60 Case Identification a nd Selection Criteria 64 The Role of the Researcher 68 Data Collection Methods 73 Interviews 74 Document Analysis 78 Methodological Concerns 82 Credibility 85 Transferability 86 Dependability 88 Confirmability 91 Data Interpretation 92 Constant Comparative Analysis 92 Data Transcription and Storage 94 Codes and Analytic Categories 95 Synthetic Network Diagram 100 Chapter Four Â– Findings 102 Overview of Patterns and Themes 102 Suicide Bombings as Political Weapons 104 HizballahÂ’s Brand of Destruction 106 LTTE Suicide Bombings and Sri Lankan Politics 107 Chechen Suicide Bombing Operations 108 The London Bombings and European Politics 111 Suicide Terrorism as a Communication Tool 112 Overview of Media Coverage of Suicide Bombings 113 The Media as Publicity Agents 116 The Use of the Internet 120
iii Film Portrayals of Suicide Bombers 122 Moral Panics and the Politici zation of Suicide Terrorism 125 Suicide Bombers as Contemporary Folk Devils 125 Typical profile of a suicide bomber 126 The use of women in suicide bombing missions 130 Symbols and Demonization: The Post-September 11 Rhetoric 135 The clash of civilizations model 135 Bushspeak 137 The Â“terroristÂ” label 138 Summary of Findings 144 Chapter Five Discussion & Conclusions 145 Summary of Study 145 Theoretical Implications of Results 148 Appropriateness of the Theoretical Framework 148 The Use of Suicide Bombings as a Political Weapon 150 Suicide bombings as a winning practice of asymmetrical warfare 150 Strategic and tactical usefulness 151 The Use of Suicide Bombings as a Communication Tool 152 The mediaÂ’s perspective 152 The terrorist perspective 155 The governmental perspective 160 The Politicization of Suicide Terrorism and Moral Panics 164 Suicide terrorism and moral panics 164 Suicide bombers as folk devils 167 Collective insecurity and the politics of fear 170 Practical Implications of the Results 173 Countering Suicide Terrorism 174 Suicide Terrorism Prevention: W hy Preventive Measures Have Not Worked 175 Some Promising Counterterrorism Practices 177 Using Intelligence: Why Might Is Not Always Right 180 Adjusting Priorities and Re-Setting Agendas 183 Study Limitations and Suggestions for Further Research 185 Limitations 186 Future Research 189 References 195 Bibliography 210 Appendices 253 Appendix A: Foreign Terrorist Organizations (2005) 254 Appendix B: Suicide Terrorism Grant Questions 264
iv Appendix C: Strengthening Intellig ence to Better Protect America (2003) Â– The Terrorist Th reat Integration Center 270 Appendix D: Homeland Security Advisory System Â– Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies 277 About the Author End Page
v List of Tables Table 1. Binary of Violence Â– The West vs. the Other 20 Table 2. Sampling Strategies and Case Selection 67 Table 3. Sources of Data, Types of Evidence Collected, and Sample Size 74 Table 4. Interviewee Demographi cs for On-Site One-on-One Phenomenological and Elite In terviewing Process, By Country 76 Table 5. Numbers of Articles Publishe d in Major Newspapers and News Magazines, By Keywords, 1980-2005 79 Table 6. Master List of Categories and Codes 96 Table 7. Concept Frequencies, Count and Percentage, By Categories 99 Table 8. Kimhi & EvenÂ’s Classification of Suicide Bomber Prototypes and their Correlates 128
vi List of Figures Figure 1. Social Construction of Suicid e Terrorism: Multi-Case Study Data Matrix 59 Figure 2. Research Design Concept Map 93 Figure 3. Network Diagram for the Social Construction of Su icide Terrorism 101
vii Freedom Fighters, Freedom Hate rs, Martyrs, and Evildoers: The Social Construction of Suicide Terrorism Ccile Valrie Van de Voorde ABSTRACT Suicide terrorism is characterized by the willingness of physically and psychologically war-trained individuals to die while destroying or attempting to annihilate enemy targets in furtherance of certain politic al or social objectives. Rooted in the historical, social, and psychological dimensions of international terro rism, suicide terrorism is neither a unique nor a new phenomenon. Its recent resurgence and the extensive media coverage it has received account for the misleading uniqueness of this violent, complex, and adaptive form of terrorism. This qualitative study examines the definitional and rhetorical processes by which suicide terrorism is socially c onstructed. Using a social constructionist theoretical fr amework coupled with a symbo lic interactioni st approach, this multi-case study effectively moves the analysis of suicide bombings beyond essentialist debates on asymme trical warfare or terrorism and into a more nuanced appreciation of cultural meaning and human interaction. Hence this case study emphasizes how the interpretive understanding of suicide terrorism is associated with a biased representation of events and their a lleged causes that is conditioned by deliberate attempts to stigmatize ideological enemies, manipulate public per ceptions, and promote certain political interests. The primary re search question is: How are socio-political processes, bureaucratic imperatives, and me dia structures involved in the social
viii construction of suicide terrorism? Secondary research questions focus on determining how suicide terrorism is (a ) a political weapon, (b) a co mmunication tool, and (c) a politicized issue that fits into a moral panic framework. Methods used to conduct the analysis include in-depth interviews ( phenomenological and elite interviewing) and document analysis (general document review and historical review). Findings highlight the interactions between suic ide bombers (as contemporary fo lk devils), the news and entertainment media, the public, and agents of social control (politicians, lawmakers, law enforcement, and action groups), and their resp ective roles in the so cial construction of suicide terrorism. The limitati ons of the study, its significan t theoretical and practical implications, as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.
1 Chapter One Introduction Suicide terrorism is characterized by the willingness of physically and psychologically war-trained indivi duals to die in the course of destroying or attempting to annihilate enemy targets in furtherance of cer tain political or social objectives. Suicide terrorism is rooted in the hi storical, social, and psychologica l dimensions of international terrorism, as a result of centuries of oppositi on between various groups and their actual or perceived enemies. As such, it is neither a unique nor a new phenomenon. Rather, it is an integral feature of the histor ical development of oppositiona l terrorism worldwide and the product of an assortment of tactics, goal s, and motives characteristic of more conventional terrorism. Over the past three years, more suicid e terror attacks have been recorded worldwide than in the last twenty-five years. This resurgence of suicide terrorism in several countries and the extensive media coverage it has received account for the seeming, misleading uniqueness of the phenom enon. Until recently, it was witnessed in less than a dozen countries, primarily Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and Israel. It has now spread across the world and even reached U.S. soil. Today, about twenty religious or secular terrorist groups have resorted to or are cap able of using suicide terrorism against their own governments and foreign governments alik e. Such an unprecedented propagation of suicide terror attacks against Western interests at the dawn of the twenty-first century has
2 made governments and the public glaringly aw are of how vulnerable they are to this extremely violent, adaptive form of terrorism and how imperative it is to devise effective and efficient measures to combat and prevent suicide terrorism. Nonetheless, the phenomenon of suicide terrorism, its etiology, outcomes, and implications are still miscons trued today by policymakers an d scholars alike. There has been an outpouring of literature on terrori sm since September 2001 and, in particular, articles and book chapters about suicide te rrorism have multiplied in a variety of academic journals and more mainstream books. The majority of these pieces focus on the contemporary development of suicide bombings as the ultimate terrorist act and the legitimization of such a violent practice as a tool of war. They also typically focus on Islamic fundamentalism as the root cause of su icide terrorism, despit e the fact that nonMuslim religious groups and even secular group s have resorted to suicide terrorism, and highlight the psychological or psychopathologi cal features of typi cal suicide bombers. This distinctive study shall advance our understanding of the complex and adaptive phenomenon that is suic ide terrorism. The latter, much like terrorism in general, is a socio-political concept that is underst ood differently from one society to another and from one historical or political era to the next. As such, suic ide terrorism is essentially the product of the interaction of social and political mechanisms, bureaucratic demands, and mass media organizations. The popular imager y and stereotypes manufactured by these processes, and perpetuated by government o fficials as well as many academics, do not provide us with an accurate representation of the phenomenon of suicide terrorism. Even the mere definition of suicide terrorism require s a very subjective, co mplex approach that is laden with political unde rtones and contradictions.
3 Suicide terrorism is not only a comp lex, adaptive phenomenon and a longstanding tool of asymmetric warfare, but also a concept that varies depending on the socio-political context involved. Certain even ts (objective actions) will be labeled as suicide terrorism in a specific context or segment of society, whereas similar events would not be construed as such in a differe nt context or another segment of society. Hence, the interpretation (subjective meaning) of the concept suicide terrorism calls for further study in order to fully understand the mechanisms and dynamics involved and, ultimately, the growing threat it poses worldwide. The interpretive understanding of suicide terrorism is s ubjective and contingent upon rhetorical mechanisms by which diverse interest groups and bureaucratic agencies impose their particular opinion on suicide terr orism as the set of be liefs that must be recognized as right (i.e., the new and onl y acceptable norm). This study proposes to examine the subjective definitional and rhetorical processes by which suicide terrorism is socially constructed. Using a constructionist and interactionist approach, the purpose of this multi-case study is to demonstrate that suicide terrori sm is essentially a socially constructed problem, and how collective definitions, inte rpretations, and understa ndings of suicide bombings depend upon the interaction of the me dia, the public, and agents of social control (politicians, law enforcement, lawmaker s, and interest groups). Such an approach shall effectively move the an alysis of suicide terrorism beyond essentialist debates and into more nuanced understandings of cultura l and ideological meaning, socio-political context, and human action. Hence, this study is designed to determine how the interpretive understanding of suicide terrorism is associat ed with a biased representation
4 of events (and their alleged causes) in offi cial and media accounts that is conditioned by deliberate attempts to stigmatize ideological enemies, manipulate public perceptions, and promote certain political intere sts. Thus, the main research question on which this study focuses is: How are socio-political proce sses, bureaucratic imperatives, and media structures involved in the soci al construction of suicide te rrorism? A subset of three research questions can be derived from this (a) How is suicide terrorism a political weapon? (b) How is suicide te rrorism used as a communicati on tool? (c) How is suicide terrorism a politicized issue that fits into the moral panic framework? This chapter has presented the intr oduction, statement of the problem, significance of the present multi-case study, and research questions. Chapter 2 presents a conceptual framework, or theoretical perspective, with a review of the extant literature on suicide terrorism, social constr uctionism, and symbolic interac tionism, as pertains to the issue under investigation. The methodology and procedures for data collection are described in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 presents the findings of the study. Finally, Chapter 5 comprises a summary of the multi-case study, a comprehensive discussion of the theoretical and practical outco mes of the analysis, as well as an examination of the limitations of the latter and suggestions for future research.
5 Chapter Two Literature Review The extant literature on terrorism is sizab le and diverse. Prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on U.S. soil, te rrorism was already a topic of interest across many academic disciplines, mainly political science, sociology, and psychology. Since September 2001, thousands of articles and books on terrorism have been published in an attempt to understand the dynamics of th is peculiar form of violence. The field, however, is dominated by histor ical surveys and literature in tegrators (less than 5% of published scholarly pieces rely on interviews, for instance). Most authors rely solely upon open-source documents, which accounts for the ov erall lack of meani ngful primary data and substantive new knowledge. Thus Â“[t]errori sm research exists on a diet of fast-food research: quick, cheap, rea dy-to-hand and nutritionally dubiousÂ” (Silk e, 2004:68). Unlike terrorism in general, the partic ular phenomenon of suicide terrorism remains largely understudied and fundament ally misconstrued. Impartial efforts (by scholars, governments or the media) to fully and methodically comprehend suicide bombings have been minor compared to effo rts to prevent or control them. Without a clear, thorough understanding of suicide bombi ngs within their specific context, any efforts to combat them with an ti-terrorism (operational) or counter-terrorism (preventive) measures will remain futile. This analysis aims distinctively at determining whether suicide bombings are a product of specific socio-political processes and ideological
6 constructions, i.e., how they can be interprete d and politicized as terrorism or not based on a subjective construal of cer tain events and their allege d causes. Inasmuch as there have been more suicide terror attacks worldwide over the past four years than in the last two decades, it appears crucial to provide a sound understanding of the socio-political and ideological constructions of this significant contemporary phenomenon. The sociology of terrorism has been mostly neglecte d in the scholarly literature and the study of suicide terrorism, as noted below, has typically been limited to the overall use of suicide bombings as a political weapon without much attention being paid to the sociopolitical dynamics, institutional processe s, and complex biases inherent in the phenomenon, its interpretation, and our understanding of it. The following examination of the current literature on suicide terrorism, social constructionism, and symbolic interactionism shall provide an overview of the conceptual and theoretical foundation of this mu lti-case study of suicide bombings. Suicide Terrorism Defining Terrorism Although scholars in various disciplines have focused on the phenomenon, and even though a plethora of articles are availabl e on the topic, there is still no agreed upon, all-encompassing definition of terrorism (Archick & Gallis, 2003; Caracci, 2002; Crenshaw, 1992; Hewitt, 2000; Hoffman, 2003; Hudson, 2000; International Policy Insitute for Counter-Terrorism, 2002; Jenki ns, 2003; Juergensmeyer, 2000; Laqueur, 2003; Nyatepe-Coo & Zeisler-Vralsted, 2004; Poland, 2004; Simonsen & Spindlove, 2003; van Leeuwen, 2003c; White, 2003; Whittaker, 2001, 2002). The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) defines te rrorism as the unlawful use of force against persons or
7 property to intimidate or coerce a governmen t, the civilian population, or any segment thereof, in the furtherance of political or social objectives (P oland, 2004; Simonsen & Spindlove, 2003; White, 2003). As Schweitzer (2001) points out, Â“[d]efining a terror at tack as a suicide bombing depends primarily on whether the perpetra tor is killed.Â” If the bomber dies, as intended while completing his or her mission, the terror attack will qualify as a suicide bombing. A contrario, the bombing cannot possibly be a su icide bombing if the perpetrator does not die in the course of the attack. Hence, a suicide terror attack can be construed as a violent, politically motiv ated attack, carried out in a deliberate state of awareness by a person who blows himself up together with his chosen target. The pre-meditated certain de ath of the perpetrator is the precondition for the success of the attack. (Ibid.) Phenomenology and Etiology Virtually all the articles and books published on suicide terrorism focus on phenomenology, etiology, and promising prev ention measures. Most articles on the Â“genesis of suicide terrorismÂ” (Atran, 2003) underscore not only the processes by which suicide terrorism has developed from its early manifestations to contemporary times, but also the general characteristics of the phenomenon as observed around the world today (Beyler, 2003a; Council on Foreign Relations 2004; Dale, 1988; Gunaratna, 2000, 2001; Hoffman, 2003; Hoffman & McCormick, 2004; International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 2000; Kondaki, 2001; Pi pes, 1986; Schweitzer, 2001; Sprinzak, 2000a, 2000b). In particular, Pape (2003) studied 188 su icide terrorist a ttacks perpetrated worldwide between 1980 and 2001. His study evid ences that suicide terrorism follows a
8 Â“strategic logicÂ” distinctively intended to obt ain considerable territo rial concessions by coercing contemporary liberal democracies. Psychological explanations of suicide terrorism. Several authors have focused on the psychological issues inhere nt in the Â“making ofÂ” a suic ide bomber, most notably the absence of major psychopathol ogical traits or psychiat ric features (Atran, 2003, 2004; Glausiusz, 2003; Mansdorf, 2003; Perina, 2002 ; Sprinzak, 2000; Van Biema, 2001). In an attempt to provide an unde rstanding of Â“what makes su icide bombers tick,Â” Shuman (2001) examines Palestinian bombers and highlig hts their strict relig ious education with promises of paradise in reward for martyr dom, the support they rece ive from their parents for their convictions, as well as the brai nwashing process and the encouragement received Â“from a Palestinian society with no other means of fighting back against oppression and humiliation.Â” Socio-economic explanations of suicide terrorism. Yet others highlight the socioeconomic and political processes involved in the development and perpetuation of suicide terrorism recruitment campai gns and missions. Strenski ( 2003) emphasizes the Â“social logicÂ” of Muslim Â“human bombers.Â” Atran (2003, 2004) firmly rebukes the position adopted by many government officials and po litical observers who deem contemporary suicide terrorists (especially in the Middle East) as Â“crazed cowards bent on senseless destruction who thrive on poverty and ignor ance.Â” Kushner (2002) focuses on the sociopolitical aspects of suicide terrorism, whereas Griset and Mahan (2003) put the phenomenon in perspective within a more general study of terr orism. The latter approach is in fact the preferred one in mo st terrorism books available today.
9 Religious and moral explanations of suicide terrorism. The religious and moral roots of suicide terrorism ar e also at the center of several articles, book chapters, and books. The Â“moral infrastructureÂ” of suicid e bombers is emphasized to offer an understanding of the phenomenon from a mora l judgment perspective (Berko, 2004). The significance of suicide terrorism as religious violence, religious propaganda tool, and ultimate jihad is at the center of numerous article s and books published over the past few years (see, for instance, Ali, 2002; Bond, 2004; International Policy Institute for CounterTerrorism, 2001; Israeli, 2003; Laqueur 2003; Selegut, 2003; Victor, 2003). The substantial role of religious fundamentalis m and martyrdom in Islamic terrorism is typically favored (see, for instance, Interna tional Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 2001; Israeli, 2002, 2003). The endorsement of suicide terrorism by top Muslim clerics (Fighel, 2002) garners as much attention from scholars and analysts as does the interdiction of the trend by se nior officials and religious leaders (Paz, 2001; Pope, 2003). Isolating issues and cases. Some articles or books provide more or less developed accounts (rather than analyses ) of cases involving female suicide bombers (Beyler, 2003b; Eshel, 2001; Victor, 2003). Others con centrate on specific groups using suicide terrorism or countries affected by it. For instance, Abuza (2002) reports on Al-QaedaÂ’s activities and allies in Southeast Asia, with an emphasis on suicide bombings perpetrated by Jemaah Islamyah and security concerns in the Philippines and Indonesia. Van de Voorde (2005) examines Sri LankaÂ’s Tam il Tigers, describing the LTTEÂ’s Black Tiger suicide unit as the masters of suicide bombi ng. Palestinian suicide te rrorism is the focal point of many articles and books available t oday (see, for instance, Kimhi & Even, 2003; Luft, 2002; Moghadam, 2003; Simon & Stev enson, 2003; Stork, 2002; Telhami, 2002).
10 Moghadam (2003) analyzes suicide bombers of the al-Aqsa Intif ada (from September 2000 to June 2002 only) in order to highlig ht the motivational and organizational elements involved in the process. Simon and Stevenson (2003) focus specifically on Hamas, its ideology, operations, and influen ce on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Anti-terrorism and counter-terrorism issues. Ways to Â“outsmartÂ” suicide terrorists (Sprinzak, 2000b) or Â“defeat suicide terro rismÂ” (Wolfson, 2003) are sporadically discussed in the extant literature. In 2001, the International Policy Institute for CounterTerrorism (ICT) published a collection of chap ters on countering suicide terrorism that provides both an overview of this worldw ide phenomenon, brief case studies of specific countries or groups, as well as recommendati ons regarding realis tic strategies and promising measures against suicide terro rism. Moghadam (2003) discusses counterterrorism strategies targeti ng Palestinian suicide terrorism and suggests that Israel identify ways of eliminating or at least reducing the incentives that encourage some Palestinians to volunteer for suicide missions Simon and Stevenson (2003) suggest ways for Israel to deal with Hamas and survey th e role of the United States in handling the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authorit y. Van de Voorde (2005) focuses on the Liberation Tiger of Ta mil Eelam (LTTE) and offers policy recommendations to assess and effectively a ddress the issue of ethnic separatism and violence in Sri Lanka. The sociology of suicide terrorism. What is still missing from the extant literature is a thorough analysis of Â“the dynamics through which terrorism becomes a social phenomenonÂ” (Turk, 2004:271). Sociologists have however, contributed to the study of
11 terrorism in general by adopting an interpreti ve approach in order to determine that terrorism is a social cons truction (Ben-Yehuda, 1993; Tur k, 2002a, 2004; Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). As Turk (2004) stresses, Â“[c]ontrary to the impression fostered by official incidence counts and media reports, terr orism is not a given in the real world but is instead an interpretation of events and their presumed causesÂ” (2004:271). For instance, it appears that the United States itself has a long history of violence associat ed with political, labor, racial, religious, and other social and cult ural conflicts. . Assassinations, bombings, massacres, and other secret ive deadly attacks have caused many thousands of casualties. Yet, fe w incidents have been defined as terrorism or the perpetrators as te rrorists. Instead, authorities have typically ignored or downplayed th e political significance of such violence, opting to portray and treat th e violence as apolitical criminal acts by deranged or evil individuals, outl aws or gangsters, or Â‘importedÂ’ agitators. . In official public usage, terrorism is far more likely to refer to incidents associated with agents and supporters of presumably foreignbased terrorist organizations such as al Qaeda than with the violence of home-grown militants. (2004:272) Suicide Terrorism in Perspective Main Characteristics Suicide terrorism is a form of terrori sm characterized by the willingness of physically and psychologically wa r-trained individuals to die in the course of destroying or attempting to annihilate enemy targets in furtherance of certain political or social objectives. A suicide terror operation is a polit ically motivated violen t attack perpetrated by self-aware individuals who actively a nd purposely cause their own death through blowing themselves up along with their c hosen target. The ensured death of the perpetrator is a precondition for the success of his or her mission.
12 Suicide operations are differentiated depe nding on whether they occur on or off the battlefield. Battlefield operations are those in which suicide bombers belong to the attacking groups. For instance, during World War II, scores of Japanese pilots known as Kamikaze (i.e., Â“the divine windÂ”) used their pl anes as missiles to crash into U.S. military targets. Japan first used suicide attacks dur ing the December 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. In the fall of 1944, the Japanese Imperial Ar my organized massive suicide attacks, known as Â“Tokkotai.Â” In addition to destroying U.S. warships, the primary purpose of the Tokkotai was to launch a psychological warf are against Americans and discourage them from engaging in the conflict. The Kamik aze pilots believed that serving and honoring their Emperor by becoming human bombs would open the gates of heaven for them and guarantee their eternal happiness. Moreover, besi des the promise of paradise and spiritual integrity, the majority of the Kamikaze were motivated by revenge and a desire to save their country from the invading, all-conquering Americans. The Kamikaze were therefore dying for a cause, serving both God and their country. Therefore, even though they target civilians instead of soldiers, Palestinian suicide bombers have been compared to Kamikaze terrorists since they typically also believe that they are fighting not only for their country but also against th e enemies of God, that is, Is rael and America. Operations taking place off the battlefield on the other hand, usually invo lve single suicide bombers; however, multiple suicide bombers have also been used, as evidenced in attacks perpetrated by Hamas or the LTTE. The targets are generally varied: they can be either stationary or mobile, human beings or infr astructures; their nature can be civilian, military, political, economic, or cultural (Int ernational Policy Insitute for CounterTerrorism, 2002; Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004).
13 Historical Developments History shows that suicide att acks are indubitably a long-standing modus operandi for terrorist groups. In ancient times, a couple of legendary sects, the Jewish Sicarii (Zealots) and the Islamic Hashis hiyun (Assassins), were well known for committing suicide terror attacks (Schweitzer 2002; Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). From the mid-eighteenth century to the mid-twentieth century, various Muslim communities in Asia also opted for terrorist su icide attacks in their fight against European colonialism. Suicide operations were carri ed out against Western hegemonists on the Malabar Coast of Southwestern India, in No rthern Sumatra in Atjeh, as well as in the Southern Philippines in both Mindanao and Su lu. The terrorists belonged to a minority subcultural group within the Muslim communi ty; although they were established along the coast of the Indian Ocean, they terrori zed Europeans both in the region and on the Old Continent. The suicide attacks would take place whenever hopeless militant Muslims would give up on resisting the Europeans. Their purpose was not only to protect the honor of the Islamic community, but also to terrify Europeans or local Christians. The terrorists considered their actions as a privat e jihad: they were driven by their intense religious commitment and their aspiration to pe rsonal merit. Characteristic of the suicidal jihads was the heroic literature they spaw ned (e.g., songs, poems, legal and theological treatises, epic narratives); it glorified both martyrdom and the rituals performed prior to carrying out the attacks. Epics specifically celebrated the sacrifice made by the suicide terrorists and encouraged other Muslims in th e community to emulate the martyrs. Since the suicide attacks typically happened when military opposition to colonialism had been
14 unsuccessful, they were suspended once innovativ e political prospects flourished in the area (sometimes as late as the 1920s) (Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). As Dale (1988) explains in his study of anti-colonial terrorism in Islamic Asia, although the attacks did not involve bombings, they we re Â“a premodern form of terrorism, and by studying them it is possible to appreciate why many Muslims regard the recent terrorist attacks in the Middle East as only a more politicized variant of a type of anticolonial resistance th at long antedates the twen tieth centuryÂ” (1988:39). The contemporary trend of suicide terrorism in the Middle East is a result of the use and misuse of Islam as a political tool by Islami st, fundamentalist movements. Political Islam, even its most vicious and extremist manifest ations, appeared early on in Islamic history owing to radical puritans such as the Kharijites, who would attack Muslims they did not deem devout or virtuous enough. Modern forms of politicized Islam are derived from the Wahhabi reforms initiated in Arabia in the late eighteenth century. Today, the extremist ideology developed by the Wahhabis is still pr omoted by their spiritu al heirs in Saudi Arabia and the al-Qaeda network (V an de Voorde & Mason, 2004). Hence, put in the historical perspe ctive of the development of oppositional terrorism across the world, the contemporary tr end of suicide terrorism appears much less exceptional or unique. Rather, it is an e ssential factor of the profound, underlying animosity between terrorist organizations a nd their governmental foes. Suicide terrorism merely mirrors the development of general te rrorist tactics, as we ll as the ability of terrorist groups to refine th eir methods of operation in orde r to wage the most efficient and cost-effective psychological warfare of all, which also coincides with the advancement of technology and the evolution of the socio-economic forces inherent in
15 todayÂ’s society (Intern ational Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, 2002; Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). As emphasized by Boaz Ganor (2002a), the executive director of the International Policy Institute for Counter-Terrorism, at the 2000 International Conference on Countering Suicide Terrorism, Suicide terrorism constitutes a si gnificant escalation in terrorist activity. In his ability to implement th e attack at precisely the time and place where it will cause the maximum number of casualties and greatest damage, the suicide bomber is virtually guaranteed success. Even the least deadly of such attacks succeed in st riking a devastating blow to public morale. (2002a:1) Suicide terrorism is all the more threateni ng because of the difficulties of combating it, the large number of casualties it creates, and the religious and ideological zeal it inspires. It is a phenomenon that often, though not always, goes hand in hand with religious extremism Â– distorting religion in the service of political aims. Contemporary Trends and Issues Terrorism today is very different from ancient methods of warfare; likewise, contemporary suicide terrorism has departed fr om the ancient strategies that spawned it. The primary purpose of suicid e terrorism is to cause maximum physical damage and subsequently paralyze entire populations w ith overwhelming fear and angst. This guarantees the devastating, negative psychologica l effect of the impromptu operations not only on the direct attack victims, but also on entire populations. The high number of casualties in suicide attacks further wa rrants worldwide media coverage, which guarantees the exposure of suicide terrorist organizations on the international scene. Suicide terrorism has consequently become one of the most spectacular and dreadful
16 weapons available to terroris ts, along with blowing up airp lanes in mid air and using weapons of mass destruction (V an de Voorde & Mason, 2004). The currently observed manifestations of suicide terrorism have typically involved terrorists carrying explosive charge s concealed on their bodies or transported by various vehicles (generally car s, trucks, boats, or even bi cycles and animals). Attacks usually involved one or two bombers. Terrori st bombings target enclosed spaces (e.g., buses, trains), semi-confined spaces (e.g., rest aurants, cafs, hotels), and open spaces (e.g., open marketplace, bus stop, pedestrian areas) (Almogy, Belzberg, Mintz, Pikarsky, Zamir, & Rivkind, 2004). As Almogy et al. ( 2005) emphasize, Â“[t]he combination of military-grade explosive material, high-mass shrapnel, and precise control of the timing of detonation has transformed suicide bombing attacks into an ultimate tool in the hands of terroristsÂ” (2005:390). The lethal effect of the bombs is often amplified by using explosives packed with metallic pellets, nails and bolts, or bombers who are carriers of viruses such as HIV or Hepatitis B and C (Almogy et al., 2005; Kluger et al., 2005; Siegel-Itzkovich, 2001). The mass casualty situation that can ensue from a terrorist bombing is a concern to the emergency management community. Â“S uicide bombing attacks seriously challenge the most experienced medical facilitiesÂ” (A lmogy, Belzberg, Mintz, Pikarsky, Zamir, & Rivkind, 2004:295) and require ev en large-volume trauma cente rs to update and modify their protocol regarding casualty management triage, and treatment. Furthermore, the likelihood of severe injury and multiple contamination resulting from blast exposure presents new challenges to the civilian medical corps in advanced and developing countries alike (Almogy, Belzberg, Mintz, Pikarsky, Zamir, & Rivkind, 2004; Mrena,
17 Paakkonen, Back, Pirvola, & Ylikoski, 2004; Siegel-Itzkovich, 2001; Zafar, Rehmani, Chawla, Umer, & Mohsin-e-Azam, 2005). Using passenger airliners to organize air borne suicide attacks, on the other hand, is a relatively innovative a nd highly effective method. As explained by Rohan Gunaratna (2001) after the September 2001 atta cks on U.S. soil, Â“[t]he use of passenger airliners in a suicide role demonstrates an escalation in th e threat aimed at causing mass casualties. As the threshold has been crossed, it is very li kely that several other terrorist groups will attempt similar operations in the immediate or foreseeable futureÂ” (2001:8). The concept of hijacking and employing passenger airliners in a suicide mission can be traced back to the Middle East. The idea first developed in the mid-1980s as Middle Eastern terrorist groups attempted to develop an air capability, primarily to gain access from Lebanon into Israel, and therefor e acquired light air vehicles and trained soon-to-be-kamikaze pilots with much sophistication throughout the 1990s. Until the fall of 2001, although Â“the Western security inte lligence community has been aware of terrorist consideration of the airborne suic ide option for nearly th ree decadesÂ” (Ibid.), there had been little to no assessment of wh at should be done in order to safeguard the individuals and infrastructures that could be targeted by airb orne suicide activities. Prior to the September 2001 unprecedented attacks on symbolic landmarks on U.S. soil, there are only two examples of terrorist groups tr ying to use passenger ai rliners in order to carry out a suicide attack. First, in 1986, Hizballah followers hijacked a TWA commercial jetliner and were determined to crash it into buildings in downtown Tel Aviv. The second attempt dates back to December 24, 1994, when the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) hijacked an Air France flight in Algiers in an effort to raise international concern
18 over the Algerian struggle and punish Fran ce for supporting the Al gerian government. The aircraft, which had over 225 passengers and crew on board, left for France after several women and children were released and three men killed. The GIA cell, led by 25year-old Abdul Abdallah Yahia (a.k.a. Abou), intended to cr ash the fully fueled plane into the Eiffel Tower in Paris or, if their effo rt failed, to blow the plane up in mid-air over the French capital. Seemingly however, becau se of the strong likelihood of significant governmental retaliation, Islamic terrorist gr oups (whether Asian or Middle Eastern) have overall been reluctant to carry out mass-casualty attacks (Jacinto, 2002). The Global War on Terror: War of Ideas and War of Words Ideological warfare and the terrorist label. Terrorism is fundamentally a socially constructed problem (Ben-Yehuda, 1993; Tu rk, 2002a, 2004; Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). Hence the subjective interpretations invol ved in the constructi on process Â“are not unbiased attempts to depict tr uth but rather conscious effort s to manipulate perceptions to promote certain interests at th e expense of others. When people and events come to be regularly described in public as terrorists and terrorism some governmental or other entity is succeeding in a wa r of words in which the opponent is promoting alternative designations such as Â‘martyrÂ’ and Â‘liber ation struggleÂ’Â” (Tur k, 2004:271-272). Indeed, Â“parties in conflict are trying to stigmatize one another. The construction and selective application of definitions of terrorism are embedded in the dynamics of political conflicts, where ideological warfare to cast the enemy as an evildoer is a dimension of the struggle to win support for oneÂ’s own caus eÂ” (2004:273). Â“TerrorismÂ” thus becomes a convenient label that is used in a Â“perva sive and indiscriminateÂ” manner (Bassiouni, 1981:2) to vilify oneÂ’s enemy. As Davidson (1986) explains,
19 Labeling oneÂ’s opponent a terrorist is one way to barbarize both his image and his cause. Many world leaders see terrorism as monolithic: that is, they trace all important terrorist actions Â– either directly or indirectly Â– to the same source. In the U.S. they are branded as degenerative acts of immoral enemies. . The terror of on eÂ’s foes is real terror, premeditated and pathological, while that of one Â’s friends is only a temporary aberration, a mistake, to be addressed, if at all, by quiet diplomacy. . One of the consequences of the bipolar struggle in which states like Israel and the U.S. believe themselves to be involved is that the space for objectivity becomes considerably narrowed . [and] it is hard to seek the causes of the individual acts of te rrorism dispassionately. (1986:109) The FTO solution: Denomination or demonization? Terrorism is a dynamic and complex phenomenon. It is therefore difficu lt to determine exactly how many terrorist groups or organizations exist today. In the Un ited States, the Offi ce of Counterterrorism of the Department of State is responsible for identifying Foreign Te rrorist Organizations (FTOs), the groups and organizations designate d by the Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. Being labeled as a terrorist group ha s legal, political, and fiscal consequences. FTO designations play a critical role in the fight against terrorism and can be an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business. The 42 current FTOs (as of Oc tober 2005) are listed in Appendix A. On the other hand, Â“pronouncements by the U.S. State Department . reflect assessments not only of objective threat but also of the political, economic, and military implications of naming particular entities as terroristÂ” (Turk, 2 004:272). Ultimately, the process of labeling people or entities as te rrorists results in th e demonization of that group, organization, individual, or sponsor base d on criteria unilaterally determined and selectively applied by the U.S. administrati on. Categorizing terrorists as Â“evildoersÂ” or Â“evil cowardsÂ” has indeed been the approach of choice in the past few years, especially in
20 reference to members and supporters of th e Al-Qaeda network (Atran, 2004; Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). President Bush has, in effect, repeatedly declared that it is the responsibility of the United States Â“to rid the world of EvilÂ” (Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). He also named Iraq, Iran, and North Ko rea the three major components of the Â“Axis of EvilÂ” that ought to be fought rele ntlessly in the war on terror, much like President Reagan had targeted the U.S.S.R. as the Â“Empire of EvilÂ” two decades earlier. Such reductionist and moralistic rhetor ic unfortunately c ontributes nothing positive or productive to the fight against su icide terrorism or international terrorism. Publicly pitting the moral world of Good, as defined by the United States, versus the amoral world of Evil of the terrorists only prom otes a rhetorical style that actually feeds into the similarly dichotomous extremist Is lamic worldview pitting the House of God ( Dar al-Islam or House of Submission) against the House of War ( Dar al-Harb ). This Â“simple dualism of violence . is . reminiscent of Edward SaidÂ’s notion of Orientalism . a discourse a bout the East which carries with it notions of the chaotic, the violent, the disorderly, the treacherous, and the irrational . [to create] an Other in a binary mode which, by contrast, serves to define the West, the OccidentÂ” (Young, 2004:1). This dualism of violence is summarized in Table 1. Table 1 Binary of Violence Â– The West vs. the Other The West The Other Us Them Good Evil Moral Immoral / Amoral Rational Irrational Justified Hysterical Focused Wanton Response Provocation Defensive Offensive Generating Security Inspiring Terror Modernity Anti-Modernity
21 Although the tendency to adopt double standards is recurr ent in foreign policy and the somewhat naive good vs. evil worldview is prevalent in American culture and politics, demonizing oneÂ’s foes is neither constructive nor commendable. The success of suicide terrorist campaigns de pends on the ability of the bombers to dehumanize their enemy (Sprinzak, 1998; Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). Applying the same kind of rhetoric and reasoning to su icide terrorism policy-making and prevention is rather senseless. Instead of imposing the American style of democracy onto others as the one and only sustainable mode of civilization acro ss the globe, the United States and its allies must work towards bettering their understa nding of the socio-cu ltural and religious values of the countries where suicide terro rism sponsors and supporters are found (Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). Rationale for a Social Constructionist Appr oach to the Study of Suicide Terrorism Contrary to popular belief and what po licymakers and the media have insinuated in the past few years, suicid e terrorism is not a new phenome non. It originated in ancient times and has simply evolved over time, deve loping as other forms of terrorism have. Rather than a new weapon in the arsenal of terrorists groups, suicide terrorism is a longstanding, highly adaptable and extremely violen t tool of Â“propaganda by deedÂ” that is constantly reshaped by technological adva nces and contemporary social events. Terrorist suicide attacks are characteri zed by the use of rather primitive means which, thanks to meticulous planning (incl uding the recruitment, formation, and training of the bombers or attack teams), result in considerable psychologi cal and physical harm. Terrorist suicide attacks happe n without warning and are virt ually always successful in wreaking utter chaos upon entire populations They are prime weapons of psychological
22 warfare and, as such, constitute one of the mo st dangerous weapons available to terrorists today. Studies typically focus on the Â“who, wh en, and whereÂ” instead of the Â“why and howÂ” of suicide bombing attacks. The scholarly literature on suicide bombings therefore fails to provide a thorough, obj ective analysis and a critical understanding of dynamics and patterns. It merely offers an erroneous interpretation of suicide terrorism as a homogenous phenomenon, thus ignoring that it is a fundamentally ad aptive, resilient, complex phenomenon involving a wide array of actors and a variety of activities. The literature on suicide terrorism is further ch aracterized by a lack of applied focus: it generally relies on an arbitr ary extension of te rrorism research findings to suicide terrorism without further analys is or inquiry into the distin ctive features of the latter. In order to thwart and pre-empt suicide terrorism, the international intelligence community and governments around the world mu st concentrate their counterterrorism efforts on interrupting suicide terror attacks in their preparatory phase To prevent suicide terrorism, it is crucial to fully comprehend th e complex combination of factors that exhort people to join a terrorist group and unite them behind common ideologies and grievances. It is furthermore important to bear in mind that the sustainability and growing popularity of suicide terrorism are partially affected by the foreign policies of the Western nations leading the Â“global war on terrorism,Â” as we ll as their overall soci al, political, economic, and cultural agendas. Social constructionism Â“is a well-dev eloped model for studying the contested claims that are made Â– by victims, interest groups, social movements, professionals and politicians Â– in the construction of new soci al problem categoriesÂ” (Cohen, 2002:xxii). It
23 has been used to study the moral significat ion of a variety of cases, from Â“drunken driving, hate crime, stalking, environmen tal problemsÂ” (2002:xxiii) or psychiatric disorders to, more recently, terrori sm (Jenkins, 2003; Turk, 2004). Applying a social constructio nist approach to the study of suicide terrorism in particular can help understand the recent em ergence of terrorists as contemporary folk devils, as well as the moral campaign and pa nic that ensued. Social constructionism further makes it possible to highlight the ne gative (and usually unint ended) effects of social control policy, including the increased cohesion of terror ist groups and their polarization against the rest of society and, specifically, agents of control as represented by the entities involved in the global war on terror. The role of the mass media in publicizing attacks, triggering a Â“contagion effect,Â” and enc ouraging the ideological and commercial exploitation of suicide terrori sm is also worthy of a thorough social constructionist investigation. There can be no immediate or long-term solution to suicide terrorism if the significance of its historical and socio-cultural dimensions is persistently overlooked. Likewise, it is unsuitable to keep ignoring th e dynamics of the moral signification of the phenomenon by agents of control, the media, a nd society at large. A social constructionist approach combined with a symbolic inter actionist stance can help determine how the interpretive understanding of suicide terrorism is associat ed with a biased representation of events (and their allege d causes) that is conditione d by deliberate attempts to stigmatize ideological enemies, manipulat e public perceptions, and promote certain political interests. It shall do so by (a) fo cusing the analysis on mechanisms of moral sensitization and symbolization; (b) ev idencing how socio-political processes,
24 bureaucratic imperatives, and media structures contribute to the so cial construction of suicide terrorism; (c) highlighting how agen ts of social control and the mass media contribute to the commercial and ideological e xploitation of suicide terrorism, as well as its dramatization, politicizat ion, and escalation; and (d) improving our understanding of group solidification and polar ization processes so as to improve antiand counterterrorism policies regarding suicide bombing campaigns. It is of utmost importance that we full y comprehend how all these social entities have interacted to exploit suicide terrorism as a pressing social problem, to dramatize it by magnifying its symbolic nature and ramificat ions, and to further po larize ideologically opposed entities. In effect, they have mobili zed extremists and helped them structure more cohesive networks. Once this intricate process of moral signi fication, exploitation, amplification, and polarization is explained, we may address the incongruity of arbitrary social policy and indiscrimina te social action to assess why moral campaigns, panics and crusades have not worked to prevent suic ide terrorism. Hence, such a progressive approach shall shed light on ways to deve lop the efficient and effective prevention strategies that have yet to be soundly devised. Social Constructionism The phrase Â“social constructionÂ” has beco me a recurrent catchphrase in scholarly books and articles since Berger and Luckmann in troduced it in the sociological literature in The Social Construction of Reality (1966). Social constructionism is a postmodernist school of thought that focuses on the proce sses involved in constructing, or creating, social phenomena and social reality. Social constructionism focuses on how social rules are shaped, altered, institutionalized, and passed on traditionally from generation to
25 generation (Adler & Adler, 2003; Blumer 1969; Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994; Hacking, 1999). Defining Social Problems and Social Reality Social constructionists are interested more in institutionalor structural-level analyses of social problems than in etiolo gical approaches. They claim that specific issues, or putative conditions, become social problems as a result of their collective definitions (Blumer, 1969; Goode & Ben-Ye huda, 1994; Loseke & Best, 2003; Searle, 1995). Indeed, Â“objective conditions become soci al problems only when they are defined as or felt to be problematic Â– disturbing in some way, undesira ble, in need of solution or remedyÂ” (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994:88). Acco rding to Kitsuse and Spector (1995), social problems are a Â“process by which member s of groups or societ ies define a putative condition as a problemÂ” (1995:296). More specif ically, they can be defined as Â“the activities of individu als or groups making assertions of grievances and claims with respect to some putative conditions Â” (Spector & Kitsuse, 1977:75). The emergence of a social problem, then, is contingent on the organization of group activities with reference to defining some putative condition as a problem, and asserting the need for er adicating, ameliorating, or otherwise changing the condition. The central pr oblem for a theory of social problems, so defined, is to account for the emergence and maintenance of claim-making and responding activities (Kitsuse & Spector, 1995:296) Hence, Â“social problems do not ex ist Â‘objectivelyÂ’ . they are constructed by the human mind, called into being or constituted by the definitional pr ocessÂ” (Goode & BenYehuda, 1994:88). Â“All our knowledge of the world, in common-sense as well as in scientific thinking, involves c onstructs, i.e., a set of ab stractions, generalizations, formulations, idealizations specific to the respective le vel of thought organizationÂ”
26 (Schutz, as cited in Prus, 1996: xvii). Social constructs, ther efore, shape what could be called Â“reality by consensus.Â” As furthe r explained by Fuller and Myers (1941:320), Â“[s]ocial problems are what people think they are, and if conditions are not defined as social problems by the people involved in th em, they are not probl ems to these people, although they may be problems to outsiders.Â” Social problems therefore exist where a group of people identify something as wrong, c oncerned, and attempt to correct it. They have to not only be considered a problem, but also a Â“remediable conditionÂ” (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994:89). As Beck er (2003) emphasizes, Â“ social groups create deviance by making the rules whose infraction constitutes deviance and by applying those rules to particular people and labeling them as outsidersÂ” (2003:70). Constructionist perspectives on social problems Â“ask how and why particular social problems emerge and become the focus of demonstrations and protests, front-page news stories and television c overage, and new social politic sÂ” (Loseke & Best, 2003:ix). In addition, social constructionists Â“exa mine how public consciousness of social problems can change the world around us as well as our understanding of this worldÂ” (Ibid.). Ultimately, Â“it is the social construction or subjective interpretation of conditions that defines a social problem, not the na ture of the condition itselfÂ” (Goode & BenYehuda, 1994:91). Social construction indeed desc ribes subjective, rather than objective, reality. Subjectivity is the an tithesis of the epistemic virtue of objectivity; it implies judging something based on oneÂ’s personal opin ion, values or intu itions, not objective examination, analysis, and beliefs. As a ph ilosophical principle, subjectivism holds subjective experiences paramount: it implies th at the very existence of any object or condition depends only on peopleÂ’ s subjective awareness of it.
27 Socially constructed reality is a con tinuing, dynamic process; such reality is constantly perpetuated as a pervasive set of norms by individuals who rely on their subjective interpretation and know ledge of it. Social construc tionists essentially seek Â“to understand exactly how, and by whom, social problems are Â‘discoveredÂ’Â” (Ibid.). They focus on the significance of Â“interests, res ources, and legitimacyÂ” (1994:92) involved in the process of creating or Â“d iscoveringÂ” social problems. Members or representatives of organizat ions or groups that stand to profit from the discovery of a problem ar e likely to be motivated to do so; organizations or groups that can command resources Â– many members, access to the media or to influential po litical figures, financial resources, and so on Â– are likely to be more successful in defining a condition as a social problem; and spokespersons who are considered credible, reliable, and respectable, likewise, are more li kely to be taken seriously as the definers of a new problem. (Ibid.) Strict vs. Contextual Constructionism Social constructionism is either strict (h ard) or moderate (soft or contextual). Moderate constructionists take into consideration the Â“obj ective seriousnessÂ” (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994:94) of conditions that may or may not be re-defined as social problems. Social reality is constructed by conditions and problems that are both epistemologically objective and ontologically subjective (Searle, 1995). According to Pinker (2002), an adherent of moderate or contextual constructionism, Â“some categories really are social constructions : they exist only because people tacitly agree to act as if they existÂ” (Pinker, 2002:202). On the other ha nd, according to strict constructionists, Â“it is impossible to determine the relationshi p between objective damage and subjective concern because there is no such thing as obj ectivity in the first place Â” (Goode & BenYehuda, 1994:94). Strict cons tructionists dismiss the efforts of contextual
28 constructionists Â“to privilege a scientific vers ion of reality over a popular or public one . [as] a fallacy, a bias, an inappropriate mixing of levels of analysis, a case of Â‘ontological gerrymanderingÂ’ . [and] an improper en terpriseÂ” (Goode & Be n-Yehuda, 1994:95-96). Following a contextual constr uctionist approach, it appear s that Â“definitions of and concern about conditions are far more sociologically relevant while the objective threat that conditions present stems from a wide variety of sourcesÂ” (Goode & BenYehuda, 1994:96). This implies that Â“the objectiv e seriousness of a given conditionÂ” is not what solely Â“determines the publicÂ’s reaction to itÂ” (Ibid.). Social movement activity, legislation, a prominent ranking on the publicÂ’s list of societyÂ’s most serious probl ems, and media attention, are all generated by a variety of factors. . Public concern and action about a certain issue rise and fall in part for political, ideological, and moral reasons. There is, in other words, a Â‘po litics of social problems.Â’ . [T]he public may be stirred up as a result of the efforts of a Â‘moral entrepreneurÂ’ or moral crusader Â– an individual w ho feels that Â‘something ought to be doneÂ’ about a supposed wrongdoing, and ta kes steps to make sure that certain rules are enforced. (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994:97) Social Problems and Audiences The sociological Â“focus on deviance as subjectively problematic implies the importance of an audience that is, those individuals who di rectly or indirectly witness, hear about, and evaluate the behavior or the individuals in questionÂ” (Goode & BenYehuda, 1994:71). In order to determine if a certain type of behavior is deviant or can be labeled a social problem, one must determine who constructs the behavior as deviant or problematic, what audienceÂ’s reaction matters, and whose assessment of the behavior is of importance. Essentially, the construc tion of social problems and deviance Â“is completely meaningless without reference to a specific, relevant audienceÂ” (Ibid.). Hence, a behavior that may be interpreted as immoral or evil by an audience may not be
29 viewed as such by another a udience. Audiences therefore pl ay a crucial role in the construction of meanings and, ultimately, social problems. Public Images of Social Problems Rhetoric and random violence. BestÂ’s (1999) interdisciplinary approach to the study of social problems posits that some new cr ime problems emerge and rapidly wither out of the publicÂ’s attention, wh ereas others will proliferate an d turn into long-term social problems. Best highlights the processes through which these crimes are purposely described as new, random, and epidemic in nature, even though they truly are not, in order to both sustain private fears and infl uence public policies. Best not only focuses on the cultural framework of Â“random violenceÂ” as pertains to contemporary crime trends, but also exposes the erroneous claim that vi olence is ever more increasing. He thus analyzes how it is now conventional to Â“declare a warÂ” on social problems and institutionalize crime problems with the help of the mass media, activists, officials, and crime or policy experts. The description and interpretation of social problems are characterized by a type of rhet oric, or language, chosen specif ically to shape policies and control outcomes, which in turn promotes wi despread social distru st and may lead to moral panics. Mass media, symbolic violence, and representations of crime. As Barak (1994) points out, Â“[m]ass news representations in th e Â‘information ageÂ’ have become the most significant communication by which the averag e person comes to know the world outside his or her immediate experienceÂ” (1994:3). Ou r understanding of social concepts is influenced and determined by our moral assessm ents of these concepts, that is, how we
30 perceive them. These subjective perceptions of crime and justice therefore vary across human groups or societies. They are, in effect, influenced by the different ways in which the interplay between criminals, apprehenders, and victims are socially and ethically perceived by ordinary citizens, criminal justice policy make rs, those responsible for carrying out legal norms, criminologists, and th e press. The mass communication of these perceptions construct [sic] a cultural awareness of crime, of victim/offender encounters, and of th e administration of justice. (1994:4) The mass media are inherently Â“active and subject to changing norms and valuesÂ” and Â“also have a dialectical relationship with their object matterÂ” ( 1994:13). As a result, the interaction of the mass media and symbolic deviance is at the core of the Â“mainstream set of outlooks, assumptions and beliefs about behaviorÂ” (1994:12). It is therefore crucial to analyze the dialectic nature of the dynami c interface of mass media coverage of crime news, the social trends the media either follo w or create, the political change they may instigate, as well as the rhet orical processes involved in th e categorization or labeling of certain acts and their presumed causes. Social Problems and Moral Panics Overview of moral panics. Moral panic Â“is characterized by the feeling, held by a substantial number of the members of a given society, that evildoers pose a threat to the society and to the moral order as a conse quence of their behavior and, therefore, Â‘something should be doneÂ’ about them and their behaviorÂ” (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994:31). Five criteria define the concept of moral panic: concern, hostility, consensus, disproportionality, and volatility. The first indicator implies the need for Â“a heightened level of concern over the behavior of a certain group and the conseque nces that that behavior presumably causes
31 for the rest of societyÂ” (1994:33). Such concern should be genuine and measurable (media attention, social moveme nt organizations, new legislati on, etc.). This is different from the concept of fear, which is an expect able but not required element of the response to a tangible threat. In addition, moral panic is charact erized by Â“an increased level of hostility toward the group or category regarded as engaging in the behavior in question. Members of this category are collectively designated as the en emy, or an enemy, of respectable society; their behavior is seen as harm ful or threatening to the valu es, the interests, possibly the very existence, of the societ yÂ” (Ibid.). This entails identifying a group or segment of society as Â“ responsible for the threatÂ” (1994:34). As a re sult, Â“a division is made between Â‘usÂ’ Â– good, decent, respectable folk Â– a nd Â‘themÂ’ Â– deviants, bad guys, outsiders, criminals, the underworld. . This dichotomization includes stereotyping : generating Â‘folk devilsÂ’ or villains and folk heroes in this morality play of evil versus goodÂ” (Ibid.). There must also be Â“substantial or widespread agreement or consensus . that the threat is real, seri ous, and caused by the wrongdoing group members and their behaviorÂ” (Ibid.). People of course react differe ntly to threats. Thus, moral panic can be observed throughout society, but it ca n also be limited to sub-cu ltures, as well as local or regional levels. The fourth criterion is more implicit a nd focuses on the Â“sense on the part of many members of the society th at a more sizable number of individuals are engaged in the behavior in question than actually are, a nd the threat, danger, or damage said to be caused by the behavior is far more substantial than, is incommensurate with and in fact is Â‘above and beyond that which a realistic appr aisal could sustainÂ’ Â” (1994:36). In other
32 words, moral panic involves excessive public co ncern compared to th e objective harm or threat. Clearly establishing the objective dimensi on at stake is difficult, if not impossible, but taking it into consideration helps understand the existence of various levels or degrees of disproportionality. Finally, moral panics are inherently volat ile. Indeed, Â“they erupt fairly suddenly . and, nearly as suddenly, subside. Some moral panics may become routinized or institutionalized that is, the moral concern about the ta rget behavior results in, or remains in place in the form of, social movement organizations, legislation, enforcement practices, informal interpersonal norms or practices for punishing transgressors, after it has run its courseÂ” (1994:38-39). S till, it is also important not to neglect the Â“structural or historical antecedentsÂ” (1994:39) that moral panics may have. In sum, the concept, moral panic, does not define a concern over a given issue or putative threat about which a given c ynical observer is unsympathetic, or feels is morally or ideologically inap propriate. . The moral panic is a phenomenon Â– given its broad and sprawling nature Â– that can be located and measured in a fairly unbiased fa shion. It does not matter whether we sympathize with the concern or not. Wh at is important is that the concern locates a Â‘folk devil,Â’ is shared, is out of synch with the measurable seriousness of the condition that generate s it, and varies in intensity over time. . [I]f that concern is focu sed exclusively on moral or symbolic issues as ends in themselves, it cannot be regarded as a moral panic. (1994:41) Deviance and morality. The concept of deviance entails behaviors that are in violation of standards of conduct within a group or society, or behaviors that are interpreted as violating such standards. Deviance is determin ed by societal reaction. It is inherently relative to cult ural norms and its definition varies depending on the social context and processes at stake, as well as the actors and audiences involved. Morality, on
33 the other hand, is a system of ethical princi ples and codes of conduc t that distinguishes right from wrong and may be eith er relative or absolute. The absolute or objectively given appr oach is the traditional, conventional perspective; it assumes that we al l know Â– or should know Â– what good and bad, right and wrong, virtue and evil, are. The quality of evil or immorality resides in the very nature of an act itself; it is inherent, intrinsic, or immanent within certain forms of be havior. If an act is wrong, it is wrong now and for ever; it is evil in the abstract . . Behavior is wrong if it violates an absolute, eter nal, final law. It need not be seen or judged by external human observers to be regarded as wrong; its immorality is a simple, objective fact, ev en if it takes place in a society or group that condones it. . Moreover, the objectively given approach assumes that Â“evil causes evil,Â” or Â“t he doctrine of evil consequences,Â” that is, that consequences universally agreed to be ne gative and harmful inevitably flow from immoral practices. . [Conversely, considering] morality as relative or subjectively problematic . attempts to understand how and why behavior is regarded as evil or deviant. The focus is on the definition or understanding that members of a society hold with re spect to the acts designated as undesirable. The existence of the evil in the indwelling, objectively given, or immanent sense is not so much ne gated as put aside for a focus on how morality is defined and acted out. What is regarded as evil in one place or situation, or at one time, may be acceptable or even rewarded at others. . [D]esignating certain behaviors and indi viduals as devian t is problematic, non commonsensical, and it is the memb ers of the society who decide, not the external observer. . What is crucial is how beha vior is defined, judged, and evaluated in a particular c ontext. What counts is these varying definitions and evaluations; it is they and they alone that determine the status of an act with respect to mo rality and immorality. (1994:66-67) Morality may serve as a universal guide th at rational individuals use to control the behavior of moral agents and hold them accountable should they fail to abide by the established moral codes. This notion of universal moral cons ciousness is similar to what such philosophers as Kant or Mill focused on when analyzing how individual behavior affects other people. As Gergen (1999) stresses, Â“[b]eliefs in individual knowledge and reason are closely related to . another cult ural talisman: moral principles. In a sense, most of our actions are congenial with a moral order Â– standards of what is appropriate or
34 acceptable. And it is because we endow indi viduals with the capaci ty for knowledge and conscious reasoning that we hol d them responsible for deviations from this orderÂ” (1999:15). Moral crusades and moral entrepreneurs. Â“Societies everywhere have at times been gripped by moral panicsÂ” (Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994:51). When government officials, authorities, or segments of societ y redefine certain forms of behavior as major social problems, they are often influenced by Â“the intensity of the concern that was arousedÂ” (1994:19) and focus on deviant be havior they equate with Â“immoral wrongdoingÂ” (Ibid.) as the root cause of the pr oblem. This illustrates the notion of moral crusade, which is different from a mo ral panic (though the two are not mutually exclusive). Â“The moral crusades concept imp lies that the activists who are working to bring about change are motivated by moral, and not rational or protectionist, interestsÂ” (1994:20). Examples of moral crusades incl ude the Prohibition movement of the early twentieth century, the frenzied campaign for anti-marijuana laws of the mid-1930s, or the more recent Satanism scare (Adler & Adler, 2003; Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994). Adler and Adler (2003) stress that Â“[t]he process of constructing and applying definitions of deviance can be understood as a moral enterprise That is, it involves the constructions of moral meanings and the a ssociation of them with specific acts or conditionsÂ” (2003:133). The concept of the mora l crusade necessarily entails that of crusaders or, as they are sometimes referred t o, moral entrepreneur s (Adler & Adler, 2003; Becker, 1994; Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994; Hawkins & Tiedeman, 1975). These moral entrepreneurs launch their moral crusad es to target new or past Â“folk devils,Â” which inevitably translates into a demoniza tion process and feeds into a dichotomous
35 worldview pitting Good against Evil. Â“Once the public viewpoint has been swayed and a majority (or a vocal and powerful enough mi nority) of people have adopted a social definition, it may remain at th e level of a norm or become el evated to the status of law through a legislative effort. In some cases both situations occurÂ” (Adler & Adler, 2003:135). The Â“deviance-making enterpriseÂ” (Adler & Adler, 2003:134) is twofold. On the one hand, it involves the creation of rules (r ule-creating), otherwise there would be no deviant behavior; on the other hand, it enta ils the enforcement of these rules (ruleenforcing), which requires the ap plication of the ru les to certain groups of people. As a result, there are two types of moral entrepreneur s: the rule creators and the rule enforcers (Adler & Adler, 2003; Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994). Rule creation and rule enforcement. Rules can be created either by individuals or by groups. The latter are more commonly involved in rule-c reating, inasmuch as groups of moral entrepreneurs can more easily and efficiently Â“use their collective energy and resources to change social definitions and create norms and rulesÂ” (Adler & Adler, 2003:134). These groups of moral entrepreneurs re present interest gr oups that can be galvanized and activated into pressure groups. Rule creators ensure that our society is supplied with a constant stock of deviance and deviants by defining the behavior of others as immoral. They do this because they perceive threats in and feel fearful, distrustful, and suspicious of the behavior of these others. In so doi ng, they seek to transform private troubles into public issues and their private morality into the normative order. (Ibid.) Moral rules and legal syst ems can therefore be view ed as the products of a conscious enterprise to create them and ensure they become institutionalized and
36 guarantee the evildoers will be punished acco rdingly (Adler & Adler, 2003; Goode & Ben-Yehuda, 1994). As Adler and Adler (2003) explain, Moral entrepreneurs manufacture public morality through a multi-stage process. Their first goal is to generate broad awareness of a problem. They do this through a process of claims -making where they assert "danger messages" about a given issue. Claims-makers use these messages to create a sense that certa in conditions are problema tic and pose a present or future potential danger to society. . Because no rules exist to deal with the threatening condition, claims-mak ers construct the impression that these are necessary. In so doing, they draw on the testimonials of various Â“expertsÂ” in the field, such as sc holars, doctors, eyewitnesses, exparticipants, and others with specif ic knowledge of the situation. These testimonials are disseminated to society via the media as Â“facts.Â” (2003:134) The rhetorical processes involved in the making and dissemination of such Â“factsÂ” include using statistics to Â“show the rise in incidence of a given behavior or its correlation with another social problemÂ” (Ibi d.). Furthermore, Â“dramatic case examples can paint a picture of horror in the publicÂ’s mind, inspiring fe ar and loathingÂ” and various issues can be lumped together to purposel y create Â“a behavioral pattern portrayed as dangerousÂ” (Ibid.). Rhetoric further Â“requires th at each side seek the (usually competing) Â‘moral high groundÂ’ in their assertions a nd attacks on each other, disavowing special interests and pursuing only th e purest public goodÂ” (Ibid.). Moral entrepreneurs additionally strive to beget a moral conversion by persuading others of the righteousness of their stance on the given issue or issues. Â“They have to convert neutral parties and previous opponents into supporting partisans. Their successful conversion of others further legitimates thei r own beliefs. To effect a moral conversion, rule creators must compete for space in th e Â“public arena,Â” often a limited resourceÂ” (Ibid.).
37 Moral entrepreneurs must draw on el ements of drama, novelty, politics, and deep mythic themes of the culture to gain the visibility they need. They must also enlist the support of sponsors (opinion leaders who need not have expert knowledge on any part icular subject, but are liked and respected) to provide them with pub lic endorsements. . At times the efforts of moral entrepreneurs are so successful that they create a Â“moral panic.Â” A threat to society is de picted, and concerned individuals promoting the problem, reacting legislat ors, and sensationalist news media whip the public into a Â“feeding frenzy.Â” Moral panics . tend to develop a life of their own, often moving in exaggerated propulsion beyond their original impetus. (2003:135) Once the rules are created, th ey need to be enforced. Rule enforcers typically follow a subjective, selective pattern when applying moral rules and social norms. Indeed, they take advantage of the fact that Â“[v]arious individuals or groups have greater or lesser power to resist the enforcem ent of rules against them due to their socioeconomic, racial, religious, gender political, or other statusÂ” (Ibid.). Differential social power. Adler and Adler (2003) st ress that Â“[s]pecific behavioral acts are not the only things that can be constructe d as deviant; this definition can also be applied to a soci al status or lifestyle. When entire groups of people become relegated to a deviant status through their soci al condition (especially if it is ascribed through birth rather than voluntarily achieve d), we see the force of inequality and differential social power in operationÂ” (2003:136). As evidenced by the social construction perspective and conflict theory alike, it can be ar gued that Â“those who control the resources in society (politics, social status, gende r, wealth, religious beliefs, mobilization of the masses) have the ab ility to dominate, both materially and ideologically, over the subordinate groupsÂ” (Ibi d.). This implies that rules, laws, or norms, as well as their application and enfor cement, are the result of Â“political action by moral entrepreneurial interest groups that are connected to so ciety's power baseÂ” (Ibid.).
38 One way to do this is to pass and en force norms and rules that define othersÂ’ behavior as deviant. Thus the relative deviance of [certain putative] conditions . can be s een to reflect the application of differential social power in our soci ety. Individuals in these groups may find themselves discriminated against or blocked from the mainstream of society by virtue of this basic feature of their existence, unrelated to any particular situation or act. This application of th e deviant label emphatically illustrates the role of power in the deviance-defining enterprise, as those positioned closer to the center of society, holding the greater social, economic, political, an d moral resources, can turn the force of the deviant stigma onto others less fortunately placed. In so doing they use the definition of deviance to rein force their own favored position. This politicization of deviance and the power associated with its use serve to remind us that deviance is not a ca tegory inhabited only by those on the marginal outskirts of society: the exot ics, erotics, and neurotics. Instead, any group can be pushed into this ca tegory by the exercise of another groupÂ’s greater power. (Ibid.) Critique of Social Constructionism Detractors of the social constructionist perspective posit that the contributions of the scientific inquiry are enough to discred it any claim made by th e constructionists (or the postmodernists, for that matter). Ma ny denounce what they call the Â“social construction of social constructionism,Â” while others criticize the pa radigm because they view it as a form of solipsism or an il lustration of dogmatic narrow-mindedness (Best, 1995; Gergen, 1999). Yet others contend that Â“constructionists either make assumptions about objective conditions or worse, believe they know when objective conditions have changed or not. If so, they are unable to fulfill the constructionist imperative which requires information on the beliefs of the pe ople involved in the social problem process rather than the beliefs of so ciologistsÂ” (Best, 1995:341). This concern was in fact strong enough amongst constructionist scholars to prompt the abovementioned rift between Â“strict social constructioni sts, those who only study the claims-making process, and
39 contextual constructionists, who take in to account what is known about objective conditionsÂ” (Ibid.). Objectivists further argue th at the peculiar approach a dopted by constructionists is intrinsically flawed, inasmuch as their Â“focus on claims-making ignores a far more important subject: the harmful social conditi ons which are the Â‘real Â’ social problemsÂ” (1995:343). Both perspectives are radically different and, indeed, their relative value depends on exactly what one is trying to understand. To the objectivistsÂ’ criticism corresponds a dual social constr uctionist rejoinder: Â“(1) there is nothing wrong with studying social conditions, but decades of obj ective research on social conditions have failed to lay a foundation for general theories of social problems; and (2) it is important to remember that we only recognize social condi tions as Â‘reallyÂ’ harmful because someone made persuasive claims to that effectÂ” (Ibid.). Thus, a social constructionist approach to the study and prevention of suicide terrorism appears to be a more fertile one than what has been favored thus far by scholars, practitioners and policymakers al ike. Indeed, it shall shed light on the mechanisms involved in the construction of meaning, the misinterpretation of sociocultural factors and fundament al belief systems, and th e lack of understanding or knowledge concerning the phenomen on of suicide terrorism. Fu rthermore, in order to explicitly focus on the interaction of the soci al entities involved in the interpretive process, it appears useful to borrow from a complementary perspective that specifically examines the social construction of subj ective meanings: symbolic interactionism.
40 Symbolic Interactionism Overview and Underlying Assumptions Symbolic interactionism is a sociological perspective that borrows theoretically from both cultural studies and humanistic tr adition. It focuses on how individuals and groups interact and, more specifically, how pers onal identity (the se lf) is crea ted through interaction with others. Of particular interest is the re lationship between individual action and group pressures. The symbolic interactio nist perspective posits that subjective meanings are socially constructed and that these subjective meanings interrelate with objective actions (Charon, 2004; Farberman & Perinbanayagam, 1985; Plummer, 1991a, 1991b; Prus, 1996; Stryker, 1980). Precursors of the sociological traditio n of symbolic interaction include the Scottish moralists (common sense school of moral philosophy), especially Adam Smith, who Â“propounded the symbolic-interactionist as sumptions that society is necessarily antecedent to the individual, self and mind de velop through interaction with others, selfcontrol derives from social control, and pe ople are actors as well as reactorsÂ” (Shott, 1976:39). Heralds of the symbolic interac tion perspective also include American Pragmatists, such as George Herbert Mead, William James, and John Dewey. It was fully developed by sociologists of the Chicago School, mainly Herbert Blumer, Robert E. Parke, and Everett C. Hughes (Blumer, 1969; Becker & McCall, 1990; Charon, 2004; Farberman & Perinbanayagam, 1985; Plum mer, 1991a, 1991b; Prus, 1996; Stryker, 1980). Blumer (1969) described sy mbolic interactionism as Â“a down-to-earth approach to the scientific study of human group life and hum an conductÂ” that Â“lodges its problems in
41 [the] natural world, conducts its studies in it and derives its interp retations from such naturalistic studi esÂ” (1969:47). Symbols play a significant role for hu man actors. Indeed, Â“[h]umans name, remember, categorize, perceive, think, delib erate, problem solve, transcend space and time, transcend themselves, create abstractions, create new ideas, and direct themselves Â– all through the symbolÂ” (Charon, 2004:63-64). Symbolic interactionism is founded upon three fundamental assertions: The first premise is that human beings act toward things on the basis of the meanings that the things have for them . . The second premise is that the meaning of such things is derived from, or arises out of, the social interaction that one has with oneÂ’s fellows. The third premise is that these meanings are handled in, and modifi ed through, an interpretive process used by the person in dealing with th e things he encounters. (Blumer, 1969:2) Symbolic interactionism thus considers meaning not as a product of Â“the intrinsic makeup of the thing that has meaning,Â” but Â“as aris ing in the process of interaction between peopleÂ” (1969:4). The use of meanings by soci al actors implies a necessary Â“process of interpretationÂ” (1969:5) that is determined by self-interaction and the way meanings are handled by the actors. Interpretation is more th an the mere use of previously integrated meanings. Instead, Blumer argues, interpretati on is an active pro cess of formulation, reconsideration, and revision. The Interpretive Tradition Interpretivist social science has devel oped Â“concurrently with a critique of positivist social scienceÂ” (Prus, 1996:3). Un like the positivist (structuralist) approach, which studies human behavior in an obj ective fashion, the inte rpretive approach considers Â“human group life as actively const ituted by people in inte raction with othersÂ”
42 (1996:9). The interpretive trad ition is therefore based upon an interactionist and hermeneutic analysis of human lived experience. Symbolic interaction and the st udy of human lived experience. The interactionist/interpretive perspective assume s, explicitly or not, that human group life is intersubjective, multi-perspectival, reflective, activity-based, negotiable, relational, and processual (Prus, 1996). Indeed, Â“i nterpretivists obs erve that the study of human behavior is the study of human lived experience and that human experience is rooted in peopleÂ’s meanings, interpretations, activities, and interactions Â” (1996:9). Intersubjectivity and reflective interchange thus emerge as th e core elements of human essence. As further explained below, the Ch icago School (or Blumerian School) of symbolic interactionism puts strong emphasis on Â“the thoroughly intersubjective nature of community life,Â” while it Â“d raws attention to the active dimensions (human struggles and enterprise) of the accomplishmen t of intersubjectivityÂ” (1996:22). Hermeneutics and interpretivists. Hermeneutics is the study of the methodological principles of interpretation. The word initia lly described the interp retive study of Greek classics and religious texts. As such, hermeneutics Â“reflects an awareness that recorded statements are inevitably subject to interpre tationÂ” (Prus, 1996:34). The development of the interpretive tradition as it relates to social theory cam e about in the late 1800s with the works of German theorist Wilhelm Dilthey. Other major German scholars who have contributed to the growth of the interpre tive framework include Georg Simmel, Max Weber, and Wilhelm Wundt. American Pragmatists, mainly Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead, further played a signifi cant part in the emergence of the Chicago
43 School of symbolic interaction and strongly in fluenced the works of its founder, Herbert Blumer. Wilhelm Dilthey, who many regard as Â“t he founder of contemporary interpretive social scienceÂ” (1996:35), approached huma n science from a purely hermeneutical viewpoint. Indeed, Â“it was Dilthey who most explicitly extended the hermeneutic or interpretive insight or Verstehen (interpretive underst anding) beyond textual interpretations to all other in stances of human behaviorÂ” (Ib id.). He laid strong emphasis on the intersubjectivity that is inherent in human behavior and interchange. He further understood human life or gr oup life as Â“built on a sharedness of understandings Â” (Ibid.). According to Dilthey, interpretation Â“depends pivotally on making sense of the other by reference to the community context in which the actions of the other are embeddedÂ” (Ibid.). Georg Simmel considered that society was essentially defined by the interaction that took place among and between individua ls. Simmel, Â“best known for his pronounced emphasis on sociology as the study of the forms of human associationÂ” (1996:39), viewed human existence, or group life, as an ense mble of continuous social processes. Human interaction, thus, occurs through such ongoi ng processes as Â“conf lict, cooperation, compromise, mediation, dominati on and subordinationÂ” (Ibid.). Max Weber is often, though erroneously, credited for inventing the concept of Verstehen (interpretive unde rstanding) and contributi ng to the advancement of ethnography. WeberÂ’s synthetic social theory merely built upon DiltheyÂ’s hermeneutical contributions on Verstehen, which were in effect more thorough and coherent than WeberÂ’s. Â“Within WeberÂ’s contextual analysis . verstehen tends to be largely implicit
44 and group-oriented, as opposed to denoting an attentiveness to the viewpoints of particular people and to the ways in which they go about accomplishing their activities on a Â‘here and nowÂ’ basisÂ” (1996:42). Weber was fu rther influenced by other German social scientists like Wilhelm Windelband and Heinrich Rickert, whose works actually neglected the quinte ssential intersubjec tive nature of huma n interaction. Â“Weber generated an intellectual stance in which th e hermeneutic thrust was largely dismissed from a more active consideration in soci al researchÂ” (1996:41). Weber ultimately attempted to bring together the interpretive and positivist paradigms, but his mostly empirically-driven efforts remained futile and his outlook on human group life, in the end, appears more obscure than enlightening. Indeed, Weber sought to develop Â“objective,Â” causal statements about group life while simultaneously claiming an in tellectual primacy in the foundations of Â“subjective experience.Â” At the same time, Weber appears intent on using modes of historical-cultural-le galistic analysis to formulate more generic statements on the religious, political, and economic orderings of human societies. In particular, Webe r seemed concerned with stipulating the historical and material conditions that fostered part icular world views and the ways in which these collec tively establishe d beliefs or group mind-sets might find expression in the forms of association and practices characterizing particular societies. (Ibid.) Wilhelm WundtÂ’s major contribution to th e interpretive paradigm came in the form of Volkerpsychologie or folk psychology (sometimes also referred to as psychical anthropology), which provided Â“a significant source of stimulation for a number of scholars working in the interpretive and (e mergent) ethnographic traditionsÂ” (1996:45). The basic premise of folk psychology is that human behavior is conditioned by culture and language. Primitive culture is at the core of this approach, rather than western cultural concepts and id eals. Wundt thus focused his inte rpretive analyses of social
45 thought and interaction on primitive or elementary modes of human group life, specifically communal spirit and it s relation to human interchange ( Gemeinschaftpsychologie ). Pragmatists equally played a key part in the development of the interpretive and interactionist traditions (Farberman, 1985; Lewis, 1976; Prus, 1996). The works of Charles S. Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and George H. Mead were highly influential in the emergence of the philo sophical movement that became known as American Pragmatism. The movement was started by Peirce and popularized by James (James and Mead were, incidentally, Wundt Â’s students). The basic premises of Pragmatism are that the meaning of concepts lies in their practical bearings, that the purpose of thought is to direct action, and th at truth ought to be evaluated depending on the practical outcomes of belief. Â“The pragma tistsÂ’ emphases were somewhat diverse, but they generally opposed to Â‘rationalistÂ’ or Â‘d eterministÂ’ (i.e., positivist) philosophy and wanted to develop conceptualizations of huma n behavior that attend ed to the actualities and practices of peopleÂ” (Prus, 1996:46). George H. MeadÂ’s contribution to the so ciology of knowledge, in particular, is remarkable for it encompasses three fundament al areas of study: philosophy, history, and social psychology (Farberman, 1985; Fine & Kleinmann, 1968; Fisher & Strauss, 1979a, 1979b; McKinney, 1991; Maines, Sugrue, & Ka tovich, 1983; Miller, 1973; Ropers, 1973). Â“MeadÂ’s approach to behavior may be characterized by such generally descriptive terms as pragmatic, empirical, bio-social be havioristic, naturalis tic, voluntaristic, instrumental, and functionalÂ” (McKinney, 1991:112). Mead focuse d on social acts as Â“the unit of existenceÂ” (Miller, 1973:294), the sour ce of Â“all socio-cultural behavior,Â”
46 analyzing Â“self-awareness, th inking, purposive behavior, an d moral discriminationÂ” in order to evidence Â“that mind and self are soci al emergents, and that language constituted the mechanism for that emergenceÂ” (McK inney, 1991:113). Hence, human action was Â“the key to the Meadian model of man and to the human construction of meaning and knowledgeÂ” (Franks, 1985:39). Ultimately, M eadÂ’s Â“extraction of mind, self, thinking, and meaning from the context of the social act via the delineation of such mechanisms as role-taking, the generalized ot her, symbolization, and att itude systems, constitutes an expansion of the frame of reference of the sociology of knowledgeÂ” (McKinney, 1991:118). The Chicago School of interactionism: Blum erian contributions to the interpretive tradition. Herbert Blumer has been presented by several scholars as Â“the single most important social theorist of the twentieth centuryÂ” (Prus, 1996:75). His critical work on human lived experience and soci al interaction drew together the interpretive framework and the ethnographic tradition. Blumer, a stud ent of George Herbert Mead, unequivocally and methodically expanded upon the works of Dilthey, Simmel, and the American Pragmatists (Becker, 1988; Prus, 1996; Shi butani, 1988). He acknowledged early on that human behavior was intrinsically complex, Â“r eflective, interactive, emergentÂ” (Prus, 1996:68). Relying on MeadÂ’s analysis of social behaviorism and drawing from DiltheyÂ’s hermeneutical approach, Blumer Â“explicitly established the vital link of the interpretive tradition with ethnographic research Â” and harshly criticized the Â“core features of positivist social scienceÂ” (1996:69). BlumerÂ’s work on human interchange and intersubjectivity, similarly to MeadÂ’s, also focused on human group life as the product of Â“the ongoing production of actionÂ” (1996:71) and, as such, further Â“synthesized and
47 developed the theoretical and methodological si gnificance of MeadÂ’s ideas for the social sciencesÂ” (1996:70). BlumerÂ’s pivotal role in the development of social science and interpretivism is threefold: First, building on the works of George Herbert Mead, Blumer develops a clearer, more coherent and sociologi cally focused statement pertaining to the implications of the interpretive paradigm for the study of human lived experience than Dilthey, Cooley, or Mead had been able to generate. Furthermore, by emphasizing CooleyÂ’s notion of sympathetic introspection, Blumer helps establish the relevance of the interpretive approach for the ongoing study of human group life. Second, Blumer challenges the prevailing positivist (quantitative) traditions that dominate the social sciences. . Blumer forcef ully and clearly lays bare the central weaknesses of mainstream social scie nce. . Third, Blumer provides a conceptual framework which not only theoretically undergirds ethnographic research . in the social sciences, but which also encourages the development of generic or transsituational social processes. (1996:74-75) Critique of Symbolic Interactionism Scholars within the symbolic interactionist paradigm have voi ced their criticism of the theoretical and practical framew orks involved. Besides its potential for methodological problems and operationalizati on issues, symbolic interactionism is viewed as overemphasizing self-consciousne ss, having Â“an obsession with meaningÂ” and promoting Â“a metaphysic of meaningÂ” (Mel tzer, Petras, Reynolds, 1975:84-85). As a result, some fear the Â“danger that a fetish will be made out of everyda y life, especially if the perspective comes to give a totally relativistic account of human interactionÂ” (1975:85). Moreover, some inte ractionists deplore the Â“unw arranted demotion of the psychological,Â” which may have Â“robbed human needs, motives, intentions, and aspirations of their empirical and analytical reality by treating them as mere derivations and/or expressions of socially defined cat egoriesÂ” (1975:84). Overall, the major Â“in-
48 houseÂ” criticism is aimed at the apparent inability of symbolic interactionism Â“to come to grips with either human emotions or the unconsciousÂ” (1975:85). Scholars outside the realm of symbolic interaction have also criticized the approach. Positivists have been the most vocal opponents thus far. As explained by Prus (1996), however, the positivist/structuralist cri tique of symbolic interactionism as Â“a subjective social science or a microlevel sociologyÂ” (1996:22) is the result of a misinformed interpretation of in teractionist tenets. In fact, symbolic interaction is intersubjective to the core and envisions the development of language or ongoing symbolic interchanges as fundamental to the human essence (a nd the human struggle for existence). People are seen to develop (multiple) worldviews or definitions of reality as they interact with one another and attempt to incorporate particular objects of their awareness into their activities. Notions of community, self, action, reflectivity, symbolic realitie s, human intercha nge, and collective behavior are fundamental to inter actionism, as are the processes of conflict, cooperation, and compromise Likewise, while interactionism builds on situated definitions and inte rchanges, and insists on the pursuit of research g rounded rigorously in human lived experience and the ongoing production of action, it is quite able to deal with more molar matters such as fashion, the media, social problems, industrialization, economic development, law and policy formation, and other political processes. (Ibid.) As for concerns regarding the potenti al methodological shortcomings of a theoretical perspective relying heavily (if not exclusively) on a qualitative approach, some have counter-argued that ethnographic inquiry is as scie ntific as more quantitative and, in fact, likely more reliable than positivist methods to accurately and soundly examine human behavior and the interaction of individuals with their environment. Indeed, the methodology (open-ended inquiry participant-observation, and observation) of ethnographic research may seem less rigorous or scientific than some other approaches in the soci al sciences, especially to those who
49 have been encouraged to envision positivist structuralism and quantification as synonym ous with scientific progress. However, this inference is highly inaccurate. Ethno graphic inquiry is a singularly powerful technique for studying the ways in which human behavior takes its shape. (Ibid.) Herbert Blumer (1956) wrote, Â“We can, and I think must, look upon human life as chiefly a vast interpretative process in which people, singly and collectively, guide themselves by defining the objects, events, and situations which they encounter. . Any scheme designed to analyze human group life in its general characte r has to fit this process of interpretationÂ” (1956:686). True to the interpretivist theo retical tradition, the purpose of this inquiry is to apply the symbo lic interactionist approach to the study of suicide terrorism in order to expose it as a socially constructed phenomenon. Thus, we may focus on mechanisms of moral significa tion, sensitization, a nd symbolization, and demonstrate their effects on extremist groups th at favor suicide terrorism to fight their real or perceived enemies. Such mechanisms may in turn emphasi ze processes of group solidification and polar ization, which are very important to account for and understand if we want to devise efficient and effective pr evention measures addressing the fundamental socio-cultural aspects of suicide terrorism. Â“All reality, as meaningful reality, is socially constructe dÂ” (Crotty, 1998:54). Thus, suicide terrorism is a reality, a real i ssue indeed Â– no one shal l deny that Â–, but it must be regarded essentially as a socially constructed one. This does not mean that suicide terrorism is a mere figment of the social scientistÂ’s imagination or purely the byproduct of socio-political rhetor ic. It is a genuine social problem, with tangible causes and dramatic real-life outcomes. Nonetheless, our interpretation of bombings as suicide terrorism is first and foremost a social construction. As Shadish (1995b) emphasizes,
50 social constructionism Â“refers to construc ting knowledge about re ality, not constructing reality itselfÂ” (1995b:67). It is therefore our knowledge, as well as the very cognitive mechanisms which influence our understanding of suicide terrorism that are at the core of this social constructionist inquiry into the phenomenon and related meaning-making processes. A theoretical framework allowing for the analysis of Â“how people in particular contexts . individually and collectively construct meaning and knowledgeÂ” (Patton, 2001:78) therefore appears to be a sine qua non Summary of Literature and Purpose of Study A long-standing modus operandi of asymmetr ic warfare, suicide bombings are an extremely violent and adaptive form of oppositio nal terrorism that has been increasingly witnessed around the world. The contemporary wave of suicide bombings, which started in the early 1980s in Lebanon and grew stronge r mostly in Israel and Sri Lanka over the following two decades, has now reached Western Europe and the United States. Since the suicide attacks of September 2001 in the Un ited States, a plethora of articles about suicide terrorism have appeared in a variety of academic j ournals and more mainstream books. The majority of these pieces focus on the contemporary development of suicide bombings as the ultimate terrorist act and the legitimization of such a violent practice as a tool of war. They also highlight Islamic fundamentalism as the root cause of suicide terrorism, despite the fact th at non-Muslim religious groups and even secular groups have resorted to suicide terrorism, and emphasi ze the psychological or psychopathological features of typical suicide bombers. Thus the available literature typically focuses on the Â“who, when, and whereÂ” and the recent globalization of suicide terrorism instead of the Â“why and howÂ” of suicide
51 bombings. As a result, it fails to provide a thorough, methodical an alysis and a critical understanding of the dynamics and patterns involv ed. It ignores that suicide terrorism is not a homogenous phenomenon but a fundamentally adaptive, resilient and complex one. The literature on suicide terrorism is further characterized by a lack of applied focus: it generally relies on an arbitr ary extension of te rrorism research findings to suicide terrorism without further analys is or inquiry into the distin ctive features of the latter. Finally, much like the terrorism literature in general, scholarly and mainstream articles or books on suicide terrorism rely almost entirely on secondary data analysis and literature integration. Without primary data and meticulou s case studies, such literature contributes little to no original information to our understanding of the phenomenon. The popular imagery and stereotypes created and supported by government officials and the mass media, as well as many academics, do not provide an accurate representation of suicide terrorism. This distinct ive study shall advance our comprehension of the phenomenon. The latter, mu ch like terrorism in general, is a sociopolitical concept that is unde rstood differently from one soci ety to another and from one historical or political era to the next. Suicide terrorism theref ore appears to be the product of the interaction of social and political mechanisms, bureaucratic demands, and mass media organizations. Â“Qualitative research approaches have traditionally been favored when the main research objective is to improve our unders tanding of a phenome non, especially when this phenomenon is complex and deeply embe dded in its contextÂ” (Audet & dÂ’Amboise, 2001). Hence this study focuses on suicide terror ism from a qualitative angle, the most promising approach to analyz ing how individuals construe their experience (i.e., human
52 lived experience) and how their understanding in turn affects or dete rmines their way of life. From a theoretical standpoint, the pr esent analysis is based on social constructionism and a complementary symbolic interactionist approach. Social constructionism Â“is a well-developed model for studying the contested claims that are made Â– by victims, interest groups, social m ovements, professionals and politicians Â– in the construction of new social problem cat egoriesÂ” (Cohen, 2002:xxii) Applying a social constructionist approach to the study of su icide terrorism in particular can help understand the recent emergence of terrorists as contemporary folk devils, as well as the moral crusade and moral panic that ensue d. Social constructioni sm further makes it possible to highlight the negative (and usua lly unintended) effects of social control policy, including the increased cohesion of terrorist groups an d their polarization against the rest of society and, specifically, agents of control as repr esented by the entities involved in the global war on terror. The role of the mass media in publicizing attacks, triggering a Â“contagion effect,Â” and enc ouraging the ideological and commercial exploitation of suicide terrorism is also worthy of a thorough soci al constructionist investigation. Socially construc ted reality is a continuing, dy namic process; such reality is constantly perpetuated as a pervasive se t of norms by individuals who rely on their subjective interpretation and knowledge of it. Constructionist perspectives on social problems Â“ask how and why particular social problems emerge and become the focus of demonstrations and protests, front-page news stories and televisi on coverage, and new social politicsÂ” (Loseke & Best, 2003:ix). So cial problems are defined by the way certain acts or conditions situations are socially co nstructed or subjectively interpreted, not by
53 the very nature of these acts or conditions. Th e construction and appli cation of definitions of deviance is a moral enterprise that entails the construction of mo ral meanings and their connection to certain acts or conditions. In a noteworthy study entitled Images of Terror: What We Can And CanÂ’t Know About Terrorism Philip Jenkins (2003) used a social constructionist approach to provide a critical analysis of mass media represen tations of terrorism. Jenkins argues that academics, journalists, and the general public na ively trust the interpre tations of terrorism provided by governments and offici al agencies. He further cl aims that our understanding of terrorism is the product of the interacti on of bureaucratic agencies, private experts, scholars, and the mass media. Thus, he cont ends, Â“bureaucratic interests create and sustain the image presented in the mass me dia and popular cultur eÂ” (2003:189) and the imagery and stereotypes we are exposed to do not reflect social reality. To conduct his research on mass media images of terrorism, Jenkins used open-source data drawn from the extant scholarly and mainstream literat ure on terrorism. He relied on a variety of documents such as articles, books, official st atistics, news media reports, as well as entertainment media sources (domestic and foreig n feature films) to gather the essence of Â“terrorism pop cultureÂ” and st udy how socio-political processe s are involved in the social construction of terrorism, terrorist moveme nts, groups, and actions. Although the overall analysis provides valuable insight into the role of the media and the interaction between all the social actors involved in the definiti on and interpretation processes, Jenkins relied exclusively on available data Â– sometimes prosaically and, in fact, occasionally inaccurately Â– and derived Â“frequent overgen eralizationsÂ” (Ross, 2004) that undermined the validity of an otherwise inspirational critique of terro rism research and policies.
54 This study provides a narrower, more methodical application of JenkinsÂ’ paradigm to the social construction of suicid e terrorism. Based on his approach, the main research question is: How are socio-political processes, bureaucra tic imperatives, and media structures involved in the social cons truction of suicide terr orism? A subset of three research questions was derived: (a) How is suicide terrorism a political weapon? (b) How is suicide terrorism used as a communication tool? (c) How is suicide terrorism a politicized issue that fits in to the moral panic framework? In order to remedy the shortcomings of a study relying solely upon secondary data analysis, the research project was designed as a multi-case study in order to provide a comprehensive description and a holistic unde rstanding of suicide terrorism. This multisite study was designed as an instrumental collective case study. It was collective as it consisted of the analysis of multiple cases (s ites or groups) and instrumental inasmuch as it focused on a specific issue Â– suicide terr orism Â– instead of each individual case. Borrowing from JenkinsÂ’ basic methodology Â– albeit with a much larger and more diverse sample Â–, the present study relies on the use of open-source documents for a review and content analysis of available data sources re garding suicide terrorism. However, in an effort to significantly improve on JenkinsÂ’ design, over three dozen interviews conducted with key informants in various countries that have dealt with suicide bombings over the last two-and-a-ha lf decades were also used. The goal of collecting and analyzin g primary data was to contri bute in-depth and innovative information to our empirical knowledge of the phenomenon. Furthermore, to complement JenkinsÂ’ social constructionist stance, an interactionist/interpretive perspective was chosen insofar as it focuses specifically on how
55 individuals and groups interact. The symbolic interactionist perspective posits that subjective meanings are socially construc ted and that these subjective meanings interrelate with objective actions. Hence m eanings arise through interaction between people and the use of these meanings by social ac tors implies interpretation, i.e., an active process of formulation, reconsideration, a nd revision. The interactionist/interpretive perspective assumes that human group life is intersubjective and refl ective: Â“the study of human behavior is the study of human lived experience and that human experience is rooted in peopleÂ’s meanings, interpretations, activities, and interac tionsÂ” (Prus, 1996:9). Qualitative inquiry, social c onstructionism, and symbolic interactionism allow for more fruitful approaches to study such a multifaceted social phenomenon as suicide terrorism, which not only comprises a substa ntial human element, but also encompasses political, social, historical, and psychological dimensions. Suicide terrorism cannot be combated or prevented if the significance of its historical and socio-cultural dimensions is persistently overlooked. Like wise, the dynamics of the moral signification of the phenomenon by agents of control, the media, and society at larg e cannot be ignored. A social constructionist approach combined with a symbolic interactionist stance within the qualitative framework of a multi-site study can help determine how the interpretive understanding of suicide terroris m is associated with a bias ed representation of events (and their alleged causes) conditioned by delib erate attempts to stigmatize ideological enemies, manipulate public pe rceptions, and promote certain political interests. The present multi-case study shall do so by (a) focu sing the analysis on mechanisms of moral sensitization and symbolization; (b) ev idencing how socio-political processes, bureaucratic imperatives, and media structures contribute to the so cial construction of
56 suicide terrorism; (c) highlighting how agen ts of social control and the mass media contribute to the commercial and ideological e xploitation of suicide terrorism, as well as its dramatization, politicizat ion, and escalation; and (d) improving our understanding of group solidification and polar ization processes so as to improve antiand counterterrorism policies regarding suicide bombing campaigns.
57 Chapter Three Methodology Multi-Case Study Â“Case study research holds a long, disti nguished history across many disciplinesÂ” (Creswell, 1997:62). A case study provides an in-depth description and understanding of one or more events, settings, groups, or other bounded systems. Audet and dÂ’Amboise (2001) describe the multi-site or multi-case study as an Â“adaptive and innovativeÂ” qualitative research approach Â“designed to gain an in-depth knowledge of an organizational phenomenon.Â” This further Â“comb ines several approa ches to case study research, borrowing from the positivist tradition, the interpretative approach and the qualitative research corpusÂ” and Â“involves th e observation and analys is of several sites using . cross-case comparisons and explan ation building techniques to analyze data.Â” By examining more than one case, researchers have the opportunity not to adulterate their global approach, but rather to compare cases and discern possible themes or patterns across cases, which in turn adds depth to the study and helps corroborate or solidify its findings and implications. The type of analysis of these data can be a holistic analysis of the entire case or an embedded analysis of a specific aspect of the case. . Through this data collection, a detailed description of the case emerges, as do an analysis of themes or issues and an interpretation or assertions about the case by the researcher. . This analysis is rich in the context of the case or setting in which the case presents itself. . When multiple cases are chosen, a typical format is to first provide a detailed description of each case and themes within the case, called a within-case analysis followed
58 by a thematic analysis across the cases, called a cross-case analysis as well as assertions or an interpretatio n of the meaning of the case. In the final interpretive phase, the researcher reports . the Â‘lessons learnedÂ’ from the case. (Creswell, 1997:63) In keeping with such rationale for the use of multi-case studies in qualitative research, and given the purpose of this research, the study was designed as an instrumental collective case study It is collective as it consists of the analysis of multiple cases (sites or groups). It is instrumental (as opposed to intrinsic) inasmuch as it focuses Â“on a specific issue rather than on the case it self . [and] the case becomes a vehicle to better understand the issueÂ” (Stake, 1995). In case studies, the unit of analysis Â“is typi cally a system of action rather than an individual or group of indivi dualsÂ” (Tellis, 1997). As such, Â“[c]ase studies tend to be selective, focusing on one or tw o issues that are fundamental to understanding the system being examinedÂ” (Ibid.). In this particular st udy, suicide terrorism is the issue at stake, not specific suicide te rror attacks or groups using suicid e bombings. What the analysis focuses on is the tactic and st rategy of suicide bombings, not terrorism as an ideology. The purpose of such analysis is to shed light on the one-sided interpretations and social construction of suicide bombings. Socio-politic al biases and ideologi cal constructions are in fact the common theme highlighted in all the cases studied, a pattern which emerged early on during the data collecti on and analysis phases. In order to bring such theme to light, a cross-case analysis was necessary, whereby Â“themes across casesÂ” were examined Â“to discern themes that are co mmon to all casesÂ” (Ibid.). Finally, the context of each case was broadly conceptualized in orde r for each setting to include wide-ranging social, political, historical, and psyc hological issues (see Creswell, 1997).
59 The information gathered for the present study may be summarized in a matrix highlighting the research questi ons, the sites selection process, the data sources, and the themes inherent in the analysis of the social construction of suicide terrorism (Figure 1). Main Research Question How are socio-political processes, bureaucratic imperatives, and media structures involved in the social construction of suicide terrorism? Secondary Research Questions (a) How is suicide terrorism a political weapon? (b) How is suicide terrorism used as a communication tool? (c) How is suicide terrorism a politicized issue that fits into the moral panic framework? Cases Selected Afghanistan France Iraq Israel Kashmir Lebanon Russia Sri Lanka Turkey United Kingdom United States Sources of Evidence Primary Data: Interviews Secondary Data: Open-Source Documents Themes and Concepts Occurrence / Episodic Threats Signification / Media Coverage Galvanization of Public Interest and PolicymakersÂ’ Attention Claims-Making Politics of Fear: Threat Inflation, Demonization (Folk Devils), Radical/Moralizing Rhetoric Construction of Collective Insecurity Moral Panics and Moral Crusades Social Control Mechanisms / Rule Creation and Enforcement Construction of Social Problem (Suicide Terrorism) and Exacerbation of Issue Figure 1: Social Construction of Suicide Terror ism: Multi-Case Study Data Matrix
60 Overview of Research Design Herbert Blumer recommended approaches to the study of human behavior and lived experience that have now Â“become hi ghly valued and widely used qualitative methodsÂ” (Patton, 2001:112). He viewed Â“quali tative inquiry as the only real way of understanding how people perceive, understand, and interpret the world. Only through close contact and direct interaction with pe ople in open-minded, na turalistic inquiry and inductive analysis could the symbolic inte ractionist come to understand the symbolic world of the people being studiedÂ” (Ibid.). Qualitativ e research focuses on how individuals construe their experience (i.e., human lived experience) and how their understanding in turn affects or determines their way of life. As emphasized by Audet and dÂ’Amboise (2001), Â“qualitative research approaches have traditionally been favored when the main research objective is to improve our understanding of a phenomenon, especially when this phenomenon is complex and deeply embedded in its context. . Qualitative research has now grown into a wide domain, having evolved much beyond its original scope of qualitative data collection.Â” Furthermore, Strauss and Corbin (1990) claim that qualitative methods can be used to better understand any phenomenon about which little is yet known. They can also be used to gain new perspe ctives on things about which much is already known, or to gain more in-dep th information that may be difficult to convey quantitatively. Thus, quali tative methods are appropriate in situations where one needs to first identify the variables that might later be tested quantitatively, or where the researcher has determined that quantitative measures cannot adequately describe or interpret a situation. (Hoepfl, 1997) This multi-case study of suicide bombings draws upon methods used consistently in previous examinations of th e social construction of crime (secondary data analysis). It also broadens the field of suicide terror ism analysis by combining document analysis,
61 literature integration, and seri es of interviews within an innovative case study framework. The main research question at the core of th is multi-case study is: How are socio-political processes, bureaucratic imperatives, and me dia structures involved in the social construction of suicide terrorism? Hence a s ubset of three resear ch questions can be derived: (a) How is suicide terrorism a political weapon? (b) How is suicide terrorism used as a communication tool? (c) How is suicide terroris m a politicized issue that fits into the moral panic framework? Qualitative inquiry, social c onstructionism, and symbolic interactionism allow for more fruitful approaches to study such a complex and adaptive phenomenon as suicide terrorism, which not only comprises a substa ntial human element, but also encompasses political, social, historical, and psychological dimensions. Constructionism has been established as Â“an influential methodologica l paradigmÂ” (Patton, 2001:99) that enables researchers to use a qualitative approach to study human behavior and lived experience, group life, and social phenomena in general. Philip Jenkins has relied on social construc tionism to enlighten us about a variety of social problems. In one study, Jenkins (1994a) offers a social constructionist interpretation of the Â“iceÂ” (smokeable crys tal methamphetamine) epidemic and analyzes the overall structure of drug scares via an ex amination of Congress reports and hearings, media accounts in dailies and weeklies, and the overall context in which policies are developed and national problems cr eated out of local issues. In order to contribute to our understanding of the serial murder mythol ogy, Jenkins (1994b) focuses on rhetoric and the process of social constr uction, the context of news making, changing media patterns, as well as the role of the media, popular cu lture, federal law enforcement and the Justice
62 Department in the making of the myth and the relentless exploita tion of fear. Jenkins (2000) also used the social co nstructionist approach to furt her study the serial killer panic of recent years via an analysis of media publications related to serial murderers, including a search of the New York Times archive since 1960. In another notable study, Jenkins (2003) focused on Â“images of terrorÂ” and pr ovides a critical analysis of mass media representations of terrorism. As noted in the previous chapter, Jenki nsÂ’ work on the social construction of terrorism which had much bearing on the design and implementation of this multi-case study. Other researchers have also employed a social constructionist approach to the study of social problems. For instance, Jacobs & Potter (1998) explain the social construction of the hate crime epid emic by analyzing hate crime legislation and news media coverage to demonstrate that political ambitions, powerful advocacy groups and lobbies, and diehard legi slation were the source of extreme social reaction concerning hateand bias-motivated crimes. Jacobs and Henry (2000) additionally argue that the Â“hate crime epidemicÂ” is a myth, although it has been d ecried by politicians, academics, and journalists alike, as well as spokespersons for various minority advocacy or lobbying groups. Despite what has been re ported since the mid-1980s, there has been no Â“explosionÂ” of hate crimes and statistics have not Â“skyrocketedÂ” in the United States. Jacobs and Henry focus on the inadequacy of da ta gathering methods at the local, state, and federal levels, review ex isting legislation throughout the United States, highlight the slanted interpretation of dubious statistics, and analyze media coverage of hate or bias incidents. They emphasize the propensity of the news media to eagerly Â“embrace the most negative interpretati on of intergroup relationsÂ” ( 2000:51). They conclude that identity politics played a significant part in the creation of symbolic and subjective laws
63 that are based on vague definitions of the concept of hate crime and enforced inconsistently, thus undermining generic crim inal law and intensifying social divisions and conflict. Likewise, a study of the social construction of child abduction (Kappeler, Blumberg & Potter, 2000) assessing the sensa tionalism of news medi a representations of child-related kidnapping cases systematically highlights the use of distorted official definitions, misleading statistics, and media accounts to demonstrate a pattern in the presentation of a crime issue and the subseque nt creation of images and crime myths. The authors essentially focus on how politicians a nd the media exploit the imagery of missing children, as well as the legal reforms that sp ring from emotional societal reaction and in effect create a new type of crime and a new class of criminals without offering a productive solution or an actual prev ention option agains t criminality. As for the symbolic interactionist appro ach, it is highly adaptive and flexible. Hence it has been applied to a variety of contemporary issues to help understand the interaction of agents and institutions, a nd the use of symbolic resources (such as governments and global media networks) to create meanings persuasively. The interpretation of media repr esentations and ideological cl aimsmaking related to a given issue involves a creative and selective proce ss that can be efficien tly analyzed with a sound symbolic interactionist approach. For example, two studies on cybersex (Patton, 2001; Waskul, 2003) used in-depth interviews to analyze the symbolic interaction between cybersex chat-room users and applie d the interaction fram ework to explain the social processes and structures that can emerge in the vi rtual community. Waskul (2002) focuses specifically on televi deo cybersex (as opposed to text-based cybersex) and, through a series of in-depth interviews, studi es the relationships between individuality
64 (selfhood) and the body, as well as the cont ext in which they are both located. The context for interaction is thus singled out as an important aspe ct to consider in order to fully comprehend the relationships between the involved agents and their social situation. More recently, Arena and Arrigo (2 005) published a study relying upon a structural symbolic interactioni st analysis of the terrorist identity. They used five major organizing concepts (symbols, definition of si tuation, roles, socializ ation and role-taking, and the self) in order to develop a conceptu al framework focusing on Â“the importance of culture, self, and society when investigating oneÂ’s membership in and identity through militant extremist organizationsÂ” (2005:485). Th e article resorts to structural symbolic interactionism to improve our Â“understandi ng of how terrorist id entities are created, embraced, and maintained, as well as how they influence the behavior of members in militant extremist subcultureÂ” (Ibid.). Patton (2001:113) notes that the importance of symbolic interac tionism to qualitative inquiry is its distinct emphasis on the importance of symbols and the interpretive processes that undergrid interactions as fundamental to understanding human behavior. . [T]he study of th e original meaning and influence of symbols and shared meaning can shed light on what is most important to people, what will be most resistant to change, and what will be most necessary to change if the . organi zation is to move in new directions. The subject matter and methods of symbolic interactionism also emphasize the importance of paying attention to how particular interactions give rise to symbolic understandings when one is engaged in changing symbols as part of . [an] organizational development process. Case Identification and Selection Criteria Purposeful sampling was used in order to select unique research sites and key participants for this qualitative multicase study. Unlike probability sampling, which derives its logic and strength from its ve ry objective of gene ralization, purposeful
65 sampling consists in selecting, as Blumer himself suggested, information-rich cases for an in-depth study aimed at providing a be tter understanding of a complex social phenomenon. Â“Information-rich cases are those from which one can learn a great deal about issues of central im portance to the purpose of the research, hence the term purposeful samplingÂ” (Patton, 2001:46). Contra ry to quantitative studies using probabilistic sampling, the need for generalization in qualitativ e research is secondary Â– or even nonexistent Â– compared to the signi ficance of the in-dep th understanding of the phenomenon of interest. Types of purpos eful sampling include site selection, comprehensive sampling, maximum variati on sampling, network sampling, and sampling by case type. Â“In choosing what case to study, an array of possibilities for purposeful sampling is available . [from selecting] cases that show different perspectives on the problem, process or event . [to selecting] ordina ry cases, accessible cases, or unusual casesÂ” (Creswell, 1997:62). A combina tion of purposeful sampling stra tegies was used to select cases for this large-scale study. These favored strategies included: 1. Site selection: spec ific sites were selected because the phenomenon of interest (i.e., suicide bombings or suicide terrorism) has occurred or is considered likely to occur there; likelihood of occurrence was de termined based on the socio-political context of a given site, recent increases in overall terrorist activities and recruitment practices, and documented pr esence (e.g., training camps) of groups linked to the phenomenon of interest;
66 2. Typical-case sampling: sites/groups were se lected for analysis if they presented the typical characteristics of sites/groups using or likely to experience/use suicide bombings; 3. Critical-case sampling: sites/groups were sele cted for analysis if they represented dramatic examples of the phenomenon of interest; 4. Concept-based sampling: information-rich (key) participants were sampled due to their scholarly knowledge of professional experience with, or personal exposure to the phenomenon of interest. As a result of this sampling strategy, eleven countries were selected for interviewing and document analysis purposes They are listed below, as well as the rationale for their inclusion. Cases where suicid e terrorism has occurred or is likely to occur, but for which little to no data or in formants were available were omitted. Sampling strategies are summarized in Table 2. 1. Afghanistan: the network known as al-Qaeda, or Â“the Base,Â” was established in Afghanistan; suicide bombings have occurr ed regularly in various parts of the war-torn country; 2. France: representatives of the Ministry of Interior and the Anti-Terrorism Coordination Unit (U.C.L.A.T., or Unit de Coordination de la Lutte AntiTerroriste) were interviewed to discu ss attempts by the Algerian GIA (Groupe Islamique Arm) to perpetrate a suicide attack in Paris in the mid-1990s, as well as current efforts to prevent suicide terrorism across the European Union and at the international level; INTERPOL representatives of the Fusion Task Force were also interviewed for the same purposes;
67 Table 2 Sampling Strategies and Case Selection Site selection Typical-case sampling Critical-case sampling Concept-based sampling Afghanistan Afghanistan Al-Qaeda France France Israel Russia Israel Iraq Kashmir Lebanon Turkey Israel Iraq Sri Lanka United Kingdom Kashmir Turkey United States Lebanon United Kingdom Russia United States Sri Lanka Turkey United Kingdom United States 3. Iraq: the Iraqi insurgency has been re sorting to suicide bombings on a regular basis since the U.S.-led inva sion of the country in 2003; 4. Israel: researchers from the Internationa l Policy Insitute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT; Herzliya, Israel) were contacted due to their scholarly knowledge of, and professional or personal experi ence with suicide terrorism; 5. Kashmir: since the late 1990s, a separatist movement of Kash miri terrorists has perpetrated over a dozen suicide bombings aimed at IndiaÂ’s Hindu government; 6. Lebanon: Hizballah, the Party of God, pion eered the contemporary use of suicide terrorism in the early 1980s; 7. Russia: Chechen rebels opposing the Russi an occupation of Chechnya have been increasingly resorting to suicide bombings since 2000; 8. Sri Lanka: the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) be gan their suicide bombing campaign in 1987 and they are still the most prolific users of suicide bombings in the world;
68 9. Turkey: the PKK (Kurdistan WorkersÂ’ Party; todayÂ’s KONGRA-GEL or KGK) perpetrated several suicide attacks in the mid-1990s; Turkish government and intelligence officials were interviewed; 10. United Kingdom: researchers at the Ce nter for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence were selected due to their scholarly, professional, and personal experiences with suicide te rrorism; in addition, a series of four suicide bombings occurred in central L ondon in July 2005; 11. United States: the September 2001 attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon were the first suicide terror att acks on American soil; the United States had also suffered losses from suicide attacks overseas before (e.g., Kenya and Tanzania U.S. embassy bombings in 1998, USS Cole attack in 2000). The Role of the Researcher My interest in suicide terrorism grew steadily over a decade ago, soon turning into a downright fascination with this comple x, captivating social phenomenon. Growing up in France, where I was exposed to daily news coverage of suicide terror attacks occurring mainly in Lebanon, Sri Lanka, and Israel, I beca me particularly sensit ive to and intrigued by the phenomenology and etiology of this p eculiar form of terrorism. Long before the September 2001 suicide attacks on American landmarks by members of the Afghanistanbased Al-Qaeda terror network, which essent ially introduced both the U.S. government and the general public to the reality of suicide terrorism and its dramatic practical consequences, I decided to focus my resear ch efforts on this extremely violent and adaptive form of terrorism.
69 Soon after (and ever since) the Septembe r 2001 terrorist attack s, a plethora of articles, books and other repor ts flourished in scholarly j ournals, news reports, think tanks, and bookstores across the U.S. a nd most of the world. Many authors, unfortunately, have been se lf-proclaimed experts on terrorism whose knowledge and understanding of the phenomenon have been as flawed and inconsistent as the reductionist interpretations and reactionary polic ies that have been adopted as a result of an obvious misconception of suicid e terrorism and its outcomes. What is featured in political and media discourse on terrorism today? Cases that emphasize the simplistic Â“Good vs. EvilÂ” or Â“Us vs. ThemÂ” binaries promoted by the current administration. Such an approach illu strates the construction of deviant identities via the stigmatization, marginalization, and demonization of entir e groups of people officially labeled as Â“evildoe rsÂ” or Â“evil cowards.Â” Publicly setting the civilized and moral world of Good, as defined by the United States, against the ba rbaric amoral world of Evil of the terrorists only promotes a reduc tionist rhetorical styl e that actually feeds into the similarly dichotomous extremist Is lamic worldview pitting the House of God ( Dar al-Islam ) against the House of War ( Dar al-Harb ). The mechanisms involved in the construc tion of suicide terrorism as a social problem have come to intrigue and fascinate me the most. Hence, the focus of my dissertation shifted from a phe nomenological and etiological an alysis of the issue to an approach centered specifically on the social construction of suic ide terrorism, the commission of objective acts vs. the subjective meanings ascr ibed to such actions, the symbolic interaction involved in the interpre tive process, and the detrimental effects of the ideological and commercial exploitation of the phenomenon. Years of research on the
70 topic have given me insight into the interpre tive understanding of suicide terrorism as a subjective process that is contingent upon vari ous rhetorical mechanisms that are worth studying more closely. Interest groups and bur eaucratic agencies are deeply involved in the interpretation phase and it is essential to explore, uncover, and understand the subjective definitional and rhetorical processes by which suicide terrorism is socially constructed. Failing to do so will only result in developing more inadequate strategies and arbitrary policies that ignore the inherently socio-cultural dimensi on of the problem and the fact that it is first and foremost an inst itutional-level issue. Suicide terrorism is a dynamic phenomenon that involves a substan tial human dimension and deals with the complexity of social interaction. Studying human behavior and hu man experience, as well as the interaction between individuals and their environment therefore calls for a pragmatic and interpretive appr oach effectively factoring the lived experiences of people into the analysis. This is what a qualitativ e study allows, which expl ains why I selected such a paradigm. Prior to directing a qualitative study, a researcher must: (a) Â“adopt the stance suggested by the characteristics of the naturali st paradigmÂ”; (b) Â“develop the level of skill appropriate for a human instrument, or the vehicle through which data will be collected and interpretedÂ”; and (c) Â“prepa re a research design that u tilizes accepted strategies for naturalistic inquiryÂ” (Hoepfl, 1997; also see Lincoln & Guba, 1985). OneÂ’s competence and skills to conduct qualitative research depend largely upon oneÂ’s Â“theoretical sensitivityÂ” (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Hoepfl, 1997; Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Theoretical sensitivity refers to a pe rsonal quality of the researcher. It indicates an awareness of th e subtleties of meaning of data. . [It] refers to the attribute of having insight, the ability to give meaning to data, the
71 capacity to understand, and capability to separate th e pertinent from that which isnÂ’t. (Strauss & Corbin, as cited in Hoepfl, 1997) Theoretical sensitivity is the product of various sources including personal and professional experience, as well as knowledge of the extant scholarly literature. As a result, Â“[t]he credibility of a qualitative rese arch report relies heavily on the confidence readers have in the researcherÂ’s ability to be sensitive to the data a nd to make appropriate decisions in the fieldÂ” (Hoe pfl, 1997; also see Patton, 2001). If humans are the Â“instrument of choiceÂ” when it comes to qualitative or naturalistic inquiry (Lincoln & Guba, 1985), it is mainly because Humans are responsive to environmenta l cues, and able to interact with the situation; they have the ability to collect information at multiple levels simultaneously; they are able to perceive situations holistically; they are able to process data as soon as they become available; they can provide immediate feedback and request verifi cation of data; and they can explore atypical or unexpected responses. (Hoepfl, 1997) LeCompte (1993) further posits that Â“posit ivistic science impo ses a false distance between researchers and the researched by ma ndating that the researcher maintain an artificially impersonal stance toward the peopl e studiedÂ” and that such detachment results Â“in data that present a partia l and therefore false, and an elitist and therefore biased, realityÂ” (1993:11-12). Authenticity is thus pos sible only where it is genuinely reflected in the relationship between the re searcher and the pa rticipant(s), i.e., beyond the simple narrative. LeCompte even argues th at the researcher acts as a mediator to help participants voice their t houghts on and understanding of events and circumstances within the broader context of their own lived experience. Researchers conducting structured intervie ws are typically physically involved but emotionally removed observers who play Â“a neutral role,Â” at the same time Â“casual
72 and friendlyÂ” and Â“directive and impersonalÂ” (Fontana & Frey, 1994:367). Semistructured interviews, on th e other hand, allow for a more open, casual questioning Â– a format that favors more flexibility and authenticity. The interview protocol selected for this study was semi-structured which made it possible for me to effectivel y interact and develop a trust rapport with the research participants while gath ering insightful data on the problem of interest. My involvement in the in-depth interview process was both intensive and extensive Indeed, conducting the interviews required me to make several oversea s trips to meet with the key participants selected for the research in Turkey, Scotla nd, France, and the United States. The length of each stay ranged from two to ten days, depending on the destination and how many participants had to be interviewed. Only one participant was intervie wed per day (in some cases, the interview even spanned two days) in order to ensure that I could spend enough time with each of them and give them enough time for additional questions, formal or informal feedback, etc. Active listening played a significant part in c onducting the interv iews; responses were taped so intensive note-taking would not distract me or the interviewees. Study participants were therefore naturally enc ouraged to become more engaged in the interview process and to openly discuss not only their experience but also their thoughts on suicide terrorism, the meaning-making mechan isms inherent in our understanding of the phenomenon, and various related socio-poli tical issues. The interview process, at times, resembled more an informal convers ation than an interv iew (albeit a semistructured one), which never interfered with the progression of the discussion.
73 Reciprocity issues were also anticipated and addressed wherever necessary. Since interviewing is an obtrusive method that re quires me to intrude on participants, even though they have formally agreed to particip ate in the study, it is important for me to reciprocate when needed. Key informants have shared information with me that I would have otherwise had no access to via document an alysis. Hence, I was clearly indebted to them for their input and insi ght, and if an interviewee fe lt the need to ask additional questions or inquire about my credentials and background, or the pr ogress of the study, the information was provided overtly and ca ndidly. Meanwhile, I bore in mind that too much self-disclosure (or, worse, unsolicited se lf-disclosure) could ha ve a negative effect on the participant and therefore hamper the interview process. As emphasized by Reinharz (1992), it is crucial that I, as a qualitative researcher, learn how to Â“pace my interactions and look for cues from the part icipant as to readine ss to know more about meÂ” (1992:33). Thus, aware of the necessity to both time and measure any type of selfdisclosure, I made sure participants receive d the right amount of information about me when they needed it, in a reasonable and balanced fashion. Data Collection Methods Creswell (1997) emphasizes that, Â“[i]n qua litative research, the convergence of sources of information, views of investig ators, different theories, and different methodologies represents the triangulation of ideas . to help support the development of themesÂ” (1997:251). With case studies, Â“[t]he data collection is extensive, drawing on multiple sources of information such as observations, inte rviews, documents, and audiovisual materialsÂ” (1997:62-63). Such a diversity of information sources and collected data guarantees a more Â“complete pictureÂ” (Patton, 2001:307) of the phenomenon being
74 studied. Such a research strategy based upon triangulation enables researchers to base their case study on multiple source s of information and theref ore evidence (Stake, 1995; Yin, 1994). For this multi-case study, data we re obtained and triangulated using two complementary information sources: in-depth interviews and document analysis. Table 3 describes the sources from which data were co llected and analyzed for the purpose of this multi-case study. They are further detailed below. Table 3 Sources of Data, Type of Eviden ce Collected, and Sample Size Data Sources Type of Data Sample Size Interviews Phenomenological Interviews 22 Elite Interviews 17 Total 39 Documents News Articles 1450 Television News Clips 112 Scholarly Articles 25 Books 9 Archival Records 19 Administrative Documents 24 Government Reports & Memos 43 Private Organization Reports 13 Unclassified Military Reports 16 Feature Films 5 Documentary Films 4 Recruitment Videos 11 Short Films & Animations 5 Militant Websites 18 Speeches & Letters 21 Total 1775 Interviews Thirty-nine on-site interviews were conducted in France, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States, as part of a two-year gran t project on suicide terrorism funded by the U.S. Office of Naval Resear ch via the Global Center for Disaster Management and Humanitarian Action (G-CDM HA) at the University of South Florida
75 (USF). While the interviews focused more on the phenomenology and etiology of suicide terrorism, risk assessments and preventi on, the respondents provided answers that continually reflected the significance of soci al contexts, socio-political forces, and ideology, thus echoing issues i nherent in social constructio nism. Such patterns in the initial data collection phase prompted me to later focus my attention Â– and my subsequent dissertation work Â– on the constructions and interpretations of suicide bombings around the world. The interviews were semi-structured in nature since specific interview questions had to be used within a research protoc ol approved by the USF Institutional Review Board. The interviews typically lasted fr om 60 to 120 minutes, depending on how many additional comments the interviewees had. E ach interviewee signed an informed consent form for minimal-risk research and was aske d about 20 questions, which centered on the issues listed below. Table 4 summarizes re levant interviewee demographics. Due to confidentiality requirements, the exact id entity and related professional or personal details about each interviewee cannot be revealed. The actual interview questions, although they relate more directly to the GCDMHA project than to this current study, are listed in Appendix B. In-depth one-on-one interviews with inform ation-rich participants were selected as a data collection method following the Blum erian tradition of using key informants as interviewees. Blumer indeed Â“considered a carefully select ed group of na turally acute observers and well-informed people to be a r eal Â‘panel of expertsÂ’ about a setting or situation, experts who would ta ke the researcher inside the phenomenon of interestÂ” (Patton, 2001:112). Â“In-depth interviews with multiple informants at each siteÂ” also made
76 it possible Â“to triangulate findi ngs across sources and test issues of reliability and validityÂ” (Marshall & Ro ssman, 1998:60). Potential informants were selected due to their current or past involvement with suicide terrorism policy, prevention or research and contacted to participate in the study. Some declinedfor secu rity or ideological reasons, including a representative of the Arab Eu ropean League who, in January 2004, wrote: Dear Madam, I do not wish to collabor ate on your project, but i can give yuou a tip though. you want to stop people from blowing themselves up? Give them weapons that are equal to those of their opressors or stop opression. Give the palestinians appach i helecoptors and F 16, that would be a good idea to stop people from using their bodies as a weopon to detter the oppressor. (sic) Table 4 Interviewee Demographics for On-Site On e-On-One Phenomenological and Elite Interviewing Process, By Country Country Total of Interviews Affiliation Gender Status France 9 Ministry of Interior; UCLAT; Interpol Male: 8 Female: 1 Civilian: 9 Military: 0 Turkey 15 Turkish National Police; TADOC; UNODC; Ministry of Interior; Ministry of Defense; Turkish Intelligence Agency; University Male: 15 Female: 0 Civilian: 12 Military: 3 United Kingdom 6 CSTPV; University; London Police Male: 6 Female: 0 Civilian: 6 Military: 0 United States 9 University; Army; Air Force; Navy Male: 9 Female: 0 Civilian: 4 Military: 5 Two forms of in-depth interviewing were used and, ultimately, merged into the interview process: phenomenological in terviewing and elite interviewing. Phenomenological interviewing is rooted in phenome nology, Â“the study of lived experiences and the ways we understand those experiences to devel op a worldview,Â” and its goal is to thoroughly Â“describe the meani ng of a concept or phenomenon that several
77 individuals shareÂ” (Marshall & Rossman, 1998: 112). Phenomenological interviewing is a useful tool inasmuch as Â“it permits an explicit focus on the researcherÂ’s personal experience combined with those of the in tervieweesÂ” (1998:113). However, a strict introspective exercise Â– called epoche Â– is necessary for researchers to become fully aware of their own biases and ensure that their own experiences and worldviews do not interfere with those of the interviewees. In the present study, respondents selected for phenomenological interviews were the ones who could provide an academic understanding of the phenomenon (i.e., scholars in Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States), as well as law enforcement and military personnel having had exposure to suicide terrorism or related tr aining (in all four countries vi sited). Out of the thirty-nine interviewees, twenty-two were involved in the phenomenological interviewing process. Elite interviewing on the other hand, focuses specif ically on interviewees who are Â“considered to be influential, prominent, a nd/or well-informed peopl e in an organization or a community . on the basis of their ex pertise in areas relevant to the researchÂ” (Ibid.). Invaluable data can be gathered by interviewing these knowledge-rich people. In addition, elites can Â“report on an organizationÂ’s policies, past historie s, and future plans from a particular perspectiveÂ” (Ibid.), which can yield very useful information that would not be easily obtained elsewhere. The major lim itations of elite interviewing are typically gaining access to the elites and their lack of flexibility when dealing with a relatively or fully structured interview format. In this st udy, these obstacles were circumvented thanks to federal sponsorship for the grant the inte rviews were conducted through, as well as a network of contacts in the va rious agencies or governmental offices included in the project. The quality of the information thus gathered was invaluable. Seventeen of the
78 thirty-nine interviewees were considered e lite respondents due to their top positions and responsibilities within specific national or in ternational agencies (i.e., government, law enforcement, and military senior officials). Document Analysis Document analysis was the second data collectio n method adopted for this study to not only supplement and triangulate the interv iew data, but also ensure more flexibility in the data collection and data analysis pha ses. This is a commonly used method that allows researchers to verify other observati ons or complement interview data. Documents used in this study included either primary sources (i.e., original work) or secondary sources (i.e., secondhand analyses of orig inal work). Focusing on oral narratives (interviews), textual narratives (broadsheet me dia coverage, scholarly journals, official policy statements, formal and informal gove rnmental memoranda, speeches and reports, archival records), and visual narratives (videotaped news coverage, feature films, documentaries, recruitment videos) made it possible to fully explore all available materials concerning suicide terrorism. Articles published worldwide in newspa pers and news magazines between December 1980 and December 2005 were access ed through the LexisNexis Academic database and compared to results from the Associated Press (AP) news archive. Keywords used for the search included: suicide terrorism, suicide bombing, martyrdom operation, suicide bomber, suicide attack, su icide terror attack, su icidal bombing, and homicide bombing. The number of articles thus found is presented in Table 5. The search was then narrowed down using the LexisNexis database option to use only Â“major newsÂ” reports published in Eng lish-language major newspapers and news
79 magazines for the 1980-2005 period. Articles we re randomly sampled from the results. This process yielded a total of 1450 relevant articles. Table 5 Number of Articles Published in Major Newspapers and News Magazines, By Keyword, 1980-2005 LexisNexis Academic Associated Press Archive Suicide Terrorism 6470 5389 Suicide Bombing 7870 10313 Martyrdom Operation 126 0 Suicide Bomber 9790 7256 Suicide Attack 13200 14541 Suicide Terror Attack 2920 938 Suicidal Bombing 41 79 Homicide Bombing 36 73 A total of 1775 documents were collected and systematically analyzed. Besides news articles (n=1450), other open-source documents on suicide bombings that were used in the present study include television news clips (n=112), scholarly articles (n=25), books (n=9), archival records (n=19), ad ministrative documents (n=24), government reports and memoranda (n=43), private organi zation reports (n=13), unclassified military reports (n=16), feature films (n=5), documenta ry films (n=4), recruitment videos (n=11), short films and animations (n=5), militant websites (n=18), as well as speeches and letters (n=21). Most documents were obtained via Inte rnet-based archives; the rest was acquired from the interviewees involved in the phe nomenological and elite interviewing process described above. The data gathering phase of this study wa s twofold and required a general review of documents, as well as a systematic historical analysis of documents. A general review of documents an unobtrusive interpretive method th at allows for the use of content analysis for the examination of various ma terials on suicide bombings, as well as a
80 systematic historical analysis of documents occurred prior to conducting in-depth interviews (inasmuch as it pr ovided me with a thorough knowledge of su icide terrorism, its emergence many centuries ago, its contempor ary developments and current trends, as well as the groups that have used / use / could resort to this method). Both were also used during the content analysis phase of the study in order to pr ovide more insight into the subjective interpretation of suicide bombing events over time and across countries. Content analysis made it possible to examine a nd categorize the contents of the sources used. As Â“a systematic, replicable technique for compressing many words of text into fewer content categories based on exp licit rules of codingÂ” (Stemler, 2001), content analysis may be broadly defined as Â“any t echnique for making inferences by objectively and systematically identifying specified char acteristics of messag esÂ” (Holsti, 1969:14). Hence, the method is not limited to textual anal ysis. It has in fact been used in other areas, such as coding drawings (Wheeloc k, Haney, & Bebell, 2000) and coding actions observed in videotaped studies (Stigler, Gonzales, Kawanaka, Knoll, & Serrano, 1999). The advantage of content anal ysis is that it Â“enables rese archers to sift through large volumes of data with relativ e ease in a systematic fashionÂ” (Stemler, 2001). As Weber (1990) points out, content analys is is a valuable method for observing and depicting Â“the focus of individual, group, institutional, or so cial attention.Â” Furthe rmore, researchers can use content analysis to make inferences that may be corroborated by additional, complementary data collection techniques. As Krippendorff (1980) mentions, Â“[m]uch content analysis research is motivated by the search for tech niques to infer from symbolic data what would be either too costly, no l onger possible, or too obtrusive by the use of other techniquesÂ” (1980:51). Here, content an alysis began with a word-frequency count
81 and also entailed devising codes to divide th e data into sensible concept-based groups. A specific coding scheme was thus applied to the da ta and the latter were classified so that the frequency of specific concepts could be recorded and computed more easily. The frequency breakdown of the codes for each concept is explained and tabulated later on. Concept mapping was then used in order to methodically analyze emerging patterns and themes in the data. Miller a nd Riechert (1994) provide a thorough discussion of concept mapping, a scaling technique that enables researchers to observe and depict themes or categories of content within larger amounts of text. Thei r analysis highlights three major benefits of concept mapping over a more traditional take on content analysis: (a) concept mapping is a fast and convenient t ool to draw attention to significant themes in large textual bodies; (b) such themes, rather than being subjectively designed and imposed by the researcher, emerge from th e data themselves; and (c) concept mapping emphasizes the significance of and associa tions between themes. The concept map for this study is provided later on in this chapte r, under the Â“Data In terpretationÂ” section. For instance, the collection of data on suicide bombings in Turkey was a twofold process. On the one hand, in-depth one-onone interviews were conducted in Ankara, Turkey, between April 13 and April 21, 2004. The main focus of these interviews were the fifteen suicide bombings perpetrate d by the PKK (todayÂ’s KONGRA-GEL) between June 30, 1995, and July 15, 1999, as well as known aborted missions. Interviewees included senior officials from and resear chers affiliated with the Turkish Academy against Drugs and Organized Crime (TADOC); top officials from the Information Ministry; top officials from the Bomb Squad and Anti-Terrorism Unit of the Turkish National Police Academy; top officials at the Anti-Terrorism Ministry and
82 representatives of the Security Department; se nior officials from the Interior Security Department; top officials at the headquarters of TurkeyÂ’s Intelligence Services; and senior members of the Organized Crime Unit at the Ministry of In terior. On the other hand, documents were obtained from the above mentioned interviewees and a variety of other authoritative sources, such as govern mental Websites and official publications, published state and research re ports, available press archives (Associated Press coverage and Lexis-Nexis-Academic drawn data), as well as the official Website currently maintained by KONGRA-GEL and associated Kurdish and PKK-related Websites and publications. The contents of the documents and other sources were systematically analyzed by following a twofold approach. First, a conceptual analysis was carried out to highlight the presence and frequency of certain key words or concepts related to suicide terrorism (e.g., suicide, bomb ing, martyrdom, martyr, sacrifi ce, jihad, infidels, mission, Kurdistan, Kurdish, PKK, nationalism, ethnic conflict, separatism). Second, a relational analysis of the documents and sources made it possible to lay emphasis on the relationships between these words or concepts, in order to infer their meaning within the text and deduce specific charac teristics of their authors and intended audience. As a result of the association of certain words or concep ts, various patterns and subjective meanings emerged. Methodological Concerns Smith (1998) contends that Â“a critical pr agmatist stance . re jects the dominant empiricist goal of research as generating know ledge or adding to scientific theorising, and instead proposes a moral base of reas oning.Â” Indeed, the pur pose of qualitative research Â“is not to produce knowle dge of the social world as an entity but to engage in
83 knowledge making as a human activity. This is fundamentally a normative undertaking. It requires that we come to terms with a sense of moral purpose and re sponsibility in human inquiry . to persuade one another of the value or goodness of a way of thinkingÂ” (Schwandt, 1993:19-20). As Smith (1992) posits, interpretive inquiry is consequently both a practical and a moral activity: Â“the pursuit of knowledge must be understood in practical and moral termsÂ” (1992:102). Thus, owing to the moral element involved, one cannot differentiate belief and opinion usi ng epistemology (see Smith, 1992; Schwandt, 1993). Conducting research consists in offering Â“a publicly scrutinizable analysis of a phenomenon with the intent of clarificationÂ” (Reinharz, 1992:9). The purpose of this study, as stated before, is to expand our theo retical and practical understanding of suicide terrorism by providing some much needed insight into the so cial construction of suicide terrorism. While gather ing and analyzing data to conduc t this study, several issues or concerns arose that had to be methodically addressed. First, it appeared primordial to ascert ain the Â“truth valueÂ” (Lincoln & Guba, 1985:290) of the study, as well as Â“its a pplicability, consistency, and neutralityÂ” (Marshall & Rossman, 1998:192). Researchers, in their efforts to determine the best possible estimate of the veracity of their st udies, are mostly concerned with what is commonly referred to as validity Campbell and Stanley (196 6), amongst others, have highlighted two types of valid ity: internal and external. Internal validity can be described as the level of authority with which we infe r that the relationship between two variables is causal. On the other hand, external validity refers to the level of certainty with which we can infer that the alleged causal relations hip can be generalized to and across various
84 measures of the cause-and-effect link, and across different settings, times, or groups of people. The strength of a qualitative study that aims to explore a problem or describe a setting, a process, a social group, or a pattern of interaction will rest with its validity. An in-depth de scription showing the complexities of processes and interactions will be so embedded with data derived from the setting that it cannot help but be va lid. Within the para meters of that setting, population, and theoretical fr amework, the research will be valid. A qualitative researcher should ther efore adequately state those parameters, thereby placing bounda ries around the st udy (Marshall & Rossman, 1998:192-193). Much like reliability and objectivity, intern al validity and exte rnal validity both relate to a more Â“conventional positivist paradigmÂ” (Marshall & Rossman, 1998:192) and therefore do not seem to adequa tely fit the inherently naturalistic qualitative research framework. Although the issue of validity is mo stly relevant to quantitative studies, the same terms are sometimes used in the contex t of qualitative research Â– albeit with a slightly different understanding. More specif ically, in qualitative research, internal validity is influenced by the research design, whereas extern al validity refers to the extension or transferability of the qua litative findings. Some scholars, however, recommend the use of distinct constructs in order to assess the value and logic of qualitative research. Munro (as cited in Smit h, 1998) further argues that validity Â“is not a useful [term] in research that seeks u nderstanding and meaning.Â” For the purpose of qualitative research, then, the term Â“valid ityÂ” must be reconcep tualized and clearly distinguished from the empiricist logic that drives quantitative i nquiry. Four original constructs have been proposed in the scholarly literature: credibility transferability dependability and confirmability (see Lincoln & Guba, 1985; Marshall & Rossman,
85 1998; Smith, 1998). Each one was scrupulously a ddressed within the framework of this study. Credibility Establishing the credibility of a study c onsists in showing that Â“the inquiry was conducted in such a manner as to ensure th at the subject was accurately identified and describedÂ” (Marshall & Rossman, 1998:192). Th e credibility of th e qualitative study essentially depends upon the common understa nding and interpretation of concepts by the researcher and the study pa rticipants. This is compar able to what quantitative researchers focus on when determining the internal validity of their research design. In order to optimize the cred ibility of the qualitative re search design of this study, following recommendations by McMillan and Schumacher (1997), various strategies were resorted to. First of all, prolonged fi eldwork was a priority during and well after the phase involving the in itial G-CDMHA grant project on the phenomenology and etiology of suicide terrorism. That allowed for interim data analysis as well as data substantiation, which ensured that study findings matched participant reality. Furthermore, precise accounts of interviews using verb atim statements made by the interviewees, in addition to strictly quoted excerpts from documents en sured that the exact language used by the participants or in the analyzed documents we re transformed into objective data. Likewise, low-inference descriptors were us ed, so as to accurately reco rd detailed descriptions of specific situations. The use of mechanically recorded data (through the extensive use of digital voice recorders, videotapes, and photographs) further ensured the accuracy and easy corroboration of the data collected. In terviewees were aske d to double-check the accuracy of the information collected. After eac h interview, participants were also asked
86 to review the exactness of the informati on gathered and transcribed during their interview(s). Finally, negative cases or conflicting data likely to either stand out as exceptions to observed patterns or alter data patterns, if any, were controlled for, recorded, analyzed, and reported. Transferability Qualitative researchers must demonstrate th at their study findings Â“will be useful to others in similar situations, with similar research questions or questions of practiceÂ” (Marshall & Rossman, 1998:193). With qualitat ive studies, external validity depends on whether the findings can be extended or transf erred Â– either as grounded theory or as an analytic synthesis that may be used by othe r researchers to conduct further research on the phenomenon or at least appreciate comparable cases. Thus, knowledge can be produced not by replicating studies but, ra ther, where extensiv e corroborating data gathered via additional case studies (or even more positivist quantitative analyses) of the phenomenon become available. Â“A qualitative studyÂ’s transferab ility or generalizability to other settings may be problematic. The generalization of qualitative findings to other populations [or] settings . is seen by traditional canons as a wea kness in the approachÂ” (Marshall & Rossman, 1998:193). The transferability, or extension, of qualitative findings is influenced by several factors. In this study, finding tran sferability was maximized by paying special attention to: (a) the re searcherÂ’s role and relationship w ith the study participants; (b) the site and key informant selection process via pu rposeful sampling; (c) the social context of both the phenomenon and the study it self; (d) the data collecti on and analysis strategies; (e) the accuracy of the narrative da ta; (f) the typicality of the selected groups or sites; (g)
87 the specificity and flexibility of the analyt ic framework; and (h ) potential alternative interpretations. It is important to note that the chosen in tellectual framework of this study ensures that both the collection and the analysis of the data are constantly steered by the use of specific theoretical concepts and models. Si nce this study is exp licitly informed by a body of theory Â– namely social construc tionism and, more specifically, symbolic interactionism Â– researchers or policym akers focusing on similar parameters are ultimately free to decide if the cases presented in this analysis are transferable to new and comparable research settings, or ge neralizable for policymaking purposes. One of the strengths of this study deri ves from its likelihood to significantly contribute to our empirical unde rstanding of suicide terrorism. The qualitative research design used here is both empirical and in terpretive, aimed at fostering substantive knowledge about the phenomenon of suicide terrorism and its so cially constructed nature. Hence, although it is not purely empirical, th is study has a strong potential for yielding empirically significant results by providing researchers and policymakers with much insight into the phenomenon of suicide te rrorism and, ultimately, its prevention. In order to safeguard the empirical inte grity and optimize the transferability or generalizability of the study, another important strategic tool was used in addition to systematic data collection procedures: triangulation a concept that Â“has been fruitfully applied to social science inquiryÂ” (Marshall & Rossman, 1998:194). The triangulation of multiple data sources Â“is the act of bringing more than one source of data to bear on a single point. . Data from different sources can be used to corroborate, elaborate, or illuminate the research in question. . Designing a study in which multiple cases,
88 multiple informants, or more than one da ta-gathering method are used can greatly strengthen the studyÂ’s usefulness for other se ttingsÂ” (Ibid.). Triangul ation is therefore a corollary of the use of multiple sources of da ta; both ensure the collection of high-quality qualitative data. Patton (2001) stresses that Â“multiple sour ces of information are sought and used because no single source of information can be trusted to provide a comprehensive perspective. . By using a combinati on of observations, interviewing, and document analysis, the field worker is able to use diffe rent data sources to va lidate and cross-check findingsÂ” (2001:306). As explained by Marshall and Rossman (1998) and further clarified by Patton (2001:306), Â“[e]ach type and source of data has strengths and weaknesses. Using a combination of data types Â– triangulati on . Â– increases validity as the strengths of one approach can compensate for the wea knesses of another a pproach.Â” Triangulation, like any other method, has its flaws. It is impor tant to bear in mind that Â“triangulation is not a strategy of validation but an alternative to validationÂ” and that Â“the various forms of triangulation can produce at best only an expanded interpretive ba se in a study rather than an objective account (an account which assume s a single, objective reality)Â” (Smith, 1998). While Â“there is no magic in triangula tionÂ” (Patton, as cited in Smith, 1998), it is still useful and advantageous fo r researchers to Â“include tria ngulation of data sources and analytical perspectives to increase the accuracy and credibility of findingsÂ” (Patton, 2001:93). Dependability Guaranteeing the dependability or trustw orthiness of a study requires researchers Â“to account for changing conditions in the phenomenon chosen for study and changes in
89 the design created by an increasingly refine d understanding of the setting . [which follows] the qualitative/interpretive assumpti on that the social world is always being constructed and that the concept of replic ation in itself is problematicÂ” (Marshall & Rossman, 1998:194). During the course of this study, the initial focus on the phenomenology and etiology of suicide terrorism shifted towards a more specific analysis centered around issues of social constr uction and symbolic interaction. Conducting interviews with key informants, analyzing th e phenomenon via the study of typical cases, and reviewing documents related to suic ide bombings worldwide, from guerilla movements to war-zone insurgen ts, all contributed to the r ealization that there is an apparent underlying theme in the presentati on and interpretation of bombings as suicide terrorism Â– a social constructionist them e with clear symbolic interactionist underpinnings. As a result, the focal point of the study became the analysis of suicide terrorism as a socially co nstructed problem. Data were subsequently aggregated, examined, summarized, and synthesized in a cr itical and systematic fashion to look for, identify, and interpret patter ns evidencing the socially constructed nature of suicide terrorism. Overall reliability was optimized by: (a) prolonging the data gathering processes on site in order to ensure the dependability of the findi ngs by providing more concrete information upon which to base interpreta tions; (b) triangulating across methods and sources so as not to rely exclusively on one type of observation; (c) having participants actively check and corroborate the interpreta tion of collected data; and (d) collecting referential materials in order to compleme nt or support the data collected on site.
90 The limitations of purposeful sampling were of course considered. So was the subsequent likelihood of error. Indeed, Â“[i]n spite of the appa rent flexibility in purposeful sampling, researchers must be aware of three types of sampling error that can arise in qualitative research. The first relates to distortions caused by insufficient breadth in sampling; the second from distortions intr oduced by changes over time; and the third from distortions caused by lack of depth in data collection at each siteÂ” (Hoepfl, 1997; also see Patton, 2001). The sampling breadth of this study was wide enough that it included cases from very divers e areas of the world, political or religious origins, etc. Changes over time were not a significant risk factor insofar as the socially constructed understanding of the phenomenon of suicide te rrorism appears constant regardless of time and place. As for case-specific data co llection methods, they were as thorough as possible, including all available a nd accessible information sources. Additionally, it is we ll understood that ga thering data via in terviews is not a flawless collection method (see Marshall & Rossman, 1998; Patton, 2001). Indeed, Â“[i]nterview data limitations include possibly distorted re sponses due to personal bias, anger, anxiety, politics, and simple lack of aw areness. . Interview data are also subject to recall error, reactivity of the interviewee to th e interviewer, and se lf-serving responsesÂ” (Patton, 2001:306). However, in this study, the triangulation of information across sources (interviews and document analysis ) helps ensure the depth and associated dependability of the research. It is furthe r taken into account th at Â“[d]ocuments and records also have limitations. They may be incomplete or inaccurate . notoriously variable in quality and completeness, with grea t detail in some cases and virtually nothing in othersÂ” (2001:306-307). Nevertheless, the an alysis of documents was essential to the
91 study for it complemented and strengthened the data gathered from in-depth interviews, while providing Â“a behind-the-scenes look . that may not be directly observable and about which the interviewer might not ask appropriate questions without the leads provided through documentsÂ” (2001:307). Confirmability This construct Â“captures the traditional c oncept of objectivity . to ask whether the study could be confirmed by another . [and whether] the data help confirm the general findings and lead to the implica tionsÂ” (Marshall & Rossman, 1998:194). Due to the very nature of qualitative inquiry, it is likely th at the subjectivity of the researcher will influence the research. However, such subjectivity can be disciplined enough to ensure that the researcher not only subjects himself or he rself to a scrupulous selfexamination, but also constantly reconsiders and reassesses all the st ages of his or her research process (see Hoepfl, 1997; Kushne r & Norris, 1981; Maxw ell, 1992; Norris, 1997). For the purpose of this study, as sugges ted by McMillan and Schumacher (1997), research bias was systematically monitore d and subjectivity therefore reduced by: (a) keeping a field log of dates, times, locations, people, and activities for every data set collected; (b) keeping a field journal in order to record all decisions made while designing the study (including rationale for such decisions and data validity evaluation); (c) documenting pertinent ethical considerations i.e., logging ethical issues, decisions, or actions where applicable; (d) ensuring audibility by documenting data management techniques, codes, catego ries; and (e) formally corroborating initial findings by conducting confirmation interviews.
92 As explained above, the conceptual fram ework of this study relies upon the social constructionist perspective and a symbolic inte ractionist approach to study and provide a better understanding of the inte rpretation and subjective mean ing of suicide terrorism. Figure 2 presents a concept map that summa rizes the research design of this study, including its goals, conceptual framework, research questions, methods, and validity issues. Data Interpretation This comprehensive research project yielde d a profusion of rich qualitative data that had to be meticulously organized and an alyzed. The collection and analysis of the data were part of a continuous cycle and ite rative process. In or der to structure and interpret the meanings derived from th e raw data, the latter were methodically transcribed, coded, categorized, and analyzed following procedures and mechanisms described below. Constant Comparative Analysis As Â“the most complex and mysterious of all the phases of a qualitative projectÂ” data analysis is Â“an explicit step in conceptu ally interpreting the data set as a whole, using specific analytic strategies to transform the ra w data into a new and coherent depiction of the thing being studiedÂ” (Thor ne, 2000:68). Data were constantly analyzed throughout each and every phase of this study. Constant comparative analysis was the chosen analytical strategy to sort, orga nize, conceptualize, refine, and interpret the data collected.
93 Figure 2: Research Design Concept Map Research Questions How are socio-political processes, bureaucratic mechanisms, and media structures involved in the social construction of suicide terrorism? How is suicide terrorism a political weapon? How is suicide terrorism used as a communication tool? How is suicide terrorism a politicized issue that fits into the moral panic framework? Methods Multi-case study In-depth interviewing (phenomenological & elite) Document analysis (general document review & historical review ) Validity Prolonged investigation Triangulation of methods & sources Participant assessment of data interpretation Collection of referential materials to support on-site data Goals Improve our understanding of suicide terrorism Understand the conceptualization and interpretation of suicide terrorism Highlight the processes involved in the social construction of suicide terrorism Conceptual Framework Social constructionism Symbolic interactionism Interpretive tradition
94 Â“Naturalistic inquiry, thema tic analysis, and interpreti ve description are methods that depend on constant compar ative analysis processes to develop ways of understanding human phenomena within the context in whic h they are experienced Â” (2000:69). Constant comparative analysis was initially Â“d eveloped for use in the grounded theory methodology of Glaser and Strauss, which itself evolved out of the sociological theory of symbolic interactionismÂ” (Ibid.). It consists of comparing individual parts of the data (e.g., an interview, an article or a theme) with the rest of the records Â“in order to develop conceptualizations of the possible relations between various pieces of dataÂ” (Ibid.). This suits another important goal of the study: to generate findings and new knowledge about common patterns and themes within human experi ence as relates to suicide terrorism. Data Transcription and Storage Collected data were systematically tr anscribed using a basic word processor (Microsoft Word). This process yielded ove r 4,500 pages of notes. As explained before, substantial amounts of data were gleane d from recorded observations (in-depth interviews), texts and archival documents ( hundreds of relevant articles compiled from newspapers and magazines published since 1980), multi-media sources available in the public domain (e.g., documentaries, recruitm ent videos, television news, Websites, Internet documents), policy statements and governmental handbooks, and more. Hypermedia data were transcribed into text and later analyzed and interpreted as was the rest of the data. Hence both raw data (obser vations and comments as captured in notes and on recording devices) and summary data (objective interpretati ons of the raw data, including statements regarding emerging patt erns) were transcribed and stored into a database created to organize all the data and help with its analysis. A traditional filing
95 technique (with a color-coded system and t yped data summaries) was preferred over the use of a computer software program. A lthough the technologica lly advanced option would have been a time-saving one, many resear chers Â– including this author Â– consider the introduction of computerized qualita tive data analysis as a menace to Â“methodological purityÂ” (Bourdon, 2002:1). Codes and Analytic Categories Â“A key ingredient in structuring collected da ta for analysis is how that data is [sic] captured in the first placeÂ” (Kantner, Sova, & Anschuetz, 2005:1). The higher the quality of the data and collection process is, the more reliable the interpretive understanding will be. Text and sub-texts may thus be deconstructed more efficiently and multiple meanings may be uncovered, which will in turn help deconstruct the meanings of the phenomenon of interest and present an accurate representati on of social reality. This all depends on the quality of the thematic interpretation of meaning based on the data collected. The difficulty, of course, is in the coding of texts and in finding the patterns. . Deciding on themes or codes is an unmitigated, qualitative act of analysis in the co nduct of a particular study, guided by intuition and experience about what is important and what is unimportant. (Bernard, 1996:2-3) Interpreting the qualita tive data gathered throughout the course of the project thus required developing coherent c oding and category systems. The data were coded to help with their systematic analysis and to increas e the overall reliability and validity of the study. Variables (concepts) and values (positiv e, negative, neutral) were identified by carefully examining indexed interview notes (transcripts), researcher memos, and all other forms of data available. The data were then segmented into significant analytical units and subsequently labeled with speci fic codes or category names, which were
96 purposely selected to be short and mnemonic. The categories and codes of the words and concepts present in the data are summarized in Table 6. Table 6 Master List of Categories and Codes Categories Codes Actors ACT Media MED Public PUB Social control agents SC AGTS Suicide bombers SB Groups (terrorist or otherwise) GRP Political context POL CON Terrorism TERR Separatism SEPAR Nationalism NATIO Elections ELECT Other AUTR Religious context REL CON Islam ISL Radical Islam RAD ISL Other AUTR Situational context SIT CON Civil war CIV WAR War WAR Insurgency INSURG Rebellion REBEL Guerrilla GUERR Democracy DEMO Other AUTR Stages of moral panic MOR PAN Occurrence and signification SIGNIF Social implications SOC IMPL Social control measures SOC CTRL Media coverage MED COV Fact-based FACT Opinion OPI Contradiction CONTRAD Distortion DISTORT Sensationalism SENSAS Moralization MORAL Politicization POLITZ Demonization DEMON Religiosity RELIG Moral discourse MORAL Agenda setting AGDA
97 Key concepts formed the master codes : actors (ACT), political context (POL CON), religious context (REL CON), situational context (S IT CON), stages of moral panic (MOR PAN), media coverage (MED COV), and politicization (POLITZ). Subcodes (second-level coding) emerged from these major analytic categories. A priori codes were developed before examining the data, whereas inductive codes were created upon examining the data. Co-occurring codes were observed where codes partially or completely overlapped, i.e., where segments of data got coded with more than one code. A codebook was then created following three diffe rent but complementary strategies that fit the design and purpose of this study: coding according to theory, coding by induction, and coding by ontological categories. Coding according to theory consists of listing variab les and corresponding codes based upon theoretical reasoning: the analytical framework or research questions of the study guided the creation of th is part of the codebook. Such coding occurred in the present study with concepts inhe rent in the constructionist and interactionist perspectives. These codes include: actors (media, public, agents of social control) and stages of moral panics (occurrence and significat ion, social implications, soci al control measures). They refer to such concepts as the nature of the threat (episodi c suicide bombing), the signification of the threat as serious and vi olent (by the media to the community), the ensuing galvanization and in tensification of public atte ntion and policymaking, the claims-making process inherent in the constr uction of fear and social problems, risk inflation, demonization (suicide bombers as folk devils), spec ific or radical rhetoric in official statements and medi a reports, moral panic, agenda setting, rule creation and enforcement, social control process, and so on.
98 Coding by induction follows grounded theory principles and calls for the incremental coding of the data set as theoretic al questions emerge. It is rooted in four general observation categories: conditions (causes of the pe rceived phenomenon), interaction between actors, strategies and ta ctics used by actors, and consequences of actions. On the other hand, coding by ontological categories as a middle-ground approach, borrows from the two previous types of coding and helps to focus on the context of the events, objective actions, subjective interpretations, socio-political processes, social structures, a nd strategies or responses. This type of coding was used to label concepts related to: political context (terrorism, separatism, nationalism, elections, other), religious context (Islam, radical Islam, other), situational context (civil war, war, insurgency, rebellion, guerrill a, democracy, other), media c overage (fact-based, opinion, contradiction, distortion, sensationalism, and moralization), and politicization (demonization, religiosity, moral discourse, agenda setting). Relationships among codes or between categories were also labeled using pattern coding in order to detect and tag inter-thematic articulations, common characteristics, discrepancies, and peculiarities (e.g., co-exist ence of two variables; exceptions to the norm). Whatever trends and patterns emerged w ithin the data struct ure were methodically encoded and summarized to maximize the t horoughness and objectivity of the analysis. Hence, certain words and concepts were coupled with the abovementioned coding scheme in order to classify the concepts emerging from the data. Recurring words and concepts were then color-coded, labeled, tall ied up, and condensed in to a frequency table (Table 7).
99 Table 7 Concept Frequencies, Count and Percentage By Categories Categories Codes Count and Percentage Actors ACT n=11163 Media MED 1328 (11.9%) Public PUB 947 (8.5%) Social control agents SC AGTS 1423 (12.7%) Suicide bombers SB 4179 (37.4%) Groups (terrorist or otherwise) GRP 3286 (29.4%) Political context POL CON n=9553 Terrorism TERR 8689 (90.9%) Separatism SEPAR 234 (2.4%) Nationalism NATIO 451 (4.7%) Elections ELECT 156 (1.6%) Other AUTR 23 (0.2%) Religious context REL CON n=2481 Islam ISL 975 (39.3%) Radical Islam RAD ISL 1267 (51.1%) Other AUTR 239 (9.6%) Situational context SIT CON n=3399 Civil war CIV WAR 206 (6.1%) War WAR 1374 (40.4%) Insurgency INSURG 806 (23.7%) Rebellion REBEL 234 (6.9%) Guerrilla GUERR 326 (9.6%) Democracy DEMO 164 (4.8%) Other AUTR 289 (8.5%) Stages of moral panic MOR PAN n=7641 Occurrence and signification SIGNIF 2181 (28.5%) Social implications SOC IMPL 2896 (37.9%) Social control measures SOC CTRL 2564 (33.6%) Media coverage MED COV n=2676 Fact-based FACT 364 (13.6%) Opinion OPI 566 (21.1%) Contradiction CONTRAD 98 (3.7%) Distortion DISTORT 167 (6.2%) Sensationalism SENSAS 983 (36.7%) Moralization MORAL 498 (18.6%) Politicization POLITZ n=2546 Demonization DEMON 254 (10%) Religiosity RELIG 365 (14.3%) Moral discourse MORAL 659 (25.9%) Agenda setting AGDA 1268 (49.8%)
100 Synthetic Network Diagram A synthetic network diagram is a data-based analytic tool that helps to structure the collected data and present them in a visu ally simplified fashion. Diagrams are useful tools to identify and explicate relations between the various elements of a phenomenon of interest. They also enable researchers and th e reader to more clearly observe conceptual, categorical, situational, temporal, and causal links. Figure 3 provides such a visual aid, emphasizing the connections between the categor ies and concepts at stake in the current multi-case study of the social construction of suicide terrorism.
101 Suicide bombing (episodic threat) Dramatic media coverage Signification as violent and seriou s threat to community/society Media exposure Galvanized attention of terrorist group Increased public concern of policymakers Claims-making process Threat inflation Demoniza tion Fearmongering rhetoric Constructed collective insecurity Moral panic Agenda setting a nd enforcement Radical discourses Demand resolution of endemic crisis Social control mechanisms Figure 3: Network Diagram for the Social Construction of Suicide Terrorism
102 Chapter Four Findings Overview of Patterns and Themes The subjective definitional and rhetor ical processes involved in the social construction of suicide terrorism are eviden ced by examining the comprehensive data collected via in-depth interviews, as well as the general and historical review of public and official documents. The outcome of the analysis, summed up below, indeed sheds light on the symbolic interaction of socio-po litical processes, bureaucratic mechanisms, and media structures involved in the social construction of suicide terrorism. The use of suicide terrorism as a political weapon, its exploitation as a communication tool, and its politicization to fuel moral panics are discus sed in details later on in this chapter. Overall, the study findings show that repr esentations and interpretations of suicide bombings in public policy and the mass me dia are unrefined and overwhelmingly onedimensional: they ignore the dynamics of the historical, social, cultural, economic, and psychological dimensions of the events. The media and agents of social control use unsophisticated portrayals of suicide bombings as religiously motivated acts and usually describe suicide terrorism as a mere manifest ation of evil. However, suicide terrorism is more a political act than a religious one a nd the main motivating factor of contemporary suicide bombing campaigns has consis tently been foreign occupation.
103 News coverage of suicide bombings is ch aracteristically sensa tionalized and uses overly dramatic, newsworthy stories about se lected incidents or conflicts. Suicide bombers are selectively depicted as simplis tic enemies, crazed cowards, and demonized foes. The vast majority of cases that ar e publicly acknowledged and widely analyzed concern Middle Eastern incidents involvi ng Islamic fundamentalists. Likewise, public policy is almost exclusively based on su icide terrorism by Middle Eastern, Islamist groups or bombers that are described following an Â“Us vs ThemÂ” outlook on the issue within the greater Â“War on TerrorÂ” framewor k. Secular groups, however prolific in their use of the deadly tactic, are seldom the fo cal point of policymaking efforts or media exposure. Media portrayals and public policy rely on radical perceptions and intrinsically flawed interpretations of su icide terrorism. They usually hinge upon erroneous Â“typical profilesÂ” of the average bombers. Suicide att acks are thus presented as extremely violent and elaborate propaganda tools in the hands of dangerous religious fanatics who are distressed, wrathful, unstable a nd suicidal, and have nothing to lose. Bombers are also habitually described as poor, uneducated, young males who were brainwashed by the fundamentalist precepts of Wahhabist Islam and the promise of a glorious afterlife. This is in total contradiction with the reality of suic ide bombings. The latter are, in fact, characterized by a combination of primitive means and meticulous planning (recruitment, formation, and training) that results in extensive physic al and psychological harm. Moreover, suicide bombers are not primarily suicidal and generally do not suffer from any diagnosable psychological disorders or cognitive impairments impeding effective problem-solving skills. Not all suicide bom bings are perpetrated by exponents of a
104 fundamentalist interpreta tion of Islam or any other religi on, for that matter: some secular groups have resorted to the tactic, includi ng the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in Sri Lanka. The Tigers, in fact, are to this day the most prolific users of su icide bombings. Finally, women and children are increasingly recruite d for suicide missions by several secular and religious groups that view them as provi ding invaluable tactical advantages. Though media coverage of these two rising types of bombers is gr owing, it usually misidentifies their motivations for getting involved in suicide missions and minimizes their involvement in such operations. Suicide Bombings as Political Weapons Suicide bombings have been a modus operandi for terrorist groups for centuries. The contemporary wave of suicide terrorism started in the ea rly 1980s and clearly demonstrates that the phenomenon is not prim arily religious, unlike what is described in the Western news media. Indeed, as confir med by a recent review of Â“every suicide terrorist attack around the world since 1980Â” and over 460 suicide bombers, Â“what over 95 percent of suicide terroris t attacks since 1980 have in common is not religion, but a clear strategic goal: to compel modern democr acies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terro rists view as their homeland or prize greatlyÂ” (Pape, 2005). Suicide terrorism as a political weapon appears to be a strategically Â“logi cÂ” choice (Pape, 2003; 2005) that can result in mass casualty situa tions, causes extensive physical damage and psychological harm, requires no escape plan for the bombers, and poses negligible security threats to th e group since suicide bombers character istically die in the course of the attacks and therefore cannot be interrogated by security forces afterward. In addition, suicide terrorism is as inexpensive as it is effective.
105 Estimates are that it can cost as li ttle as $150 to conduct a suicide attack. Although extremely complicated attacks may cost more, the effectiveness of these attacks is usually worth the investment. For instance, the estimated cost to plan and conduc t the 9/11 attack s is between $400,000 and $500,000, yet the resulting massive casualties, economic expense to the United States, and the notoriety r eceived by al Qaeda made this attack exceptional in terrorist value with minimal money cost. (U.S. Army, 2005:III-1) As one interviewee (a former British military analyst) put it: What you must remember is that suic ide bombings constitute a form of armed violence that is characteristic of asymmetric warfare... This essentially means that suicide bombings will unmistakably happen in violent, politically-based conflicts wh ere one side does not have the same means available to fight equitabl y Â– conventional weapons, expensive tanks, cruise missiles, so phisticated helicopters, advanced technology, etc. Martyrdom operations are much cheap er than conventi onal warfare and they can cause extensive damage on the targets, whether it is material or psychological damage, in addition to kill ing many people. It is easy to see why they would be preferred as strategic weapons. At the same time, suicide bombings do not happen in a vacuum. They become political weapon as a result of the context they occur in, th e way they are dealt with by the various socio-political forces involved, and how the public reacts to them. According to one of the British scholars interviewed: A suicide attack only becomes a polit ical weapon once it is publicized by the media and people respond with a cer tain state of panic. The wave propagates throughout the population and then you have people who have never heard of a given group but fear for their life and want protection, a solution. Â“A suicide bombing is nothing more than an explosion in an enclosed or open space,Â” another American scholar argued. Â“T he initial response involves only first responders: law enforcement and emergency services, really. The rest Â– the mass hysteria, the fear that spreads like wildfires throughout the count ry like it did after 9/11 Â– thatÂ’s a response we can thank the media fo r.Â” The same respondent later added: Â“Some
106 bombings could be suicide terrorism, but no one will talk about them if theyÂ’re not spectacular. You have two symbolic towers collapsing in New York, thatÂ’s news. That sells. And itÂ’s easier to convince people it could affect them all the way to Topeka, Kansas.Â” A top official from the French Ministry of Interior declared dur ing his interview: If someone crashes a plane into the Eiffel Tower tomorrow, weÂ’ll treat the scene as a plane crash. If a man goes into the metro and blows himself up, weÂ’ll dispatch police and emergency personnel. Nothing is a terrorist incident until you label it as such, but what does that change for the first response stage? Victims need to be treated, the scen e needs to be processed no matter who or why. If a building burns down, you send firefighters whether it is arson or an accidental fire, donÂ’t you? ItÂ’s the same with terrorism. We donÂ’t need to induce more chaos by frightening the population with terrorism rhetoric and spectacular media coverage. That would be like adding oil to the fi re Â– and it would certainly serve the purpose of the individual or group behind the attack or give ideas to other groups. We basically withhold as much information as we can during the investigation phase and do not overem phasize the human dimension of the political act. HizballahÂ’s Brand of Destruction As mentioned earlier, the first attack in the contemporary wave of suicide bombings occurred in the Middle East when th e Iraqi Embassy in Beirut was destroyed in December 1981 by pro-Iranian terrorists. In September 1982, the potential of suicide terrorism as an influential strategic politic al weapon was increased by the suicide-mission assassination of pro -Israeli Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel. The suicide bombing tactic was quickly transformed into a full-bl own geopolitical tool by Hizballah, the Iranbacked Lebanese Party of God, during the Lebanese Civil War. Hizballah claimed responsibility for the October 1983 Beirut barr ack attacks against French and U.S. troops, which led to the southward retreat of the Is raeli Defense Force (IDF) and prompted the
107 United States and France to withdraw thei r forces from Lebanon (Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). The systematic suicide attack campaign also forced Â“Israel to abandon most of the territorial and political gains made during [its] 1982 invasion of LebanonÂ” (Atran, 2004, August:2). By 1992, Hizballah Â“h ad dramatically lessened its strategic reliance on suicide bombing . when it decided to participate in parliamentary elections and become a Â‘mainstreamÂ’ political partyÂ” (Ibid.). LTTE Suicide Bombings and Sri Lankan Politics In Sri Lanka, the Liberation Tigers of Ta mil Eelam (LTTE), or Tamil Tigers, have consistently been the most prolific users of suicide bombings sin ce their first suicide attack in 1987. Although many will argue th at the LTTE terror campaign has been essentially unsuccessful at bri nging about the political change the Tamil Tigers have been fighting for for decades Â– the cr eation of an independent Tamil state Â– their suicide terror campaign has become a model and an inspiration for many groups across the globe. Sporadic acts of violence have been increas ingly documented in Sri Lanka since the late 2002 ceasefire. Since November 200 5, violence has in fact been rising in the rebel-held northeastern part of the island after LTTE leader Velupill ai Prabhakaran threatened to take up the struggle for a Tamil homeland agai n if the Sri Lankan government failed to attend to the LTTEÂ’s grievances. On Decem ber 25, 2005, pro-rebel Tamil legislator Joseph Pararajasingham was assa ssinated during midnight mass at a Christmas service in eastern Sri Lanka. Following the shooting, for which responsibility was not immediately claimed, a pro-LTTE Website, TamilNet posted a statement by a Tamil National Alliance parliamentarian placing the blame s quarely on the government. The official declared that Â“targeting key Tamil political actors to weaken the Tamil struggleÂ” was
108 typical of a state-sponsored action against the Tamils. He added, Â“This strategy will fail and in its wake will likely bring an unprecedented catastrophe to Sri Lanka.Â” Later that day, the Sri Lankan government responded in a similarly firm statement blaming the LTTE for assassinating one of its own suppor ters: Â“The LTTE, closely judged by the series of criminal acts being perpetrated in the northeast in recent few days, [was] desperately trying to divert the attention elsewhere and create mayhem and havoc while eschewing political discussions.Â” The build ing tension between the Tamil Tigers, the Tamil community, and the Sri Lankan govern ment may foreshadow a resurgence of violence, especially a multiplication of suicide bombings, and possibly a resumption of the civil war that tore the island apart fo r many years (see Van de Voorde, 2005; Van de Voorde & Mason, 2004). Chechen Suicide Bombing Operations Chechen suicide bombings did not occur unt il 2000: before that, the tactic was not once employed throughout the First Russo-Ch echen War (1994-1996) or during the first year of the second Russo-Chechen War. Two dozen such attacks have occurred since and this emergence of suicide bombings can be attributed to war-related cultural and demographic crises, extensive human rights violations by the Russian Forces against Chechen civilians, and the radicalization of the resistance forces that has followed. The October 2002 Moscow theater hostagetaking situation marked a turning point in the fight between Chechen rebels and the Russian govern ment. On October 23, 2002, three dozen Chechen rebels took control of a crowded theater and held over 700 people hostage. They threatened to execute th e hostages if their demands were not met, most notably the complete withdrawal of Russian forces from Chechnya. A two-and-a-
109 half-day siege followed and, on the morning of October 26, 2002, the theater was raided by the Spetsnaz, an elite commando unit of th e Federal Security Se rvice (FSB, former KGB). They pumped a powerful anesthetic gas into the structure and stormed the building. They proceeded to shoot all the rebels in the head at close range. The gas also killed 130 hostages, whereas two were killed by the hostage-takers, which means that Russian forces were eventually responsible for over sixty times as many hostage deaths as the Chechen rebels were. The Russian gove rnment backed the intervention despite the outcry it caused in the in ternational media and general public justifying it by the fact that the rebels had strapped explosive to themse lves and the only way to prevent suicide bombings, extensive structural damage and mass casualties was to take the terrorists out fast and by any means necessary. In September 2004, another highly-publicized hostage crisis took a disastrous turn when Russian police and soldiers intervened to put a stop to the situation in Beslan, Russia. Demanding the usual withdrawal of Russian troops from Chechnya, rebel leader Shamil Basayev and his fighters took hundred s of children and teachers hostage at a school on September 1, 2004. Three days late r, the building was stormed, 336 people were killed, and 747 were injured. Thirty-two terrorists were kill ed in the explosive standoff, including five women. All of them had been wearing expl osive belts and other devices. Regardless of the Â“imminent threatÂ” of suicide terrorism, the intervention of the Russian police and military was awfully criticized by the media, the public, and foreign governments, including the United States and many Western European countries. A parliamentary inquiry was launched after th e siege, especially following widespread accusations that the crime s cenes had been arranged by the authorities and evidence
110 destroyed to cover up the abuses and failures of the officials in charge. The final report is due in early 2006, but a preliminary repor t made available on December 28, 2005 puts the blame squarely on Russian security forces This has been a surprising development, since most people Â“assumed that a parliamentar y inquiry into the attack would play down public accusations that Russian police and soldiers were partly to blame for the deaths of hundreds of hostagesÂ” (Griffiths, 2005). However, the victims in Beslan still believe that blame will be avoided in the end and that th e officials responsible for the deadly siege will not be held accountable: I think that the parliamentary inquiry would like to disclose the truth, but I believe they will fail to do so. They will not dare do it because revealing the truth would implicate top official s, high echelons who are to blame, who let the situation go, w ho are corrupt. So, they will probably not dare give their names because of their high rank. (Ibid.) It is important to note th at religious extremism is almost nonexistent as a motivation for Chechen suicide terrorism, which appears to above all be Â“a strategic tacticÂ” and a political weapon be ing used Â“in an increasingly asymmetrical struggle with the RussiansÂ” (Reuter, 2004:2). The purpos e of the Chechen suicide bombing campaign is Â“to attract support while attempting to coerce Russia into leaving the ChechnyaÂ” (Ibid.). Hence the major objective of Chechen implementers of suicide bombings is Â“a combination of a genuine desire to liberate the Chechen homeland and the necessity to attract supporters, recognition, and funding to continue their effortsÂ” (2004:21). In 2003, the leader of the Chechen separatists Â“w arned that the Chechen opposition had enough strength, finance and resolution to keep on fighting for people's freedom until Chechnya was absolutely freeÂ” (Suicide, 2003). They vi ew suicide bombings as the most effective tool to achieve such goals while advancing th eir radical agendas. In cidentally, one of the
111 staunchest supporters of the Chechen rebel cause has been the United States (Horton, 2005). Â“Taking cues from the Â‘successfulÂ’ suic ide campaigns of Hezbollah, Hamas, and Al-Qaeda, Chechen extremists came to view su icide terrorism as their last best optionÂ” (Reuter, 2004:21). Nonetheless, there has been a decline in Chechen suicide bombing operations since 2004. On the one hand, human rights abuses have decreased in both amount and frequency. On the other hand, analysts argue, it is possi ble that Â“calculating implementers realized that suicide terroris m was not achieving the ambitious goals that they had envisionedÂ” (Reuter, 2004:21). The London Bombings and European Politics Another recent example of the use Â– and re lative success Â– of suicide terrorism as a political weapon can be found in the su icide bombings that occurred in London, England on July 11, 2005. The four coordi nated bombings targ eted the public transportation infrastructure, namely the underg round network (first th ree attacks) and the bus system (fourth bombing). They killed 56 people and injured more than 700. Of the four bombers involved, three were Britons. Th e attacks have been blamed on al-Qaeda, which had previously public ly threatened the United Kingdom in widely broadcast speeches attacking the British government for being a key member of the group of countries supporting the U.S.-led invasion a nd occupation of Iraq, also known as the Â“Coalition of the Willing.Â” Osama bin Laden once stated: Â“We reserve the right to retaliate at the appropriate time and place against all countries involved, especially Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland, Japan, and Italy.Â”
112 These suicide attacks were all the more si gnificant as they were followed ten days later by an attempt at anothe r series of five bombings in central London, which proved unsuccessful. As the bombers eluded the police, a manhunt was launched and panic spread throughout the populat ion. People feared more bombings would happen and, via the media, began to pressure Prime Minister Blair to pull troops out of Iraq. Security alerts reached their highest level thro ughout the United Kingdom and elsewhere in Europe. The London attacks compounded the social and geopolitical consequences of the ten coordinated train bombings of March 2004 in Madrid, Spain, which have the highest toll of all European bombings thus far in terms of dead and injured (the Madrid bombings, which have been attributed to al-Q aeda, had a direct impact on the outcome of the Spanish general elections that month a nd prompted the new government to pull all Spanish troops out of Iraq). Thus the L ondon bombings illustrate the main political objective of the uses of suicide terrorism: to combat (and ideally bring to an end) the foreign occupation of oneÂ’s homeland or sacred land. Iraq is located in what used to be Mesopotamia, the Cradle of Humanity, and pa rt of the Arabian Peninsula, which is a Holy Land for Muslim. Suicide Terrorism as a Communication Tool Suicide bombings are a spectacular weapon in the arsenal of terrorist groups today more than ever. We are in a media-satura ted era where global communication networks make it possible to spread news of suicide te rror attacks across the world in a matter of seconds. Â“Propaganda by deedÂ” has taken a whole new global meaning now that groups can easily promote their agenda s and share their accomplishmen ts via satellite television,
113 the Internet, and more high-end technological tools. As one of the Interp ol representatives put it in his interview: Terrorist groups have grown intern ational by cleverly networking around the world, with supporters, sympathizer s, and other groups alike. They have created a web that enables them to find well-wishers, new recruits, financial assistance, or popular suppor t far away from their base. Look at Al-Qaeda, for instance, or the LTTE. They started out as small groups fighting for a specific cause within a specific region or against a specific ideology. Today, they are international organizations with roots in several countries and tens of thousands of supporters worldwide. All of that happened because they have mastered the use of the mass media, particularly the news and the Internet to serve their purpose. Same thing with the Chechens. They came out of nowhere and became media icons thanks to their constant use of tele vision and newspapers to spread their message against the Russian occupation. Indeed, Chechen separatist leaders have repeatedly used the media, including the Website of the Chechen-Press news agency, to call upon the interna tional community to interfere into the c onflict in Chechnya (Suicide, 2003; Reuter, 2004). They have also exploited the strategic advantage presented by female suicide bombers to cause greater psychological harm on their targeted audience and Â“attract more publicity and attentionÂ” (Reuter, 2004:27), as evidenced by the s udden increase in the summer of 2003 of international media coverage of female su icide bombings. The Chechen suicide bombing campaign thus illustrates the potential uses of the violent tactic as a communication tool. Overview of Media Coverage of Suicide Bombings The suicide attack method, favored to this day by military and paramilitary groups, was introduced to the general public during World War II, when Japanese kamikaze pilots crashed their airplanes into Allied military targets. The first use of the phrase Â“suicide bombingÂ” in the news can be traced back to an August 1940 New York Times article about World War II German milita ry tactics. In March 1942, the same
114 newspaper ran an article about Japanese troop s that had tried to carry out a Â“suicide bombingÂ” against a U.S. carrier. In August 1945, the London Times described a kamikaze plane as a Â“suicide bomb.Â” In April 1947, re ferred to a new type of radio-controlled missile in those terms: Â“designed original ly as a counter-measure to the Japanese Â‘suicide-bomber,Â’ it is now a potent weapon for defence or offence.Â” The use of the expression Â“suicide bombi ngÂ” in its current context dates back to 1981, when the Associated Press introduced it in relation to the fi rst attack of the contemporary wave of suicide bombings: the December 15, 1981 car-bomb destruction of the Iraqi Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, which kill ed 61 people. It was then used heavily to describe and analyze two major events of the Lebanese Civil War: the April 1983 U.S. Embassy bombing perpetrated by Hizballah in Beirut, as well as the October 1983 barrack attacks against U.S. Marines and French Paratroop ers who were part of the international peacekeeping corps. These bom bings claimed over 300 lives and left hundreds of people injured. Since the mid-1980s, suicide bombings have become prime weapons in the arsenal of guerrilla, in surgent, and terrorist groups. Sr i Lanka and the Middle East, as explained earlier, have been pivotal regions for the development of the deadly tactic. Sri Lanka, however, has not received nearly as much coverage in the news or official policy as the Middle East, especially in recent years. Although the LTTE (Tamil Tigers) were the main users of suicide bombings in th e world until 2001 (in term s of both number of attacks and death toll), little to no attention has been paid to their terrorist campaign in the Western news media or official policy. They are never part of any Â“Global War on TerrorÂ” speech and barely make the news when a bombing or any LTTE-related incident
115 occurs. In fact, although the transnational or ganization has been listed as an FTO by the U.S. Department of State (in contradiction with the policies of other Western countries), it is not referred to as terrorist in U.S. news The Tamil Tigers, including the Black Tigers of the suicide bombing squad, are typically described more neutrally or positively as Â“separatists,Â” Â“fighters,Â” Â“attackers,Â” Â“rebelsÂ” or Â“truce violators.Â” As a top-ranking U.S. military officer stressed in his interview, Words have an amazing power. We calle d them terrorists while they call themselves freedom fighters. Israelis call suicide bombings mass murder or crimes against humanity, whereas Pa lestinians argue that Â‘martyrs donÂ’t commit murder.Â’ We consider the Tam il Tigers Â‘rebelsÂ’ because they are in Sri Lanka and our intere sts in the area are limite d to nonexistent, but in Iraq we fight the Â‘War on TerrorÂ’ against immoral suicide bombers who are hell bent on destroying freedom. Think about itÂ… Who in the United States would pay attention to news reports about suicide bombings by Hindu nationalists in Sri Lanka? Most people equate terrorism with Islamic extremists from the Middle-Eas t and, if it happens elsewhere like southeast Asia, it had to be perpet rated by Middle-Eastern fanatics. ItÂ’s going to be hard to shake that out of peopleÂ’s heads if they are bombarded with the wrong information in the media. Islamist terrorists do seem to have a monopoly on suicide bombi ngs Â– at least in todayÂ’s mainstream media and official policy. News coverage and governmental guidelines tend to have adopted a myopic vi sion of suicide terrorism that focuses predominantly Â– if not solely Â– upon radical Mu slims or Â“fundamentalists.Â” In particular, suicide bombings of the al-Aqs a Intifada and the Iraqi insu rgency have dominated the general, contemporary understanding of the c oncept of suicide terrorism. Although these have been the most frequent and cumula tively damaging bombings since 2000, they certainly should not obscure th e significant global patterns and worldwide dynamics of suicide terrorism. As emphasized by one of the intervie wees, a French anti-terrorism agent:
116 Of course, there is a problem with Islamic militants. Of course, there are growing issues throughout the Islamic world that ought not to be ignored. However, suicide terrorism is not about Islamic world domination. There are non-Muslim groups that have us ed this technique for years Â–and successfully so in some cases, as shown by the LTTE. People need to be very careful in their appraisal of wh at suicide terrorism entails. Once you have labeled a certain group of people Â‘evi lÂ’ or Â‘crazy terrorists,Â’ as is the case with Muslim extremists in West ern politics and in our mass media, you end up stigmatizing an entire population and you exacerbate tensions between people who basically donÂ’t know anything about each otherÂ’s religions or cultures. The media Â– whet her in the US or Western Europe Â– always portray the Â‘evil IslamistsÂ’ as the perpetrators of suicide bombings. First in Israel, now in Iraq. They ne ver really focus on the source of the problem: why suicide bombings are cons idered by their perpetrators and supporters to be legitimate weapons in a war where using conventional tactics and strategies is simply impossible. The Media as Publicity Agents Television Â– both traditional networks and sa tellite television Â– is a primary tool for communication between te rrorist groups, the media, governments, and the general public. Â“Suicide bombing is, after all, perfec tly suited to the television ageÂ” (Brooks, 2002). Newspapers are also often used by te rrorist groups to relay messages to the general public or other members of the orga nization. For example, in recent years, Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev has repe atedly used the mass media in order to arouse public awareness of the Chechen cause and the state-sponsored acts of violence committed by the Russian military against the Chechen population. In 2002, during the Moscow theater hostage crisis mentioned above, Basayev issued the following videorecorded statement through the news media: Every nation has the right to their fa te. Russia has taken away this right from the Chechens and today we want to reclaim these rights, which God has given us, in the same way he ha s given it to other nations. God has given us the right of freedom and the right to choose our destiny. And the Russian occupiers have flooded our land with our children's blood. And we have longed for a just solution. People are unaware of the innocent
117 who are dying in Chechnya: the sheikhs the women, the children and the weak ones. And therefore, we have chos en this approach. This approach is for the freedom of the Chechen people and there is no difference in where we die, and therefore we have deci ded to die here, in Moscow. And we will take with us the lives of hundreds of sinners. If we die, others will come and follow usÂ—our brothers and si sters who are willing to sacrifice their lives, in God's way, to liberat e their nation. Our nationalists have died but people have said that the y, the nationalists, are terrorists and criminals. But the truth is Russia is the true criminal. Using the media can be an excellent tool for propaganda and pub licity in general. Osama Bin Laden has been consistently portray ed in Western news as a universal threat to the very fabric of our free society. In th e spring of 2003, one of the interviewees in TurkeyÂ’s Ministry of Interior declared: Bin Laden is going to take over airwav es one way or another. Since the September 11 attacks, he has been om nipresent already, in news coverage, special media reports, and with vide o and audio tapes of his messages. That is not going to stop. The repe rcussions on September 11 are going to be felt for many years, even if another spectacular attack against American interests happens. The media will not let go of a story like that one. The government, President Bush will not eith er. He is going to play with the global fear of insecurity, inflate it, di sseminate it with the help of the mass media, and probably get re-elected becau se of all that. The invasion of Iraq is a bonus. It shows the U.S. is activ ely doing something to fight terrorism. In reality, however, none of it is tr ue. They are fighting the wrong people in the wrong region, but the public does not see that. They see action and initiative: that is enough for them. Within the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Â“Palestinian and Arabic regional media outlets have followed the events of the Israeli-Pales tinian clashes closely, and the degree of media coverage reflects the immense impact that the clashes have had on Palestinian and Arab societyÂ” (Human Rights Watch, 2002:36). Palestinian media outlets have been accused of actively encour aging support for suicide bombings. Â“Israeli and other critics have argued that the Palest inian media contribute to suicide attacks on civilians by placing an inappropriate, comme ndatory emphasis on martyrdomÂ” (Ibid.).
118 Due to curfews and limitations on movement in the Occupied Territories, Â“the importance of media Â– and part icularly television Â– as the primary source of public information has increasedÂ” (Ibid.). Farewell or last-will videos made by the bombers Â“provide compelling footage, as do the in terviews with families. The bombings themselves produce graphic images of body parts and devastated buildingsÂ” (Brooks, 2002). In effect, Â“vast segments of Palestin ian culture have been given over to the creation and nurturing of suicide bombers Martyrdom has replaced Palestinian independence as the main focus of the Arab mediaÂ” (Ibid.). Then there are the Â‘weddingsÂ’ betwee n the martyrs and dark-eyed virgins in paradise (announcements that read like wedding invitations are printed in local newspapers so that frie nds and neighbors can join in the festivities), the marches and celebra tions after each attack, and the displays of things bought with the cash rewards to the families. Woven together, these images make gripping packages that can be aired again and again. (Ibid.) Recruitment videos made by terrorist groups are also broadcast by certain networks. In early July 2 005, the Al-Arabiya television network aired a segment Â“showing an Iranian suicide bomber recruiter driveÂ” (Nahmias, 2005a). In the short piece, the Iranian Movement of Martyrdom Seekers declared it had Â“40,000 Â‘time bombsÂ’ ready to attack [and] carry out suicide bombings in Israel and the United StatesÂ” (Ibid.). Numerous Iranian youths can be seen training in a camp. Â‘This is our choice and we have no f ear,Â’ a masked woman told a reporter from Al-Arabiya. Â‘We adhere to the legacy of our late leader, Imam Khomeini.Â’ Â‘There is no God but Allah!Â’ s hout a group of women, covered in hijabs, in unison. Â‘These young women have forsaken th e temptations of life, and have chosen the hard way. Indeed, they have chosen martyrdom as a way of liberating Islamic lands,Â’ says th e Al-Arabiya reporter. Â‘40,000 time
119 bombs in Iran Â– this is the number of volunteers so far, and the registration is still open.Â’ (Ibid.) On July 26, 2005, Iran publicly acknowledged it was running an official Â“suicide columnÂ” program with full-blown training camps within its borders and actively recruiting members of public to become suicide bombers across the country (Nahmias, 2005b). Officials of the Iranian government ha d denied for many years any involvement in suicide bomber recruiting or training activit ies. The President of Iran himself has since openly glorified suicide bombers. An ar ticle published in the London-based daily Asharq Al Awsat reported that senior Ir anian leader Ayatollah Muha mmad Taki Misbah Yazari, a spiritual counselor of President Muha mmad Ahmadinejad, had used an Iranian newspaper to call on the Iranian public Â“to jo in the swelling ranks of IranÂ’s homegrown suicide bombersÂ” (Ibid.). The message read as follows: Suicide operations are the peak of the nation, and th e height of its bravery . Commander Khamani has announced that registration for the suicide bomber force is open all over the coun try, and encourages Iranians to join in order to safeguard Islam and fi ght against its enemies. This holy organization of the Islamic Republic is aimed at those w ho are interested in suicide. The volunteer will join specialist courses. Brothers and sisters who believe and are interested in de fending Islam are invited to get in touch via P.O. Box Number 1653-664, Te heran, and are asked to send two photos, a copy of their birth certificate. Please enlist in th e suicide squad. The suicide organization, Zaytoon, was crea ted in early 2005 Â“for men and women who wished to carry out suicide bombings agai nst the enemies of Islam and the Iranian revolution -in particular, the Americans, British, and IsraelisÂ” as well as Â“Arab and Muslim countries . considered friends of the United StatesÂ” (Ibid .). It is purportedly headed by Elias Nedran, who is the leader of the parliamentary conservative bloc and a former intelligence officer in IranÂ’s Revol utionary Guard Corps. Zaytoon has already
120 held several rallies, which have each been attended by hundreds of men and women usually between the ages of 14 and 30. During one of these meetings, Ayatollah Yazari, who is firmly opposed to Iranian reformers, Â“emphasized the need to volunteer rapidly and to attend specialist training courses which enable members to carry out suicide bombings in Iraq and other areas, including Is raelÂ” (Ibid.). What the many volunteers are usually told is that Â“the gates of heaven are open for you; there are beautiful, black-eyed virgins there who are waiting for you on the banks of golden riversÂ” (Ibid.). More recently, Iran also made intern ational news following the October 28, 2005 broadcast of an animated movie on how to become a suicide bomber. The ten-minute graphic cartoon was shown as an after-sc hool special on IranÂ’s IRIB 3TV channel (MEMRITV, 2005). It illustrates recent efforts by certain grou ps, including religious ones in Palestine and secular ones such as the LTTE in Sri Lanka, to actively recruit children to join the ranks of the suicide bombers. Like women, children present tactical and strategic advantages that ar e not lost to terrorists. The Use of the Internet The World Wide Web has been used fo r years by terrorist groups and antiterrorist organizations alike. The former us e its openness and inst antaneous global reach to get their message to millions of people ac ross the globe, to recruit, advertise, and otherwise communicate about their cause. The latt er use the Internet in order to track the activities of known or supposed terroris ts around the world, be it Â“propaganda,Â” recruiting activities, fundraising, secret co mmunications via e-mail or instant messenger (Â“increased chatterÂ”), and so on.
121 The Internet is also a fertile ground for pol itical satire and is commonly used to disseminate political caricatures and various forms of cartoons, images, and skits. For instance, a Website called strangemilitary.com features a parody of a self-help book entitled Â“Jihad for Dummies: The Fundamental s of Fundamentalism,Â” the cover of which reads: Â“Thinking about SUIC IDE BOMBING? Get it right the FIRST time!Â” or Â“Learn how to declare your very own fatwa!Â” German carmaker Volkswagen recently used the Internet to advertise for its new Polo, usi ng the usual slogan Â“Sma ll but toughÂ” along with a less usual mainstream television ad prota gonist: a suicide bomber who detonates his bomb belt inside the Polo without anyone noticing his actions out side the car. Thus suicide bombers have entered the collective mind and are ta king root as popular icons even in Western culture. More seriously, Bin LadenÂ’s al-Qaeda network has become a global jihadist movement that has perfected the use of multimedia technology over the past few years. Some argue that it is now essentially Web-di rected and primarily steered by ideology and the Internet. The spread of jihadist rhetoric and Wa hhabist ideology has been significantly facilitated by the World Wi de Web. Al-QaedaÂ’s Â“online jihadÂ” has in essence provided a Â“virtual university of gl obal jihadÂ” (Pavlova, 2004). In recent years, al-Qaeda has used the Internet for fina ncing and publicity purposes, to organize recruitment, to network and m obilize further support, and to collect and share information somewhat effortlessly. Al-QaedaÂ’s many Webs ites, which appear and disappear in a matter of seconds, as well as va rious related promotional Inte rnet sites have been used notably to post audio messages by Osama bin La den and other leaders, so as to ensure their worldwide dissemination without editi ng. In August 2004, al-Qae da even created a
122 special Website for women, calling upon them Â“to persuade their men to take up the jihad. The pretty pink web site, which include d beauty tips, did not call on women to become bombersÂ” (Bloom, 2005c) and yet, within a year, female Al-Qaeda fighters began resorting to suicide bombings. The distinctive dynamics of the Intern et account for its widely popular use amongst jihadists today and fit within mo re general media globalization trends: The same forces that gave rise to the Al-Jazeera and the Al-Arabiya TV networks are at play with jihadist web sites worldwide. In contrast to the pre-September 11 pro-Bin Laden Intern et pages Â– the majority of which were hosted and maintained from with in Europe and the United States Â– the recent trend is that such web s ites are more Â‘localized.Â’ They are hosted in countries as far apart as Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Turkey, Bosnia, and Great Britain, a nd cater to domestic audiences on their respective languages. The second fact to be observed is the astounding technological advancement and professionalism of their authors and creators. Graphical design is put o maximum effect, and often pictures and videos Â– taken from thei r original web sites of appearance Â– are refurbished into new formats a nd styles to evoke utmost possible emotional response. (Pavlova, 2004) Film Portrayals of Suicide Bombers The Terrorist (1999) is an Indian fi lm directed and written by Santosh Sivan. Shot entirely in Tamil but not explicitly set in Sr i Lanka, it follows Malli, a hardcore 19-yearold female terrorist who suddenly has rese rvations about her suicide assassination mission and doubts the legitimacy of the ultimate sacrifice she has been asked to make. Beyond an aesthetic achievement, this film is a powerful portrayal of MalliÂ’s personal struggle, from joining the terrorist group as a child following the death of her young brother to her late te enage years. The story is neither apologetic nor po litically charged nor explicitly violent. Yet, the U.S. prom otional campaign for the film, which was based freely on the May 1991 assassination of Indi an Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi by the
123 LTTEÂ’s Thenmuli Â“DhanuÂ” Rajaratnam, describe s the heroine as Â“a natural born killerÂ” whose Â“death will not be ordinary.Â” The War Within (2005) is an American film dir ected by Joseph Castelo, who cowrote it with Tom Glynn and Ayad Akhtar. Akhtar also plays the main character, a Pakistani man who has a conscience crisis as he is about to carry out a suicide bombing in New York City. Another recent fe ature film on suicide bombings, Paradise Now (2005), tells the story of Said and Khale d, two Palestinian childhood friends who are recruited to carry out a su icide bombing in Tel Aviv. The controversial film, which follows the last two days of the young men and delves into the psyche of suicide bombers, was directed by Palestinian and Is raeli-born director Hany Abu-Assad, who cowrote the screenplay with Bero Beyer and Pierre Hodgson. So far, the Arabic-language film has received nominations for several pr izes and won 9 major awards, including the Amnesty International Film Prize at the 2005 Be rlin International F ilm Festival and the 2006 Golden Globe for Best Foreign Langua ge Film. Interesti ngly, the latter was awarded under the category Â“Pal estineÂ” even though the film was officially produced by France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Israel. Many have argued that Paradise Now Â– much like the two movies mentioned above Â– humanizes suicide bombers and is nothing more than a propaganda tool. On the other hand, film critic Roger Ebert (2005) argues: On his video, Said articulates th e Palestinian position, expressing anger that the Israelis have stolen the stat us of victims he believes belongs by right to his own people. Does this speech make the film propaganda, or does it function simply as a record of what such a man would say on such an occasion? I'm not sure it matters. If we are interested in a film that takes us into the lives of suicide bombers, we must be prepared to regard what we find there. Certainly what Said says will not come as a surprise to any Israeli. It's simply that they disagree.
124 We may disagree, too, and yet watch the film with a fearsome fascination. The director and co-w riter, Hany Abu-Assad, uses the interesting device of undercutting the heroism of his martyrs with everyday details. During one taping of a farewell message, the camera malfunctions. During another, one of the bombers interrupts his political sermon with a personal shopping reminder for his mother. . It hardly matters, in a way, which side Abu-Assad's protagonists are on; the film is dangerous because of its objectivity, its dispassionate attention to the actual practical pr ocess by which volunteers are trained and prepared for the act of destruction. These three independent films have in co mmon the fact that they put a face on the suicide bombers and show us their human features and humane qualities. They also illustrate the utter lack of suicidality (suicide attempts or ideation) of the bombers. Each one focuses on the uncertainties and doubts of suicide bombers, thus indeed humanizing them. However, though they avoid demonizing the terrorists, they do not glorify the martyrs either. If anything, Â“t hat creates not sympathy, but pi ty; what a waste, to spend your life and all your future on behalf of those who send you but do not go themselvesÂ” (Ibid.). An even more recent film hailing from th e United States is Stephen GaghanÂ’s Syriana (2005), a Â“politically-charg ed epic about the state of the oil industryÂ” based on a Robert Baer book (IMDb, 2005). The reason why this movie stands out is that it is the first to fully integrate the suic ide bomber at the core of the narrative. This introduction of suicide terrorism as a major plotline in a big-budget Hollywood production marks a milestone in the global entertainment enterp rise. The film has received much praise already, but its shortcomings have also dr awn criticism. Ventura (2005) argues that Â“ Syriana offers American audiences a peek into the insidious work of fundamentalism on
125 the idle minds. . While c ontextualizing the roots of di scontent is a worthy goal, the movie does so at the expense of she dding light on true fanaticism.Â” Moral Panics and the Politicization of Suicide Terrorism Suicide terrorism has been described as Â“the crack cocaine of warfareÂ” (Brooks, 2002), a metaphor reminiscent of the pungent rh etoric used in the Â“War on Drugs.Â” It doesnÂ’t just inflict death and te rror on its victims; it intoxicates the people who sponsor it. It unleashes th e deepest and most addictive human passions Â– the thirst for vengeance, th e desire for religious purity, the longing for earthly glory and eternal salvation. Suicide bombing isnÂ’t just a tactic in a larger war; it overwhelm s the political goals it is meant to serve. It creates its own logic and transforms the culture of those who employ it. (2002:18) The occurrence of suicide terrorism, the signification of su icide bombings as a particularly violent and perv asive threat, the wider social implications that have galvanized public attention, and the measures of social contro l that have been adopted to seek resolution of the crisis and greater so cietal malaise Â– all of these correspond to stages of moral panics propagated by the me dia and resulting in sweeping policy reforms to make the public feel empowered, safe, and satisfied. Major findings concerning the interpretation of, overreaction to, and politic ization of suicide te rrorism are described below. Suicide Bombers as Contemporary Folk Devils Suicide bombers are usually depicted in the media and public policy as irrational individuals, crazed fanatics, immoral cowa rds, socially inadequate, economically deprived, religious zealots, and suicidal young men who have been brainwashed by evil Islamists to carry out suicide missions. The complex reality of suic ide bombers and their motivations is mostly ignored. These issues are further discussed below. One of the
126 Turkish scholars interviewed in mid-2004 fo r the G-CDMHA project described the issue in these terms: Suicide bombings are publicized in a ve ry specific way in Western media. The reports almost always provide the same image of the deranged terrorist, the fanatic, the lunatic who had nothing to lose and everything to win Â– namely, money for his family, et ernal life and virgins for himself. This is wrong. Completely wrong. It is a simplistic portrayal that perpetuates stereotypes and miscon ceptions about suicide bombings. However, it is acceptable from a political standpoint because it fits the ongoing agenda of the self-proclaimed number one country in the world. How are you going to fuel fears about terrorism and further justify a Â‘global war on terrorÂ’ if you start broadcasting reports that try to really decipher what lies behind the ac t. Most people would think that decomposing motivation and analyzing the persona of the bomber could somehow justify the act in the eyes of some people. God forbid we humanize those evil people! They mu st be portrayed as mad, pitiless, heartless, cold-blooded killers with nothing to live for. They are the contemporary demons, the Â‘evilÂ’ empire that must be fought by the joined forces of the Â‘goodÂ’ coalition. That is what it boils down to, in U.S. politics, in the media, in the public Â’s mind: a war between Good and Evil. That is quite clever, you must admit, although not very original. First, it sells news and that means ratings and money for media corporations, especially the ones that side with Bush. Second, it justifies going after a group or its sponsors as swiftly and as hard as possible. People want retaliation, people want justice done. Th at is not going to happen if you paint a meek picture of terrorists. Yo u have to exploit their actions, beat them at their own game, fire up everyone to Â‘go and get them.Â’ You have to exaggerate the threat to make sure people get scared about the Â‘scourgeÂ’ of terrorism, the Â‘epidemicÂ’ of suic ide bombings. Once they feel really unsafe because of your radi cal talk, you can have them blindly agree to or condone any kind of measure, even the most extreme ones like the use of the atomic bomb in 1945, the war in Iraq today, nuclear war in the future Â– who knows? Typical profile of a suicide bomber. On December 12, 1983, the French and U.S. Embassies in Kuwait City were partially dest royed by suicide truck bombs that killed 6 and injured dozens of people. Then a suic ide bomber used a truck bomb and killed 15 people at a French Army building in Beirut on December 21, 1983. On December 26, 1983, Newsweek published the following ill-fated commentary:
127 Experts in Israel, which has been su bject to suicide terrorism for more than a decade, believe the threat is not likely to spread beyond the Middle East. The Israelis have drawn a ps ychological profile of the suicide terrorist based on an analysis of more than a dozen who survived their high-risk attacks on Israel, as well as a study of World War II Japanese kamikaze strikes. Several characte ristics stand out. Guerrillas who undertake certain-death missions tend to have a cultural predisposition to view suicide as an honorable way of entering the afterlife, and more importantly, a psychopathological desire to die. Those elements must be set into play by indoctrination from a highly respected authority figure. Ayatollah KhomeiniÂ’s revolutionary Iran would seem to be a perfect breeding ground for such terrorists. Acco rding to Israeli findings, the more time that elapses between the terroristÂ’s last exhortation and his arrival at the target, the less likely he is to act Even a determined terrorist can drop his plans under the impact of such simple culture shock as landing at a faraway airport. One Israeli specialist predicts that Â‘there will be more suicide strikes against the Americans and French in the Middle East, but not many. There is still less danger that there will be attacks overseas.Â’ (Gelman, 1983) Since then, suicide terrorism has spread overseas in a spectacular fashion, from Israel to Indonesia, Kenya to Turkey, Tan zania to England and Morocco Â– and even the United States. The desire has been strong to categorize suicide te rrorists into certain deviant types, not necessarily to help unders tand their motivations and actions but to at least make their castigation easier. Typologies of suicide bombers have been developed primarily to describe Palestinian suicide bombers acting against Israel. One such typology was recently developed for the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies (Kimhi & Even, 2003) and rather inopportunely extende d to non-Palestinian suicide bombers by (amongst others) the U.S. military (U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, 2005). The classification distinguishes between f our prototypes: the re ligious fanatic, the nationalist fanatic, the avenge r or revenge seeker, and th e exploited. To each type correspond certain prerequisites, supporti ng factors, and hypothetical dominant
128 personality traits (Table 8). These four profiles are adequate summaries of the ways that suicide bombers are systematically port rayed in the media and public policy. Table 8 Kimhi & EvenÂ’s Classification of Suicide Bomber Prototypes and their Correlates Prototype Prerequisites Supporting Factors Hypothetical Personality Traits Religious Fanatic Religious indoctrination encouraging and urging suicide attacks Charismatic religious leaders with great influence on candidates for suicide operations Sympathetic public atmosphere within the religious community that praises martyrs, which includes publicity, great honor, and commemoration Faithful, steadfast, goalfocused, belief in divinely determined fate, influenced by people whom s/he reveres, belief in the world to come Nationalist Fanatic Well-developed political consciousness, along with a sense of an uncompromising struggle to liberate the homeland A clear feeling that the armed struggle and suicide attacks are an effective and necessary weapon in achieving political goals Participation of the organization to which the individual belongs in the suicide attack Sympathetic public atmosphere that praises the sacrifice Media that ensures wide coverage both in local community and internationally Steadfast, sure in his/her ways, willing to sacrifice him/herself for the general public (idealist) Avenger Psychological injury based on one or more of the following events: Death or serious injury of a family member or another close individual Trauma related to foreign occupation of homeland (personal humiliation, or witnessing the humiliation of a relative) Personal or family problems resulting in an individualÂ’s feeling that his or her life is worthless (culminating in or including depression) Sympathetic public atmosphere that praises the martyrs, which includes publicity of names, great honor, and commemoration Financial support for the family of the deceased suicide terrorist Hopeless, vengeful, tendency to see their life as worthless Exploited Suicide terrorists who are unable to withstand the organizationÂ’s pressures to Â“volunteerÂ” for a suicide operation, such as: Children and youth Adults in social distress (collaborators, homosexuals, moral offenders) People with weak personalities Sympathetic public atmosphere that praises the martyrs Suicide terroristsÂ’ belief that all their sins will become Â“white as snowÂ” and that they will be granted full atonement for their past Dependent, anxious, difficulty withstanding pressure, recognition seeking
129 On the evening of October 1, 2005, a Univer sity of Oklahoma (OU) engineering student strapped explosives to himself a nd detonated them 500 feet away from the campus stadium in Norman, Oklahoma, which was filled with 84,000 college football supporters. The bomb blast shook the stadiu m and was heard five miles away. The bomber, Joel Henry Hinrichs III, was a 21-yea r-old white male who did not fit the typical profile of the average suicid e bomber. The case, officially described by the Norman police as a suicide bombing, was reportedly i nvestigated by Homeland Security, but then quickly dropped from newscasts. As it turns out, the young man, originally from Colorado, had tried to purchase ammonium nitr ate, the same kind of fertilizer used in April 1995 by Timothy McVeigh to destroy a federal building in Oklahoma City. Hinrichs, who had a Pakistani roommate, had apparently converted to Islam and attended the same Norman mosque as Zaca rias Moussaoui, the so-called Â“20th hijackerÂ” of the September 11, 2001 attacks. Speculations abou t the motivation of the young man and his possible ties to an Islamist network at OU and in the greater Norman area were widespread in the local media following the bombing. Muslim students and citizens were targeted by law enforcement (including the FBI) and others in the community. The situation and related rumors worsened afte r local police and federal agents handcuffed and held at gunpoint an Egyptian OU instructor and several other fore ign individuals. To this day, the case has not been clearly el ucidated. However, Hinrichs has been consistently described by the media and local authorities as a Â“lonerÂ” who was Â“deeply depressed.Â” His suicide has now been classified as an Â“individual act of despair.Â” The Hinrichs case, as many others, is re presentative of the discrepancy between the reality of suicide bombings and the interpretation of suicide terrorism by the media
130 and agents of social control. Media reports and political agendas are focused on a virulent Middle Eastern brand of suicide terrorism that entails religious extremism and irrational, delusional, brainwashed bomber s with nothing to live for. The public has been sensitized to perceive suicide bombers as Â“unbalan ced sociopathsÂ” and Â“ uneducated religious fanaticsÂ” (Bloom, 2005c). The media and politic al actors neglect the fact that suicide bombings have no necessary connection to Islam and that bombers are by and large Â“upper-middle class, well-educated, successf ul, socially connected people who know exactly what they are doingÂ” and who Â“give their lives to kill people as part of a strategic campaign aimed at the people of the West, to turn us against our governments, and to force them to end the occupatio ns and protectionsÂ” (Horton, 2005). The use of women in suicide bombing missions. The Syrian Socialist National Party (SSNP), a pro-Syrian, Lebanese secular terrorist group, was the first group to use a female suicide bomber, seventeen-year-old Sa naÂ’a Mehaydali, agai nst an Israeli convoy in Lebanon in 1985. The SSNP soon became responsib le for a total twelve suicide attacks Â– five of which were carrie d out by women. Female bomber s increasingly appeared in others parts of the globe after the mid-1980s including in Sri Lanka (most notably with the 1991 assassination of Rajiv Gandhi by a teen aged female Tamil Tiger), Turkey, Israel and the occupied territories, Egypt, Mo rocco, Pakistan, Chechnya, and now Iraq. 34 percent of the suicide bombi ngs carried out since 1985 have been perpetrated by women (Gunaratna, 2000; Bloom, 2005c). Â“Most have belonged to secular separatist organizations, such as the LTTE and the Ku rdistan WorkersÂ’ Party (PKK)Â” (Bloom, 2005b). In fact, only secular groups such as the SSNP, the LTTE or the PKK initially recruited and used female bom bers for suicide missions. In recent years, however, Â“the
131 worrisome emergence of women suicide bombe rs in religious organizationsÂ” has been observed (Bloom, 2005b). The role of Palestinian women in suicid e terror campaigns has now been strongly established, especially within the context of the al-Aqsa Intifada where they became known as the Â“Army of RosesÂ” (Dickey, 2005; Vi ctor, 2003). The first Palestinian female suicide bomber, Wafa Idris, struck in Je rusalem in January 2002. More than 20 cases involving women have thus far been documented (they constitute about 5 percent of all attacks). As explained by Israeli security forces: The terrorist organizations behind the attacks want to exploit the advantages of dispatching females to perpetrate them, primarily within the Green Line. This is under the assumpti on that a female is thought of as soft, gentle, and innocent and therefor e will arouse less suspicion than a man. In the cases in which females were involved, the terrorists were aware of their need for camouflage that would help them blend in on the Israeli street. The female terrorists attempted to Westernize their appearance, among other things wearing clothing that was not conservative, such as short skirts, or maternity clothes, and having modern haircuts. (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2003b) These women typically Â“do not fit the accepted image of the Â‘average Palestinian womanÂ’Â” (Ibid.) or, for that ma tter, that of the average suicide bomber. They come from a variety of economic and social backgrounds, th ey are often well-educated, and some are mothers with children. The motivational patterns of these women typically fit the Â“avengerÂ” type described above, though most media reports focus on women being exploited, coerced, and otherwise blackmaile d to Â“volunteerÂ” for suicide missions. Teenage girls especially have been the focus on much media and official scrutiny, since they have been used increasingly as recruiters or facilitators and appe ar to be even more
132 personally, emotionally, and soci ally vulnerable than adult women (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2003a). The majority of Chechen suicide bombers are women. 68 percent of attacks involve women and 50 percent of all attacks are carried out exclusively by female bombers. They have been dubbed the Â“Black WidowsÂ” and have effectively altered the face of female suicide terrorism over the past five years (Bloom, 2005c; Dickey, 2005; Reuter, 2004). Their prevalence has been e xplained by a combination of factors: the tactical advantage of their lo w suspiciousness level, the pub licityand attention-driven strategic element derived from the Â“greater psychological impact on th e target audience,Â” and Â“the main undercurrent of the broade r suicide terrorism phenomenon in ChechnyaÂ” linked to Â“desperation and hopele ssnessÂ” and Â“feelings of help less angerÂ” or anxiety that are Â“easily exploited by recruitersÂ” (Reuter, 2004). Since they target mainly Russian objectives, their suicide bombings have not r eceived much coverage in the Western news media. Nonetheless, the Black Widows of Chechnya have become an Â“example among heroines of jihadÂ” and Â“an important factor in the spread of suicidal terrorÂ” (Dickey, 2005). The tales of these Chechen women are as much about tawdry victimization as battlefield heroics. They come from a rugged society where an old tradition, made worse after years of gunslinging war and anarchy, allows men to kidnap the br ide of their choice. The kidnappers can settle disputes with the womanÂ’s fa mily in cash, or with violence. . [O]nce sheÂ’s been taken, sheÂ’s unlik ely to find another husband. Â‘No intelligent, nice young man in Chechnya would marry a nonvirgin girl.Â’. . Some Chechen women who have lost husbands or sons in the war want to live only long enough to take revenge. The first a ttack by a Â‘black widow,Â’ in the summer of 2000, killed 27 members of the Russian Special Forces. Then the spectral, silent presence of 18 Â‘widowsÂ’ during the deadly hostage siege of a Moscow theater in 2002 heightened their mystique. Over a four-month period in 2003, Chechen women carried out
133 six out of seven suicide attacks on Ru ssian targets, killing 165 people. Women bombers allegedly brought down two Russian airliners last year, killing all 90 passenge rs and crew. (Ibid.) These two brands of suicide bombings Â– the Palestinian version and the Chechen type Â– illustrate a significant characteristic of the peculiar ra tionale for the involvement of Muslim women in suicide attacks. Â“The underlying message conveyed by female bombers is: Terrorism has moved beyond a fr inge phenomenon and insurgents are all around youÂ” (Dickey, 2005). Moreover, as explained by Bloom (2005c): What is so compelling about why wome n become suicide bombers is that so many claimed to have been raped or sexually abused by enemy forces, according to interviews with those who knew them. Once dishonored, they are no longer marriageable. Joining a terrorist group is one of the few remaining options for women who, acco rding to the strict honor code followed in some Islamic societies, must otherwise be executed by their own families. With their deaths they reinvent themselves as martyrs, redeeming the family name and recouping lost honor. In early November 2005, a young white woman and Islam convert from Belgium made international news when she blew hers elf up in Baghdad. Described both as a Â“girl next doorÂ” and Â“an Islamic extremist,Â” Muri el Degauque Â“achieved a grim milestone by becoming the first female European conve rt to commit a suicide bombing in IraqÂ” (Rotella, 2005). According to one article in the Los Angeles Times (Ibid.), The 36-year-old woman died Nov. 9 in the car bombing of a U.S. military convoy after traveling with her Moroccan-born husband to Iraq to join other foreign fighters in a networ k led by militant kingpin Abu Musab Zarqawi. . Investigators said the in cident illustrated the gr owing role of converts and women in EuropeÂ’s increasingly fierce and violent Islamic networks. It also apparently is the first su icide bombing anywhere by a female Islamic convert of European descent. The added significance of the Degauque incident is that it prompted Newsweek to publish a well-timed special report entitled Â“Women of Al QaedaÂ” on December 12, 2005
134 (Dickey, 2005) the first not able attempt by a mainstream news media outlet at a thorough analysis of th e participation of women in su icide bombings. The report opens with the following statement: Jihad used to have a gender: male. The men who dominated the movement exploited traditional attitudes about sex and the sexes to build their ranks. They still do that, but with a differe nce: even Al Qaeda is using female killers now, and goading the men. (Ibid.) The report reviews the evolution of fema le suicide bombings over the past two decades, from its SSNP origins to its pe rfection by the LTTEÂ’s Black Tigers and including the Palestinian Army of Roses and the Chechen Black Widow bombings. It offers insight into the motiv ations of female bombers in the global Islamist terrorist network, notably with regard to women and the promise of an afterlife. Reem Riashi, a mother of two, recorded a videotape before her mission, saying she hoped her Â‘organs would be scattered in the airÂ’ and her soul Â‘would reach paradise.Â’ W ould there be 72 houris to greet her there? No. The religious scholars who endorse su icide attacks have described an alternative paradise for women. Thauri a Hamur, a 26-year-old captured by the Israelis before she could set off a bomb in May 2002, told NEWSWEEK in a prison interview that women martyrs would Â‘become the purest and most beautiful form of angel at the highest level possible in heaven.Â’ (Ibid.) Meanwhile, although such investigative efforts as Newsweek Â’s recent report are needed and welcome pieces of information, the recrui tment, training and use of female bombers by secular groups remains understudied by the media and neglected by policymakers. The priorities in the current global Â“War on Te rrorÂ” have been squarely set within an agenda focused solely upon Islamist terrori sm and, more specifi cally, Middle-Eastern-
135 based or al-Qaeda-related terrorist initiativ es. Within such a limited framework, the perpetration of suicide bombi ngs by secular groups. Symbols and Demonization: The Post-September 11 Rhetoric Â“This is not an isolated criminal act we are dealing with, it is an extreme and evil ideology whose roots lie in a pe rverted and poisonous misinter pretation of th e religion of Islam.Â” British Prime Minister Tony Blair utte red that statement following the July 11, 2005 London bombings. His choice of words echoed speeches made after the September 2001 attacks in the United States. The dominan t discourses, frames, and representations that have informed the media and public deba te over suicide terrori sm are now presented with a focus on the post-September 11 framework. The clash of civilizations model. On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, Israeli leader Ariel Sharon appeared on televisi on to convey his regret, condolences, and assurance of IsraelÂ’s suppor t in the war on terror. Sharon called for a coalition against terrorist networks, setting the civilized world against the barbaric wo rld of the terrorists and pitting Â“the free worldÂ” against Â“the for ces of darknessÂ” that are trying to destroy Â“freedomÂ” and Â“our way of life.Â” Sharon decl ared Â“This is a war between good and evil and between humanity and the bloodthirstyÂ” a nd added that the att acks were Â“a turning point in the war against intern ational terror.Â” British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a statement that described the at tacks as Â“perpetrated by fanatic s who are utterly indifferent to the sanctity of human lifeÂ” and continued to assert that Â“we, the democracies of this world, are going to have to come together to fight it and eradicate this evil completely from our world.Â” In German Chancellor Ge rhard SchroederÂ’s opini on, the attacks Â“were not only attacks on the people in the United St ates, our friends in America, but also
136 against the entire civilized world, against our own freedom, against our own values, values which we share with the American people.Â” Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrtien called the attacks Â“a cowardly act of un speakable violence . It is impossible to fully comprehend the evil that would have c onjured up such a cowardly and depraved assault.Â” Even President General Pervez Mush arraf of Pakistan, one of three countries then recognizing the Taliban government, criticized the attacks and asked for international cooperation to fight the Â“modern-d ay evilÂ” of terrorism. Pope John Paul II qualified the attacks as an Â“unspeakable horro rÂ” and, during his week ly general audience in St. Peter's Square, the pontiff told American s that "those who believe in God know that evil and death do not have the fi nal sayÂ” (International, 2001). On the evening of September 11, 2001, Pr esident Bush made a televised and radio-broadcast address to the nation. Hi s opening statement was: Â“Today, our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom ca me under attack in a series of deliberate and deadly terrorist acts.Â” Presid ent Bush then declared: Â“Thous ands of lives were suddenly ended by evil, despicable acts of terror.Â” He went on to make the following statements: America was targeted for attack because weÂ’re the brightest beacon for freedom and opportunity in the world. And no one will keep that light from shining. Today, our nation saw evil, the very worst of human nature. . The search is underway for thos e who are behind these evil acts. IÂ’ve directed the full resources for our intelligence and law enforcement communities to find those responsible a nd bring them to justice. We will make no distinction between the terr orists who committed these acts and those who harbor them. . America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world and we stand together to win the war against terrorism. To night I ask for your prayers for all those who grieve, for the children whos e worlds have been shattered, for all whose sense of safety and security has been threatened. And I pray they will be comforted by a power greater than any of us spoken through the ages in Psalm 23: Â‘Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are wi th me.Â’ This is a day when all
137 Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace. America has stood down enemies before, and we will do so this time. None of us will ever forget this day, yet we go forward to defend freedom and all that is good and just in our world. (Text, 2001) Bushspeak. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the rhetoric of the Bush administration followed a pattern for which a precedent had been set throughout the day by world leaders. Indeed, as illustra ted by the abovementioned speech excerpt, President Bush condemned the Â“evilÂ” of te rrorism and the evil terrorists, whom he referred to as Â“a faceless cowardÂ” soon afte r the attacks (Bush, 2001). The word Â“evilÂ” itself was used four times in the very first o fficial speech made on the eve of the attacks. Moreover, President Bush repeatedly portray ed the conflict as a Â“war between good and evilÂ” in which the United States was going to Â“eradicate evil from the worldÂ” and to Â“hunt downÂ” and Â“smoke out evildoers,Â” th ose Â“barbaric people.Â” The PresidentÂ’s vernacular style soon became referred to as Â“BushspeakÂ” and illustrated how he Â“rarely puts ten words together in a major address without taking a position, passing a judgment, or proclaiming a purposeÂ” (Gourevitch, 2004). The Bush administration also used vari ous cowboy metaphors (calling for Osama bin Laden Â“dead or aliveÂ” for example), as we ll as several figures of speech with heavy religious overtones. The most documented one is President Bu shÂ’s initial description of the anti-terrorism campaign as a Â“crusade. Â” Although it was in lin e with his Â“good vs. evilÂ” interpretation of the s ituation, he was advised that the term carried a highly offensive historical connotation in connecti on with earlier wars between Christians and Muslims. At the outset of the campaign, the Pentagon named the war against terror Â“Operation Infinite Justice.Â” They, too, were advised that only God could dispense such
138 Â“infinite justiceÂ” and that Am ericans and others could be troubled by a war expanding to infinity. In outlining the goals of the war, not once did President Bush mention democracy. The new name for the war on terrorism became Â“Operation Enduring Freedom.Â” From that point on, the Bush admini stration mantra frequently reaffirmed that the global war against terrorism was being fought Â“for freedom.Â” The Â“terroristÂ” label. An important issue related to the role of the media and their coverage of suicide bombing even ts relates to the labeling of certain groups as Â“terroristÂ” whereas others are continuously referred to in more positive or simply neutral terms Â– even if they are listed as FTOs in the United States for instance. This has been a point of contention amongst political and media analysts as well as military experts, for many years. Terrorism, as explained earlier, has yet to be clearly and uniformly defined and remains, as a result, a very subjective con cept influenced by soci o-political conditions, cultural circumstances, and political agendas. After the September 2001 attacks, President Bush declared open season on te rrorists, Â“freedom haters,Â” and various Â“evildoersÂ” who instantly became the prime targ ets of his Â“War on Terror.Â” Incidentally, President Bush, his administration, and the mass media have failed to include most terrorist groups, as defined by the U.S. Depart ment of State itself, in this global war on terrorism. Any reference to the Â“War on TerrorÂ” usually implicitly refers to Â“sub-state movements like al-Qaeda whose activities [are] directed against the West, often with the support of radical Middle Eastern governmen ts and intelligence servicesÂ” (Jenkins, 2003:20). That has prompted many to critici ze the new Bush Terror Doctrine as a prejudiced and potentially harmful campaign ag ainst an inflated th reat that should not have superseded other pressing national or foreign policy issues Â– including blatant and
139 documented terrorism problems elsewhere in the world. Moreover, some were quick to argue that the United States was Â“as truly a r ogue state as Libya or IraqÂ” and that, as far as causing harm was concerned, terrorist groups did Â“not approach the scale of savagery of states, including the U.S. and its allies. The U.S. thus had no moral authority to denounce anyone else as a terroristÂ” (Ibid.). The Council on Foreign Relations (2004) argues that Â“being saddled with the pejorative label Â‘terro ristÂ’ focuses attention on a groupÂ’ s methods, not its message, and can delegitimize its cause in the public eye.Â” Some fighters may welcome the expression, on the other hand, as Jenkins (2003) notes a bout an Algerian me mber of al-Qaeda: My ideological commitment is total and the reward of glory for this relentless battle is to be called a terrorist. I accept the name of terrorist if it is used to mean that I terrorize a one -sided system of iniquitous power and a perversity that comes in many forms. (2003:17) As far as suicide bombings are concerned, several alternate expr essions have been used to describe essentially similar actions while subjectivel y framing them in a different way. Western (English-language) media and governmental documents choose the terms Â“suicide attacks,Â” Â“suicide terror attacks, Â” or Â“suicidal bombingsÂ” to refer to events involving Â“suicide terrorism.Â” On the other hand, the same incidents are described in Middle Eastern (Arabic) media and offici al policies as Â“martyrdom operationsÂ” perpetrated by Â“liberation fightersÂ” or Â“resistance movements.Â” For instance, [i]n Palestinian Arabic, the phrase for a bombing attack in which the perpetrator is killed is an amaliyya istishhadiyya a Â‘martyrdom operation,Â’ or an amaliyya fidaÂ’iyya a Â‘sacrificaial operation.Â’ In the Israeli Arabiclanguage media, the preferred term is an amaliyya intihariyya a Â‘suicide operation.Â’ (Human Rights Watch, 2002:36).
140 This lends a special meaning to the popular sa ying Â“One manÂ’s terrorist is another manÂ’s freedom fighter.Â” This qualification is evid ently more positive a nd lays emphasis on the glorified notion of se lf-sacrifice of the bom ber, who is called a shahid (martyr) or shahida for a woman ( shuhada in the plural). One of the goals of such a positive construal of the act is to provi de an incentive for future recr uits or bombers currently in training. Another major justifi cation for the use of the ma rtyrdom concept is that it clearly defines the operation as a testament of oneÂ’s faith in A llah. As explained in Chapter Two, the legitimacy of suicide bombings has been highly debated among Islamic scholars: while some view it as a purely suicid al act that is in contradiction with the QurÂ’anic prescription against su icide, others perceive it as a selfless act of someone willing to die while fighting the Cause of God ( jihad fi sabilillah ) through a just jihad (struggle) by the sword ( jihad bis saif) The latter interpretation justifies the rationalization of suicide bom bings as martyrdom operations, as adopted by Hamas, the al-Aqsa MartyrsÂ’ Brigades, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Fatah, a nd other Palestinian factions known for perpetrating suicide bom bings. Secular groups involved in suicide bombings, such as the LTTE and the PKK (todayÂ’s KONGRA-GEL or KGK), also refer to their suicide bombing operatives as martyrs and the suicide missions are also described as martyrdom operations in order to give sp ecial emphasis to the fact that the bomber gave his or her life in defense of th e noble and greater cause fought by the group. Likewise, there is a strong tendency to de scribe suicide bombers as Â“terrorists,Â” Â“Islamic fundamentalists,Â” Â“crazed fanatic s,Â” and Â“evildoersÂ” or Â“evil cowardsÂ” who either strike in the Middle East, typically in Is rael, or perpetrate att acks in the name of alQaeda. Iraqi insurgents, also known alternatively as Â“free dom hatersÂ” and Â“enemies of
141 freedom,Â” are also graced with the same la bels, though the Bush administration and the mainstream media have significantly reduced their unfortunate amalgam of war and terrorism in public discourse over the past few months. Other suicide bombers (e.g., Tamil Tigers, Chechens) are described as Â“rebels,Â” Â“insurgents,Â” Â“radicals,Â” Â“separatists,Â” Â“revolutionaries,Â” and so on. Such terms, though mostly accurate in principle, draw attention away from the Â– technically-speak ing Â– terrorist activi ties perpetrated by the suicide bombers and backed by whicheve r groups they belong to. Such subdued phraseology also serves the essential purpose of not calling the attention of the general public to political struggles outside the real m of the paradoxically Middle-East-based Â“Global War on Terror.Â” A terminology twist worthy of attention can be found in French-speaking news (e.g., in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Qubec). Following a trend that started in France, suicide bombers are described as Â“terroristsÂ” and sometimes as Â“human bombs.Â” More importantly, they are referred to as Â“kamikazes,Â” which evidence a patent misunderstanding of the historical background an d intrinsic features of suicide bombings. As explained in Chapter Two, Â“kamikazeÂ” is a Japanese term that means Â“divine windÂ” and was used to characterize World War II Japa nese pilots who were recruited for suicide missions against key military targets. They were used for the first time in the November 1944 Battle of the Philippines. Convinced that conventional warfare could not guarantee success, most volunteered for the suicide missions, which were called tokkotai (Â“special attacksÂ”). In the April 1945 Battle of Okinaw a, more than 2,000 kamikazes crashed fully fueled fighter planes into over 300 ships, killing 5,000 Americans, which prompted the U.S. government to approve the use of the at omic bomb to bring the war to an end. Taken
142 out of its inherently Far-Eastern context, the term Â“kamikazeÂ” has obviously little to no meaning when applied to Mi ddle-Eastern, Chechen or Sri Lankan suicide bombers who strap explosives around their waist or drive explosive-laden trucks into buildings. To some extent, the comparison could undergo a te st of congruence when the label is applied to the September 11 hijackers, but their actions were not sponsored by a state or a formal government and therefore do not justif y such a figure of speech. Another noteworthy politicized issue that emerged in recent years is that of homicide bombers. In an April 12, 2002 press briefing, former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer expressly referred to a suicide bombing that had occurred in Jerusalem that morning as a Â“homicide bombingÂ”: From there, the President had his intelligence briefings with the CIA and then the FBI. He convened a meeting of the National Security Council. At which point, in the middle of the meeting, the President was informed about this morning's homicide bombing in Jerusalem. (Fleischer, 2002; emphasis added) He then went on to declare: The President condemns this morning's homicide bombing in Jerusalem. There are clearly people in the regi on who want to disrupt Secretary Powell's peace mission. And the President will not be deterred from seeking peace. There are people who don't want peace. The President wants peace, and that's why he conde mns in the strongest terms possible this morning's homicide attack (Ibid.) Following Mr. FleischerÂ’s remarks, a jour nalist aptly asked for clarification. Mr. Fleischer thus explained the White HouseÂ’s new terminology of choice as part of an effort to underscore the negative overtones while putting less emphasis on the notion of self-sacrifice inherent in th e tactic of suicide bombing: Journalist Q At the same time th at conservative Republicans are sharply criticizing this President for his Mi deast policy, which they describe as
143 being too tough on Israel, you, the Presid ent, others in this White House have adopted a term called homicide bombings instead of suicide bombings. Is that a coincidence, or is this an attempt to pacify his political base that's criticizing him? Mr. Fleischer David, I don't think pacification comes from lexicon. I think people support the President -Journalist Then why change the term, why adopt this -Mr. Fleischer I think people suppor t the President because of the principles that he has so strongly stood for in the war against terrorism and in his actions here in the Middle East But the reason I started to use that term is because it's a more accurate description. These are not suicide bombings. These are not people who just kill themselves. These are people who deliberately go to murder others, w ith no regard to the values of their own life. These are murderers. The Pr esident has said that in the Rose Garden. And I think that is just a more accurate description of what these people are doing. It's not su icide, it's murder. (Ibid.) According to the St. Pete Times of April 13, 2002 (New, 2002): Fox News Channel began using Â‘homicid e bombingÂ’ to refer to Friday's Jerusalem attack almost as soon as the news broke. Dennis Murray, executive producer of daytime programming, said executives there had heard the phrase being used by administ ration officials in recent days and thought it was a good idea. CNN and MSNBC used Â‘suicide bombe rÂ’ to refer to Friday's attack. ABC News also plans to stick with Â‘s uicide bomber.Â’ Â‘We believe that is a more descriptive term,Â’ CNN spokeswoman Christa Robinson said. Â‘A homicide bomber could refer to some one planting a bomb in a trash can.Â’ CNN mentioned the briefing and the adop tion of the new label, along with a report that U.S. officials had confirmed that very same day that Israel had Â“shared with the administration new documents Israel sa ys show high-level Palestinian Authority involvement in financing and supporting terro r strikes on IsraelÂ” (King, 2002). However, official attempts to make the phrase Â“hom icide bombingÂ” popular in the news and the mind of the general public failed. Most majo r news companies dropped the phrase within
144 weeks of Ari FleischerÂ’s briefing. Only News Corp outlets, such as FoxNews and the New York Post have consistently us ed the phrase since. Summary of Findings As highlighted by these results, the so cial construction of suicide terrorism involves several key players: the suicide bom bers and their supporters (i.e., the folk devils), the media, the public, and agents of social control (politic ians, law makers, law enforcement, and action groups). Various socio-political processes, bureaucratic mechanisms, and media structures interact to shape suicide terrorism as a social problem, a threat to society and civilizat ion as a whole, and a pressing issue that can only be solved with immediate, drastic measures. Suicide terrorism is used as a political weapon to promote ideological agendas on both sides of th e terrorism equation. It is also exploited as a communication tool and politicized in orde r to feed into moral panics and the politics of fear. Representations and interpretations of suicide bombings are very much onedimensional and present the issue as a mono lithic way. Simplistic portrayals of bombing attacks and suicide bombers are used to depi ct suicide terrorism as a pure manifestation of evil. News coverage of suicide bombings is characteristically sensationalized to capitalize on feelings of collective insecurity a nd warmongering policies. The results of this study in effect provi de a canvas for an in-depth discussion of the data collected, which shall make it possibl e to not only derive meaningful conclusions from its theoretical import but also make informed policy recommendations based on its practical and empirical signi ficance. The following chapter presents such discussion, conclusions, and recommendations. Suggestions for future research are also mentioned.
145 Chapter Five Discussion & Conclusions Summary of Study The focal point of this study is suicide terrorism, a violent, complex, and highly adaptable form of terrorism that has received extensive media coverage over the past few years and has become a key issue in contem porary political agendas. More specifically, this study provides an analysis of the subj ective definitional and rhetorical processes involved in the social construction of suicid e terrorism. The goal of the constructionist approach, strengthened by a symbolic interactio nist perspective, was to demonstrate that suicide terrorism is essentially a subjective concept and a socially constructed problem. In effect, the study was designed to move the analysis of suicide terrorism beyond traditional essentialist debates and into more nuanced understandings of cultural meaning, human action, and human interacti on. Hence the study focused on determining (a) how the interpretive understa nding of suicide terrorism is associated with a subjective representation of events and their alleged cau ses and (b) how such biased representation is conditioned by deliberate attempts to st igmatize ideological enemies, manipulate public perceptions, and promote certain politi cal interests. Consequently, the main research question was: Â“How are socio-politi cal processes, bureaucratic mechanisms, and media structures involved in the social cons truction of suicide terrorism?Â” A three-fold subset of questions was then developed: (a) Â“H ow is suicide terrorism used as a political
146 weapon?Â”; (b) How is suicide terrorism used as a communication tool?Â”; and (c) Â“How is suicide terrorism a politicized issue that f its into the moral panic framework?Â”. The study was designed as a qualitative re search project in or der to fulfill the main objective of improving our understan ding of the complex phenomenon of suicide bombings. Such a research design helped to fully capture the definitional and rhetorical mechanisms at play while taking into account the multifarious context in which suicide terrorism is profoundly rooted. The overall strategy favored for this study was a multicase study, an adaptive and innovative qualita tive approach specifically intended to provide an in-depth knowledge of an organizational phenomenon. The instrumental collective case study thus developed allowe d the observation and a ssessment of several sites using cross-case comparisons and expl anation-building techni ques to analyze the data. Patterns and themes were subsequently discerned across cases, which added depth to the study and solidified its findings. Cases were identi fied via purposeful sampling, which consisted of sampling unique research sites and key participants, that is, information-rich cases particularly well-su ited for the in-depth study of the social construction of suicide terrorism. Data coll ection methods relied on a triangulation of ideas, that is, a convergence if data sources, theories, and me thodologies, in order to help develop themes. Case studies also allowe d for extensive data collection drawing on multiple sources of information, including ex tensive field research, in-depth expert interviews, and analysis of pub lic and official documents. Su ch a diversity of sources and collected data guaranteed a more co mplete depiction of the phenomenon. The study findings, which are recapitulated following the main research questions in the preceding chapter, highlight that many actors are involved in the social
147 construction of suicide terrorism: the suicid e bombers and their supporters (the folk devils), the media, the public, and agents of social control. As a result, the social construction of suicide terrorism is conditioned and influenced by the interaction sociopolitical processes, bureaucratic mechanisms and media structures. Suicide bombings are political weapons, used as a communication tool and exploited as a pol iticized issue that fuels moral panics and the politics (and marke ting) of fear surrounding suicide terrorism. Representations and interpretations of suicide bombings are overwhelmingly onedimensional: they ignore the dynamics of the historical, social, cultural, economic, and psychological dimensions of the events. The media and agents of social control use unsophisticated portrayals of suicide bombings and usually describe suicide terrorism as a mere manifestation of evil. Terrorist groups and suicide bomb ers are selectively depicted as simplistic enemies, crazed coward s, and demonized foes. News coverage of suicide bombings is characteristically sensat ionalized: they are presented as extremely violent and elaborate propaganda tools in the hands of dange rous religious fanatics who are distressed, unstable and su icidal, and have nothing to lose. Bombers are also habitually described as poor, uneducated, young males who were brainwashed by the fundamentalist precepts of radical Islam. This is in total contradicti on with the reality of suicide bombings. The latter are, in fact, characterized by a combination of primitive means and meticulous planning (recruitment, formation, and training) that results in extensive physical and psychological harm. Mo reover, suicide bombers are not primarily suicidal and generally do not suffer from any diagnosable psychological disorders or cognitive impairments impeding effective problem-solving skills. Not all suicide bombings are perpetrated by exponents of a f undamentalist interpretation of Islam or any
148 other religion, for that matter: some secular groups have resorted to the tactic, including the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) in Sri Lanka. The Ti gers, in fact, are to this day the most prolific users of suicide bombings. Fina lly, women and children are increasingly recruited for suicide missions by several secula r and religious groups that view them as providing invaluable tactical advantages, but their pres ence in the media and public policy is still scant. Such findings are particularly meaningful today, all the more as suicide terrorism has gained in both sustainability and popularity worldwide and the fast-growing radicalization of opposing facti ons and terrorist cells has in creasingly become a concern for policymakers and other agents of soci al control. More than two thirds of contemporary suicide bombings have occu rred since 2000 and at least one suicide bombing is reported about in international news every day. The timeliness and relevance of this study is indisputable. It is therefore cri tical to thoroughly e xplore and reflect upon its essential findings, as well as its overall contribution to both knowledge and practice. Theoretical Implications of Results Appropriateness of the Theoretical Framework As evidenced by the findings presente d in the previous chapter, the moral signification of suicide terrorism can be successfully illustrated via a social constructionist study of suicide bombings. Mo re specifically, this study shows that the construction of suicide terrorism as a new social problem and burning policy issue, as well as the contested claims made within that framework by the variety of actors involved, can be effectively analyzed and be tter understood within CohenÂ’s moral panic framework. Consequently, a social construc tionist perspective makes it possible to
149 understand not only the emergence of suicide bombers as contemporary folk devils, but also the moral crusade and the moral panic th at resulted from it. Additionally, social constructionism does seem to allow us to emphasize the negative and not necessarily anticipated effects of social control policy with regard to suicide terrorism, including the greater cohesion of terrorist groups and their increased polar ization against the rest of society and the agents of c ontrol (politicians, lawmakers, law enforcement, and action groups) actively involved in the Â“War on Terro r.Â” This methodical so cial constructionist investigation also enables us to focus on the role played by the mass media Â– both news and entertainment outlets Â– in publicizing and sensationalizi ng suicide bombings, setting off a contagion effect, and promoting the ideological and commerc ial exploitation of suicide terrorism. This study further illustrates the meani ng and significance of symbols. Symbols are social objects that are Â“used to represent . whatever people agree they shall representÂ” (Charon, 2004:47-48). Words and acts are symbols. As such, they are social, Â“defined in interaction, not established in natureÂ” (2004:48). Additionally, they are meaningful: their users clearly understa nd what the words or acts represent. Consequently, words and acts are also significa nt. People use certain words or resort to certain actions deliberately, not unintentionally, so as Â“to gi ve off meaning to othersÂ” (2004:49). In concordance with the symbolic in teractionist perspect ive, this study thus shows that the use of language should not be taken for granted. Symbolic communication is inherent in human life and necessary fo r social reality to develop from human interaction (2004:43). As explai ned earlier, physical objective reality, which refers to the Â“situation as it existsÂ” (Ibid.), is subject to interpretation and objective acts are
150 systematically defined within a working cont ext Â– a socially defined reality. Upon that social reality people also build their personal reality in interaction with themselves to reach their own interpretation and understand ing of the physical world and human lived experience. Hence people interpret the reality of suicide terrorism within their own symbolic framework. Their perspectives evolve as they interact with others and within their social worlds or reference groups. Hence the study findings outlined in Chapter Four coincide with the theoretical framework guiding this research. The analys is of the socio-political processes, bureaucratic mechanisms, and media structures involved in the soci al construction of suicide terrorism is discussed in detail belo w. In particular, the use of suicide bombings as a political weapon, their exploitation as a communication tool, and their politicization in order to feed into moral panics are di ssected in an attempt to fully grasp the conceptualization and interpre tation processes associated w ith this violent tactic and thereby improve our understanding of suicide terrorism. The Use of Suicide Bombi ngs as a Political Weapon Suicide bombings as a winning prac tice of asymmetrical warfare. Regarding the success of suicide bombings as political wea pons, ICT Education Project head and senior researcher Yoram Schweitzer (2000) once stated that, from the Israel i perspective of now twenty-two years of suicide terrorism, one may conclude that it has not b een a Â‘winning cardÂ’ in the hands of terror organizations, nor has it chan ged dramatically the inherent imbalance between states and terror orga nizations in favor of the terrorists. However, it was proven to be an effec tive instrument in the service of the terroristsÂ’ agenda.
151 On the other hand, Pape (2005) argues that Â“as we saw in the recent London attacks, suicide terrorism works, particularly agains t democracies.Â” Likewise, suicide terrorism arguably Â“workedÂ” for the PKK in Turkey or Hizballah in Lebanon and it is currently the best strategic weapon available to Chechen terrorists. Yet, the concrete pol itical outcome of a suicide terror campaign is unimportant co mpared to the fundamental appeal of the method as a persuasive political weapon agai nst foreign occupation and other sorts of politically-based conflicts. Su icide terrorism is regarded as the Â“ultimate weaponÂ” (Schweitzer, 2001) and Â“the most politically destabilizingÂ” form of terrorism (Atran, 2004, August:1). Over the last few years, it has been used increasingly across the world by secular and religious groups th at construe it as their most promising tool for political change and promote it Â– with the welcome though not always inten tional help of the media and agents of social control Â– as th e most effective weapon in their arsenal. Strategic and tactical usefulness. Suicide bombings are characterized by the use of rather primitive means which, thanks to meticulous planning (including the recruitment, formation, and training of th e bombers or attack teams), result in considerable physical and psychological harm. Suicide bombings happen without warning and are virtually always succe ssful in wreaking utter chaos upon entire populations. They are prime weapons of psyc hological warfare and, as such, constitute one of the most dangerous weapons available to terrorists today. Their political nature is enhanced by the fact that terrorists (notably Is lamic extremists in recent years) turn their attacks into spectacles of te rror and huge media events for the main purpose of promoting their political agenda. The strategic and t actical usefulness of suicide bombings as outstanding political weapons is therefore emphasized in our media-saturated society. In
152 todayÂ’s global politics and global media wo rld, the purpose of such extravagant terror spectacles as the September 2001 attacks is not only to gain worldwid e attention, but also to dramatize the issues and grievances of the groups involved and to achieve specific political goals. The aftermath of the Se ptember 11, 2001 attacks has also shown how spectacles of terror can also be used by de mocratic leaders (for instance, the Bush administration) to promote thei r own geopolitical agendas. The Use of Suicide Bombings as a Communication Tool The mass media can be powerful actors in the long-standing battle between terrorist groups and governments. The media can indeed have an effect on public perception of terrorist acts a nd government actions. This, in tu rn, may affect the latter, as well as the operations and age nda of the terrorist groups. Terrorists, governments, and the media see the function, roles and responsibilities of the media when cove ring terrorist events from differing and often competing perspectives. Su ch perspectives drive behavior during terrorist incidents--often resul ting in both tactic al and strategic gains to the terrorist operation a nd the overall terr orist cause. The challenge to both the governmental and press communities is to understand the dynamics of terrorist enterprise and to develop policy options designed to serve the interest s of government, the media, and the society. (Perl, 1997) The mediaÂ’s perspective. What news media outlets strive to accomplish by covering suicide bombings so considerably is quite simple: they want to beat the competition, be the first to cover a breaking story, and present it as dramatically as possible. Â“Breaking newsÂ” has become the catchphrase and the main objective of news coverage today. Â“Old news is no newsÂ” and Â“p ressure to transmit real time news instantly in todayÂ’s competitive hi-tech communication environment is at an all-time highÂ” (Perl, 1997). Wilkinson (1997) further argues that
153 major US networks all compete fiercely for an increased market share of the audience and for the higher adver tising revenue they can gain through exploiting the publicÂ’s insatiable interest in the coverage of major terrorist Â‘pseudo-events.Â’ (1997:57). The faster you can provide background inform ation on the Â“terrorist groupÂ” supposedly involved, the more trustworthy and thor ough your newscast will be perceived by the audience. It does not much matter if you are providing incorrect information, as long as the news bit sounds persuasive enough. For in stance, immediately following the suicide bombings of March 11, 2004 in Madrid, Spain, newsrooms across the world, from Europe to the United States, were focusing thei r special editions on the Basque separatist group ETA, which had been blamed by the Spanish Prime Minister and was quickly found to have had nothing to do with the al-Qaeda-sponsored synchronized attacks. Sensationalizing a well-timed story is a nother important element of contemporary news making that also is characteristic of the creation and diffusion of moral panics (which will be discussed in details below). Spectacular f ootage, dramatic music, and striking visual effects are used to ensure the news is not only informative but also thrilling to watch. FoxNews and CNN have s eemingly entered a Â“graphics warÂ” to show which network can have the most gripping, enthralling news produc tion of flashy short sequences, occasionally inaccurate informati on, and strings of interviews with highlypaid Â“terrorism experts.Â” Other programs, such as Democracy Now for instance, would rather focus on a low-budget, objective (and therefore more ethical) presentation of factual news based on sources that have been carefully double-checked and are then dissected by low-profile yet reliable political analysts or military historians. As Wilkinson (1997) explains:
154 The free media clearly do not represent terrorist values. Generally they tend to reflect the underlying values of the democratic society. But the media in an open society are in a fiercely competitive market for their audiences, constantly under pressure to be first with the news and to provide more information, excitement and entertainment than their rivals. Hence they almost bound [sic] to respond to terrorist propaganda of the deed because it is dramatic bad news) (1997:54). Some news media outlets justify their thea trical or sometimes shocking coverage of suicide bombings with a common Â“people have the right to knowÂ” argument. Yet, the hypocrisy of such a statement becomes obvious wh en a brief analysis of such sensational coverage shows a deliberate attempt to subjec tively and arbitrarily se lect certain pieces while deliberately censoring actual footage of perpetrators at the preparation stage, actual suicide bombings or their bloody af termath. U.S. coverage of such events, for example, is typically limited to clouds of smoke, gutted buses, and speeding ambulances Â– but no bodies or severely injured victims are ever shown. The Â“right to knowÂ” argument is usually countered here by an active effort to preserve the psychologi cal well-being of all direct and indirect victims (i ncluding viewers or readers). In Europe or Asia, on the other hand, blown up bodies and whatever remains of the suicide bomber(s) are frequently pictured on television or in printed news in order to display the full horror of the bombings and illustrate the gravity of the incidents. The media additionally try to safeguar d their free operation throughout their operations. One of the pillars of democratic societies is freedom of the press. Many journalists covering terrorism and suicide bombi ngs in particular have complained that they have been unable to report the news as accurately and objectively as their professional and ethical standard s dictate. This has been especially true for coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, considering th e close ties of the U.S. government with its
155 Israeli counterpart, and the Iraqi insurgency. Regarding the latter, claims have multiplied over the past two years concer ning restraints imposed on news agencies with regards to producing stories portraying the Bush administra tion and its so-called Â“liberation effortsÂ” in a negative light. Freedom of the press ha s also been jeopardized by terrorist groups who have retaliated against j ournalists and other members of the press corps involved in terrorism coverage. Journalists generally want the freedom to cover an issue without external restraint--whether it comes media owners advertisers, editors, or from the government. . In many instances, this concern goes beyond protecting their legal right to publ ish relatively unrestraine d; it includes personal physical security. They wa nt protection from threat, harassment, or violent assault during operations, and protec tion from subsequent murder by terrorists in retaliation providing unf avorable coverage (the latter occurring more often abroad than in the United States). (Perl, 1997) The terrorist perspective. Terrorists essentially want pe ople to have an auspicious, if not sympathetic, view of their cause Although people who ar e aware of suicide bombings may not believe the end justifies the means, they may sympathize Â– or even empathize Â– with the predicament of the groups resorting to the deadly tactic. Â“Terrorists believe the public Â‘needs helpÂ’ in understandi ng that their cause is just and terrorist violence is the only course of action available to them agains t the superior evil forces of state and establishmentÂ” (Perl, 1997). Therefore, they must ma ke sure that they establish and preserve healthy, steady relations with the media. Terrorist groups sometimes get directly involved in news me dia structures, especially small ones they can control by providing financial support, or pursue more sensitive or supportive press personnel who may portray them in a less negative fashion.
156 The main purpose of these groups is to ensure the news media portray them and their cause in a more sensible way. Â“Terrorist causes want the press to give legitimacy to what is often portrayed as id eological or personality feuds or divisions between armed groups and political wingsÂ” (Perl, 1997). Th ey usually believe that a more objective portrayal of the armed str uggle on the one hand and the pol itical activities on the other will help them find more supporters, recru it additional followers, and secure more external financial backing. Terrorist groups further covet media re porting that harms or is in any way detrimental to their enemies. This is es pecially true when a group does not claim responsibility for a suicide bombing or does not explicitly provide a rationale for it. AlQaeda, for instance, has mastered this appr oach in recent years. This ensures maximum media coverage, the amplification of the fee ling of collective insecurity, as well as the intensification of fear and the ensuing moral panic. In addition, such Â“anonymous terrorismÂ” may cause significant shortor long-term economic losses. It may also Â“make populations loose faith in th eir governmentsÂ’ ability to protect themÂ” and Â“trigger government and popular overreaction to specif ic incidents and the overall threat of terrorismÂ” (Perl, 1997). This was clearly illust rated in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States. The key element here is publicity. Terrorist groups are extremely keen on publicity and will exploit media infrastructures to maximize it, even if it is not always positive publicity. As Brian Jenkins once empha sized, Â“terrorism is theatreÂ” (Council on Foreign Relations, 2004). In the late nine teenth century, Anarch ist terrorists of Narodnaya Volya famously described their vi olent activities as Â“propaganda by deed.Â”
157 For decades now, Â“terrorists have tailored their attacks to maximize publicity and get their messages out through all available channelsÂ” (Ibid.). Thus the media play a crucial role in the spectacle of terrorism As Wilkinson (1997) explains: In dealing with the relationship betw een terrorism and the mass media, the most useful approach is to attempt to understand the terrorist view of the problem of communications. It cannot be denied that although terrorism has proved remarkably ineffective as the major weapon for toppling governments and capturing political power, it has been a remarkably successful means of publicizing a polit ical cause and relaying the terrorist threat to a wider audience, particularly in the open and pluralistic countries of the West. When one says Â‘terrorism Â’ in a democratic society, one says Â‘mediaÂ’. For terrorism by its very na ture is a psychological weapon which depends upon communicating a threat to a wider society. (1997:53) Former British Prime Minister Margaret Th atcher once declared that Â“publicity is the oxygen of terrorismÂ” (Perl, 1997; Wilk inson, 1997), which illu strated that public opinion was a foremost terrorist target and how the media provided essential tools to influence and alter it. This may have change d since. While it could have been argued a decade ago that terrorists want a lot of people watchi ng, not a lot of people dead . the emergence of religious terror groups with apocalyptic outlooks and the availability of weapons of mass dest ruction may indicate that inflicting mass casualties has supplanted public ity as the primary goal of some terrorist campaigns. (Counc il on Foreign Relations, 2004) Suicide bombings appear to be incidents that are particularly tailored to the media. The purpose of groups that use this ta ctic is to get the a ttention of governments and the general public, which is facilitated by the mass media. Attracting media attention is a rather easy task for terrorist groups a nd organizations. They often plan the timing and location of their attacks to ensure maximum media coverage. For instance, many analysts have argued that the coordina ted attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in
158 September 2001 were specifically Â“designed to provide billions of television viewers with pictures symbolizing U.S. vulnerabilit y, and they prompted extensive reporting on al-Qaeda and its Islamist agendaÂ” (Council on Foreign Relations, 2004) Terrorist groups analyze the media closely and learn from thei r operations and processes. Some Â– like the Tamil Tigers (LTTE), LebanonÂ’s Hizballah, or the Kurdish KGK (former PKK) Â– have even put in place their very own media st ructures, radio broadcasts, and sponsored Websites. Suicide bombings are glaring exampl es of premeditated violence targeting symbols (political, economic, religious or ot herwise) and sending a political or religious message. Â“[G]oals might also include winni ng popular support, pr ovoking the attacked country to act rashly, attract ing recruits, polariz ing public opinion, de monstrating their ability to cause pain, or undermining government sÂ” (Ibid.). This is clearly illustrated by IsraelÂ’s typical reaction to Palestinian suicide bombings, which usually consists of immediate retaliation, especially against the families of the bombers, and heavy military intervention, including ta rgeted missile strikes. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the ex tensive media coverage it has generated further illustrate how media attention can actually benefit terrorist groups. Â“From the terrorist perspective, media coverage is an important measure of the success of a terrorist act or campaignÂ” (Perl, 1997). Even if the onl y casualty in a suicid e attack is the bomber himself or herself, the incident will garn er attention and be broadcast worldwide. Responsibility will be claimed and announced in the news within seconds, which guarantees immediate attention to the claims an d overall cause of the group implicated in the bombing. Intensive public opinion debates will ensue and policymakers will also get
159 involved worldwide, which may speed up the political process necessary to legitimately achieve the goals the group is fighting for. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and several other Palestinian groups have received as much worldwide attention for deadly bombings that claimed dozens of deaths and in jured scores of bystanders as they have for attacks that resulted in th e sole death of the bomber and some material destruction. Conversely, it has also been argued that me dia coverage can harm the cause of a group that resorts to suicide bombings. Indeed, if an attack does not go according to plan, it can easily backfire on th e group or organization: Attacks can spin out of control or have unintended consequences; too much slaughter can alienate poten tial supporters and sympathizers; terrorist activities have different meanings for different audiences; and even when terroristsÂ’ attack plans work, they cannot necessarily control how their actions are covered or pe rceived. (Council on Foreign Relations, 2004) Either way, many groups have learned to use the media to their advantage whenever necessary and thus have turn ed suicide bombings into a powerful communication tool. Transnational or ganizations like the LTTE and al-Qaeda have adapted to new technologies an d successfully broadcast messages via satellite television or the World Wide Web. It should be noted that the use of the Internet, in particular, has made it possibl e for these organizations to extend their global network and deliver their ideol ogy to millions of passive and active supporters they would have had great di fficulty reaching only a decade ago. They have also been able to communicate furtiv ely via Internet port als, virtual chat rooms or instant messaging services, and to use pseudo-charitable Websites to raise funds for their violent campaigns. Vi deo broadcasts via satellite television
160 (e.g., al-Jazeera, the Arabic cable news netw ork) have included recordings of the last testaments of Palestinian suicide bombers and gruesome footage of suicide bombing scenes in Israel or Sri Lanka, which are typically censored in the United States, as well as statements by leaders of the al-Qaeda terror network, including Osama bin Laden. Another example of a valuable instrument in al-QaedaÂ’s public relations arsenal has been their tendency not to claim responsibility for suicide bombings and other types of attacks, which has helped to disseminate and maintain general feelings of insecurity while compelling more media coverage. The governmental perspective. What governments fighti ng suicide terrorism essentially look for is Â“unders tanding, cooperation, re straint, and loyalty from the media in efforts to limit terrorist harm to societ yÂ” (Perl, 1997). Governments overtly want to capture and punish people responsible for suic ide bombings or othe r types of terrorist acts. As a result, they seek coverage th at will promote governmental priorities, not terrorist agendas. Governments can use the media in an effort to arouse world opinion against the country or group using terro rist tactics. Public diplomacy and the media can also be used to mobili ze public opinion in other countries to pressure governments to take, or reje ct, action against te rrorism. (Ibid.) Therefore, governments tend to view ma instream news media outlets as an instrument of public policy, a mere extension of their official agendas. The media should thus serve as mouthpieces for governments and never as platforms (voluntary or otherwise) for terrorist groups Â– unless of course if doing so were to hasten the impending doom of the terrorist group. The purpos e of such an interpretation of the role of the media is to clearly segregate media structures and terrori st groups and ensure
161 neither one uses the other to their advantag e. Governments also use suicide terrorism coverage (or lack thereof) to guard agai nst Â“disinformation from terrorist allies, sympathizers, or others who gain from its broadcast and publica tionÂ” (Ibid.). This constitutes a basic damage control technique, in a sense, and illustrates the determination of governments not to provide any mainstr eam media platforms for terrorist claims making Â– whether the claims are true or not. From a governmental (and fundamentally Occidental) viewpoint, the media are also supposed to portray suicide bombers and related terrorist groups as criminals. Media coverage should therefore never promote symp athetic or empathetic reactions in the public. Suicide bombers should not be glamoriz ed, bombings need not be sensationalized. Yet, as explained above, sensationalizing a newsworthy story is a major component of contemporary news making. The objectives of governments and the imperatives of the media sometimes clash as a result of th ese opposing realities. Governments often disapprove of media representations that may distract attention away from the criminal actions and focus instead on the cause being fought with the help of Â– amongst other methods Â– suicide bombings. As a result, govern ments may seek to control, directly or indirectly, the production and dissemination of news by certain media outlets. This is illustrated by the close ties between the Bu sh administration and right-wing network FoxNews, which is part of Bush sup porter Rupert MurdochÂ’s planetary media conglomerate, and the open reprisal campaign against journalists whose style of reporting was not fully in line with White House policies. Of course, this is in total contradiction with basic but non-negligible (and therefore constitutionally protected) rights such as freedom of expression and freedom of the press.
162 Overall, governments may benefit fro m regulating how much information terrorists can gain access to. Ongoing and future anti-terrorism measures, for instance, are typically not divulged to the media in order to ensure they remain known only to people directly involved in their development and implementation. Likewise, vulnerability assessments are not Â– or should not Â– be made public, or else the media could inadvertently inspire or even facilitate future bombings. That would undoubtedly represent a perverse effect of the mediaÂ’ s Â“right to knowÂ” approach to public news reporting. In recent months for instance, public officials harshly attacked continuous coverage of all the Â“weak poi ntsÂ” and other Â“high-risk potential targetsÂ” still left unprotected in the United States and abroad that could be Â“easy objectivesÂ” for suicide bombers. That denoted again how governmental strategic or tactical priorities can easily conflict with the propensity of the media to saturate their coverage with whatever is sensational enough to be deemed newsworthy and likely to generate more ratings (and therefore more money). In hostage-taking crises, the news media are often the only instrument available for terrorists to both follow outside events as they unfold and get information on how much exposure their actions are receiving. Ne ws coverage can therefore make rescue operations (or military intervention) difficult if too much information is provided to the hostage takers. Consequently, governments may decide to prohibit the media from accessing the immediate area or covering the stor y live altogether. On the other hand, if journalists gain access to the scene, gove rnments typically demand live information be communicated to them first. This is genera lly justified by a willingness to efficiently diffuse the situation as peacefully as possibl e. In recent years, as explained in the
163 previous chapter, critical hostage-taking incidents involvi ng Chechen suicide bombers in Russia have illustrated how such events can take an exceptionally deadly turn if they are not handled properly by the media a nd government authorities alike. With a related security goal in mind, governmental officials usually do not disclose any sensitive or clas sified information about preven tive or operational measures related to suicide bombings. Fr uitful counterterrorism opera tions are seldom publicized and details almost never provided to the me dia or the general public. We may know that Â“dozens of attacks have been thwartedÂ” but we will not know how, when, and where or who was involved. Not only does this give the public a false sense of reassurance that whatever policies are in place are indeed working, it also supposedly prevents would-be suicide bombers to imitate the disrupted att ack in the future. One may want to argue, however, that terrorist groups that recruit and train suicid e bombers are re sourceful and creative enough to figure out how to conduct destructive attacks and wage an efficient psychological warfare. The use of fully-fueled je tliners in high-profile suicide attacks, for example, was not heavily publicized after attemp ts in Israel and Fran ce, and yet, al-Qaeda successfully coordinated deva stating attacks in the United States years later. The media may also be exploited by polit icians and government agencies needing to improve their public image or looking for a complete public relations makeover. Thus certain politically favorable news outlets or journalists may be favored over others for Â“exclusive interviewsÂ” or Â“breaking newsÂ” c overage. This recurring practice effectively turns the network into a political platform Â– but in an ironically acceptable fashion since it serves the interests of the governments involved.
164 Governments also benefit heavily from the process of demonization that media portrayals of suicide bombers and supporters of suicide terrorism feed into. This is encouraged by media saturation: the more the news features st ories about suicide bombers, casting them as folk devils and Â“f reedom haters,Â” the more persuasively the media will convey their message of fear, global threat, and collective insecurity to the general public. Once public concern and media attention are galvanized, the demonization of suicide bombers and related terrorist groups is emphasized by the use of threatening metaphors and simplistic statements the construal of suicide terrorism as a scourge or an epidemic, the construction and propagation of fear, the warrior mentality and Â“War on TerrorÂ” rhetoric of the social control agents, and th e politicization of the issue. These concepts are henceforth discu ssed in more details within the moral panic framework. The Politicization of Suicide Terrorism and Moral Panics Suicide terrorism and moral panics. Â“The American public has been inundated with highly mediated images of terroris ts and terrorism since September 11, 2001Â” (Rothe & Muzzatti, 2004:327). The complex ph enomenon of suicide terrorism and its social construction can be analyzed from the moral panics perspective, as explained in Chapter Two, and broken down into five ove rlapping phases that apply to crime and criminality in other studies (see Buffington, 2003; Cohen, 2002): 1) A period of social upheaval produced by and contributing to a major shift in the nationÂ’s political economy. 2) The generalized perception of endemi c crises, represented in public opinion as a crime wave, and taking the form of a series of moral panics about the state of the nation. 3) A concerted response (especially but not exclusively on the part of state policymakers), represented in public opinion as a war on crime
165 and taking the form of Â“newÂ” disc ourses, practices, institutions, and technologies of social control. 4) The consolidation of a new criminal justice paradigm, often in the form of new laws and institutio ns, along with its inevitable contestation and negotia tion by vested elite interest groups and the often targeted popular classes. 5) The accumulation of Â“anomaliesÂ” Â– inconsistencies, contradictions, failures Â– in the dominant criminal justice paradigm that render it unstable and thus vulnerable to the next sustained period of social upheaval (which restarts the cycle). (Buffington, 2003) The social, political, and legal climate of the United States since September 11, 2001, in addition to its avowed fight against terro rism, is a perfect illustration of this fivephase cycle. Without over-s implifying the events lead ing up to the September 2001 attacks on U.S. soil or their significant s hortand long-term outcomes, one can find explanations for each phase in any and all manifestations of todayÂ’s U.S.-led War on Terror. The September 11 events characterize Ph ase One, following several suicide terror attacks against U.S. interest s abroad over previous years (e.g., 1998 West Africa attacks against U.S. Embassies, 2000 USS Cole bombing in Yemen). Phase One (notwithstanding the attacks th at occurred abroad) was a spectacular, brief stage, not a continued pe riod of social turmoil per se (such as the Lebanese Civil War, for instance, which began in 1975 and laid the foundation for HizballahÂ’s unprecedented 1980s suicide bombing campaign). Phase Two, the crime wave and subsequent moral panics, was encouraged by official speeches and fueled by the mainstream media. The crisis was emphasized by expressions like Â“the scourge of suicide terrorismÂ” or Â“the terrorist cancer,Â” as well as scores of articles presenting suicide terrorism as an Â“epidemicÂ” that had to be contained by any means necessary.
166 Phase Three, the concerted response, was the product of President BushÂ’s infamous comeback about Â“hunting down ev il cowardsÂ” and Â“smoking out evildoers.Â” Declaring the dawn of a Â“War on TerrorÂ” in the post-9/11 world, much like President Nixon had declared a Â“War on DrugsÂ” three decades earlier, President Bush introduced a new discourse of fear and warmongering in foreign policy and inte rnational relations. Innovative technologies also emerged in the wake of the September 2001 attacks. Security measures and techniques were a ltered in mass-trans it hubs throughout the United States, mainly at airports. Procedures and infrastructures were heavily modified to ensure the public believed maximum security had been achieved and that public spaces were safe again. For instance, airline pilo ts are now allowed to carry guns for their personal safety and more armed sky mars hals are supposedly randomly assigned to domestic and international flight s than before the fall of 2001. Phase Four, the consolida tion of a new criminal justice paradigm, quickly followed. In an obvious knee-jerk reacti on, a new federal legislation was passed immediately after September 11: the USA PA TRIOT Act, also known as the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001. Th e official purpose of this c ontroversial Act is to Â“deter and punish American terrorists in the United St ates and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposesÂ” (United States Senate, 2001). The noticeably problematic and contentious ph rase Â“for other purposesÂ” encompasses the detection by any means (including illegal or unconstitutional ones) and the prosecution of alleged future crimes that are not terrorist in nature. The extension and renewal of the Act has been fought vehemently in Congress. Anot her major institutional change that was a
167 direct result of the Septembe r 2001 suicide terror attacks wa s the creation of the United States Department of Homela nd Security (DHS) as a Cabinet department of the U.S. federal government. The DHS mission is to safe guard the people of America from harm and to protect American property from da mage or destruction. The reforms it has introduced have been forcefully conteste d. Nonetheless, government officials have consistently reported successf ul counterterrorism operations (without further details). Suicide bombers as folk devils. It is much easier to c ondemn suicide terrorism than to try to understand it. Likewise, it is easier to attribute deva stating suicide bombings to Â“folk devilsÂ” and ascribe a moral meaning to the acts. This helps to amplify the threat, exploit the panic it creates in the public, a nd market the fear it produces. It also helps propagate war fever, encourages retaliatory feelings and discourses, and promotes military solutions as relevant proportionate, and necessary ones. Finally, it opens the door for dangerous measures, such as shifty legislative reforms (e.g., the USA PATRIOT Act) and dubious policies (e.g., racial and ethnic profiling). A common notion in the U.S. admini stration and media spin on the war against terrorism is that suicide att ackers are evil, deluded or homicidal misfits who thrive in poverty, ignoran ce and anarchy. This portrayal lends a sense of hopelessness to any attemp t to address root causes because some individuals will always be de sperate or deranged enough to conduct suicide attacks. But as logical as the poverty-breeds-terrorism argument may seem, study after study shows th at suicide attackers and their supporters are rarely ignorant or impoverished. Nor are they crazed, cowardly, apathetic or asoc ial. The common misconception underestimates the central role that organizational factors play in the appeal of terrorist networks. A bette r understanding of such causes reveals that the challenge is actually manageable: the key is not to profile and target the most despairing or dera nged individual but to understand and undermine the organizational and ins titutional appeal of terroristsÂ’ motivations and networks. (Atran, 2004, August:5)
168 The politicization of religion and religiosity that has ch aracterized agenda setting and policymaking since September 2001 is a precarious choice and a misleading approach at best. Â“When reli gion is involved, it sidestep s the issue, since religion provides an absolute rationaleÂ” (Ebert, 2005). The Bush administration should not emphasize that it is the responsibility of the United States Â“to rid th e world of Evil,Â” as President Bush has repeatedly declared. Labeling suicide terrorists as Â“evildoersÂ” or Â“evil cowardsÂ” contributes nothing pos itive or productive to the fi ght against suicide terrorism or global terrorism. It show s a profound misunderstanding of the Â“enemyÂ” and its goals, which goes against any basic military strate gies. Publicly pitting the moral world of Good, as defined by the United States, versus th e amoral world of Evil of the terrorists only promotes a reductionist and simplistic rh etorical style that actually feeds into the similarly dichotomous Islamic worldview set ting the House of God against the House of War that fundamentalists exploit with their radical interpretation of Islam. Additionally, in view of the principle of separation of Church and State, it seems rather misguided for President Bush to rely on scriptures in official terrorism-related speeches. Christian metaphors (such as the crusade imagery th at followed the September 2001 suicide attacks) can only exacerbate tensions and furt her dichotomize the forces at play. Instead of imposing an American style of democracy onto others as the one and only sustainable mode of civilization across the globe, the United States must work towards better understanding the socio-cultural context, th e political processes and claims, and the religious values of the countries where su icide bombers and thei r supporters flourish. Regarding the introduction of the phrase Â“homicide bomberÂ” by the White House in 2002 and its subsequent adoption by News Corp media outlets, it appears that they
169 were anything but innocuous. What should not be overlooked here is that Rupert MurdochÂ’s News Corp is one of the largest media corporations on the planet and a major right-wing actor in todayÂ’ s global communications worl d. Its socio-political and economic influence extends across the worl d via a multitude of powerful holdings. The latter include the Fox Broadcasting Co mpany, a US-based nationwide broadcast television company, and Fox Television stat ion groups, in addition to major North American, South American, European, Asia n, and Australian sa tellite television providers and cable television services, dozens of key newspapers and magazines worldwide, Internet portals, major movie studios and film production companies, book publishing companies, and more. The adopti on and, in effect, promotion of the phrase Â“homicide bombingÂ” can be criticized as directly supporting attempts by the Bush Administration to not merely clarify its Â“Ter ror DoctrineÂ” but shape public perceptions of suicide terrorism and influen ce national policy through the de liberate and cunning use of doublespeak and dysphemisms. By introducing th is new phrase, the Bush administration also tried to produce a new reality in order to influe nce how people would view bombings and suicide terrorism in general. Th is seemingly innocent rhetorical device was in fact a premeditated effort to ensure the news media would detect the new catchphrase, disseminate it, and abuse it until it became engr ained in public consciousness that the key feature of these bombings was the fact they were perpetrated by terrorists and killed innocent victims. By obliterating an essential feature of suicide bombings Â– the ensured death of the bomber Â– and exp licitly targeting Palestinian te rrorist groups (and especially Arafat), all that the Bush administra tion, FoxNews, and the like accomplished was refusing even more categorically to legi timize the cause or consider the bombers
170 sensibly. This is not to say that it would have been pref erable or more productive to declare the actions of the bomb ers to be justifiable or legi timate. The peace process could have been improved, however, if the fundament ally valid political claims of the groups and their fighters (namely, the independen ce of their state) had been considered dispassionately by all involved Â– while reme mbering that the end certainly was not justifying the means. Collective insecurity and the politics of fear. The mass media play a significant role in providing, maintaining, and regulating the available fr ameworks and definitions of suicide terrorism. As a result, they help structure both public awareness of and attitudes towards suicide bombing campaigns. The mass media, however, are not the only actors involved in influencing the public Â’s perception of suicide terror ism as a critical collective threat. Political actors are also key particip ants in the social construction of suicide terrorism, the construction and advertising of collective insecurity within a wider threat structure, as well as the marketing of fear. Political actors and strategies help guarantee that Â“repressive fearÂ” remains Â“an enduring to ol of economic and political domination in the United States (Bland, 2005:2) and to ensure that the fear and collective insecurity that are associated with suic ide terrorism (or terrorism in general) supply an impetus for electoral support. This was illustrated by President BushÂ’s heavy Â“War on TerrorÂ” rhetoric during his 2004 reelection campaign. The context of collective in security and the politics of fear is suited for the analysis of the social construction of suicide terrorism (a nd vice versa): Collective insecurity is a social and political construction. Far from meaning that people live in a world of pure illusions, the idea of social and political construction of reality re fers to the manner in which actors
171 collectively make sense of the world in which they live. . .[C]ollective insecurity first emerges through th e transformation of personal and environmental matters into social and political issues. . [It] is Â‘the product of processes by which groups a nd individuals learn to acquire or create interpretations of risk . . After perceived sources of insecurity are defined as collective problems aff ecting a significant segment of the population, they can enter th e policy agenda. (2005:4) Suicide terrorism represents a highly epis odic threat (as opposed to a structural one, such as unemployment or lack of h ealthcare coverage). Within the threat infrastructure, suicide terrorism is therefore more conducive of moral panics and it allows politicians to easily inflate the threat it poses or exploit the feelings of collective insecurity it generates. What political actors want is to shape the threat of suicide terrorism and spread fear among the public, so they can later gain electoral support and influence policy outcomes. In liberal democracies, politicians purs ue at least four main goals within the political field (i.e. the structured arena of political competition). First, they seek election and reelection. Se cond, once elected, they attempt to increase their institutiona l power within their pa rty or government. Third, they seek to build a political leg acy that could make them look good to their contemporaries and to future generations. Fourth, in some contexts, politicians promote an ideological ag enda or a certain vision of Â‘public interestÂ’ in a manner that may prove unpopular and, consequently, detrimental to the attainment of the three others goals.Â” (2005:10) Two important stratagems come into play here: credit claiming and blame avoidance. They are used by politicians eith er to claim responsibility for Â“good newsÂ” related to the fight against terrorism or to pr otect elected officials from getting blamed for Â“bad news,Â” such as further suicide bombi ng attacks, which could Â“exacerbate economic, social, and environmental insecurityÂ” ( 2005:11). Unfavorable ne ws are politically hazardous since Â“elected officials are regularly blamed for Â‘bad newsÂ’ even when it is not directly related to their decisionsÂ” (Ibid.). After the September 11, 2001 events, for
172 instance, the Bush administration was heavily cr iticized for its reluctance or inability to prevent the attacks. A nati onal bipartisan commission, commonly known as the Â“9/11 Commission,Â” was even specially appointed to inve stigate the Â“terrorist attacks upon the United StatesÂ” and the failures of the admi nistration (National Co mmission on Terrorist Attacks, 2004). Therefore, blame avoidance st rategies are useful when suicide bombings or other terrorist incidents occur as they en able politicians to Â“blame their predecessors for the gaps in the security apparatus that co uld have facilitated te rrorist actionsÂ” (Bland, 2005:12-13). This is exactly what President Bush did by blaming the Clinton administration for laying a solid foundation for the massive intelligence failure that precipitated the Sept ember 2001 attacks. In addition, the threat of su icide terrorism is bound to be the center of political attention since it saturates c ontemporary media coverage. Go vernment officials and the public are seemingly passionate about finding an immediate solution to the crisis and imposing severe punishment on the cowardly and evil culprits, regardless of the inherent complexities of suicide terrorism. Â“Violent, sp ectacular, and highly episodic threats like terrorism are quicker to stimulate sweeping legislative actionsÂ” ( 2005:15) and a prefect illustration of this knee-jerk reaction is the enactment (and recent relative extension) of the infamous USA PATRIOT Act, a 342-page document that became law on October 24, 2001 (United States Senate, 2001). Finally, the social construction of suic ide terrorism, the amplification of the threat, and the increase in insecurity and fear related to it clearly influence how political agendas are established and outlined. The public interpretation of the suicide terrorist threat is what politicians rely on Â“to depict themselves as th e best providers of collective
173 protection in order to increas e their popular support and shape a positive and lasting legacyÂ” (2005:15-16). This is arguably what happened after the September 2001 attacks when President Bush chose to depict the w hole world as a dangerous place and military force as the only logical Â– not only justif ied but also mandatory Â– option against international terrorism. As a decisive stage in the social construction of suicide terrorism, agenda setting and execution Â“constitutes a key phase of the policymaking processÂ” (Bland, 2005:15). Hence it is essential to further probe the significant practical implications of the results this research project has yielded. Practical Implications of the Results Specifying and exploring the findings of th is qualitative study is a difficult task that requires a prudent appr aisal of their relevance a nd application to everyday policymaking or practice and a certain reserve concerning their relativ e significance. This innovative study neither provide s definitive answers nor aspires to be the ultimate analysis of suicide terrorism. One of the major strengths of this study is its potential for significantly contributing to our empirical understanding of suicide terrorism. This empirical and interpre tive research was designed to s ubstantively advance our knowledge about the phenomenon of suicide terrorism and its socially construc ted nature. As such, although it is not purely empiri cal, it could yield empiri cally significant results by providing researchers and po licymakers with much insi ght into the phenomenon of suicide terrorism and its prevention. There is no panacea for suicide terrorism and the purpose of this research proj ect was certainly not to find or even suggest a universal remedy for suicide bombings. Nevertheless, much practical wisdom can be derived from
174 this theoretical contribution as a whole and, mo re specifically, from the results that arose from a cunning combination of comp lementary research instruments. Countering Suicide Terrorism Contrary to common belief and what polic ymakers and the media have insinuated in the past few years, suicid e terrorism is not a new phenome non. It originated in ancient times and has simply evolved over time, deve loping as other forms of terrorism have. Thus, rather than a new weapon in the arsena l of terrorists groups, su icide terrorism is a long-standing, highly adaptive and extremely vi olent tool of propaganda by deed that is constantly reshaped by technological advan ces and contemporary social events. Its causes, manifestations, and ramifications vary across time, countries, cultures, and groups. The use of fully-fueled commercial je tliners in the September 2001 attacks, for example, proves how adaptable and destruc tive suicide terrorism can be and how the phenomenon is all but dwindling away. This is also confirmed by the increasing number of suicide bombing operations, most notably in the Middle East and Western Europe, in response to the U.S.-led Â“War on Terror Â” and the illegal oc cupation of Iraq. The urgency of developing efficient prev entive measures to uncompromisingly combat suicide terrorism was evidenced by th e unprecedented attacks orchestrated by alQaeda in the United States in September 2001. By proving its ability to permeate U.S. defensive measures and reach almost all of its intended symbolic targets, al-Qaeda showed the United States and other Western countries just how vulnerable they truly were to suicide terrorism.
175 Suicide Terrorism Prevention: Why Preventive Measures Have Not Worked The findings of this study (and history, inci dentally) illustrate th e fact that certain counter-terrorism measures, though favored by some countries, do not work to fight and prevent suicide te rrorism. First of all, conventional top-heavy coercive methods (e.g., strategic bombardment, invasion, occupation) cannot efficiently reduce popular support for suicide bombers, help capture the latter, or help eliminate such a complex and adaptable phenomenon as suicide terrorism. Co ercive and repressive measures in both Israel and Russia, for instance, have faile d to stop Palestinia n and Chechen suicide bombings. It appears that army intervention usually feeds into the problem instead of helping solve it. Indeed, it usua lly results in an upsurge in popular support for terrorist groups favoring suicide bombings. As a result the impact of such groups on the larger society (notably its ruling elites) become s greater. Preemptive strikes against wrongly perceived supporters of suicide terrorism typi cally increase the incidence of and support for suicide terror attacks. As for heavy re taliation campaigns following suicide bombings, they generally reinforce and intensify peopleÂ’ s sense of victimization and readiness to behave according to organizational doctrines an d policies structured to take advantage of such feelings. Finally, it should be noted that the outcome of the study also demonstrates why fundamentally ill-advised ethnic or racial profiling techniques and practices can only exacerbate ethno-cultural tensions and eventua lly encourage support for suicide terrorist campaigns. They also take attention and re sources away from ho megrown terrorists who may be appealed by the overall ideology opposed to President BushÂ’s outlook on the Â“War on TerrorÂ” and may be enticed by the stra tegic and tactical advantages presented by suicide bombings.
176 Social control policies are futile unless they address the actual threat objectively and take into account all its complexities. Three possible lines of defense are possible against suicide terrorism. The last line of defense consists of drastically reducing receptivity of potential recruits to recruiti ng organizations. The middle line of defense requires infiltrating and breaking up recruiti ng institutions and isolating group leaders. The first line of defense involves preventing suicide bombers from reaching their intended targets. Each line shows potenti al for effective prevention, but certain impediments may render them useless. The last line of defense (preventing suic ide bombers from reaching their intended targets) is the most expensive and least likely to succeed. Setting up checkpoints and conducting more random bag or body searches ar e not very effective security measures against people determined to die. Vulnerab le and accessible target s will always be found by determined suicide bombers. Furthermore, deploying uniformed soldiers or police officers, creating covert obser vation stations or using complex surveillance systems in order to intercept potential bombers require s a great deal of human, technological, and financial resources that may not always be available. The middle line of defense (infiltrating and breaking up recru iting institutions and isolating group leaders) may be a valuable short-term option. However, it can easily backfire considering it is likely to lead to the growth of more opposition groups or factions dedicated to the same greater cause. St ill, this approach and the previous one are the most popular in todayÂ’s War on Terror. The first Â– and most propitious Â– line of defense (significantly decreasing the responsiveness of prospective recruits) requires overcoming various obstacles for positive
177 outcomes to be reached. The first hurdle is reducing poverty, which may be ineffective and could be counterproductive if a decline in poverty for th e entire population results in a reallocation of resources that takes away some peopleÂ’s we alth. Boosting literacy rates is another issue to tackle: it may prove ine ffective and could hinde r the attainment of desired goals if improving literacy enables more people to get a hold of terrorist propaganda. Finally, putting an e nd to occupation or alleviat ing perceived degradation is a promising approach that may be ineffective if people believe the victory to have been brought about by terror (see IsraelÂ’s withdr awal from Lebanon following a string of suicide bombings). Some Promising Counterterrorism Practices Suicide terrorism is first and foremo st an institution-level phenomenon. Countering and preventing suic ide terrorism may therefore involve finding a balance between a reasonable amount of coercion and ade quate incentives, so as to induce change and lead communities to stop supporting instituti ons that recruit suicide attackers. There are of course several pitfalls to watch for. Fi rst of all, destroying the social fabric or the political structure until pe ople stop backing suicide terr orism operations (or their sponsors) is not only difficult to achieve but also morally unacceptable. For instance, the Kamikaze pilots met their demise at the end of World War II, but only after the 1945 nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasa ki. Moreover, retaliation is morally objectionable, especially if th e retaliating party is looking fo r allies in its fight against terrorism. For example, IsraelÂ’s systematic military strikes following suicide bombings have not garnered many supporters and Israel is often pointed at as the terrorist actor in the Israelo-Palestinian conflict. Finally, coercive tactics or military strategies alone can
178 intensify the problem of suic ide terrorism instead of providing any immediate or longterm solution. The example of the U.S.-led wa r in Iraq and the ensuing relentless suicide bombing campaign organized by the Iraqi insurgency is emblematic of the harmful consequences such interventions may have. Another important point to consider is that terrorist groups obtain information, recruit new members, and essentially surv ive owing to their ethnic, political, and religious connections. Terrorist groups c onsequently cannot pros per unless they get support from the community. Hence the founda tion of community support for groups and organizations sponsoring suicide bombing ope rations must be the major long-term priority of those who want to counter suicide terrorism. It is also crucial to understand and take into consideration that popular backing of suicide terrorism will not cease to exist on its own and people will not spontane ously stop being influenced by promises of spiritual or financial rewards. What the United States and its allies in the Â“War on TerrorÂ” should focus on, as should any other countries involved in the actual fight agains t suicide terrorism worldwide, is the dynamics of the phenomenon and the complex socio-cultural context it is rooted in. Scrutinizing po litical and economic conditions is critical but not enough. Identifying sacred values in different cultures and the dynamic mechanisms through which they win people over is what will allo w for a comprehensive understanding of how to keep such values from degenerating and leading to conflict be tween people. Sacred values strengthen cultural identity and faith in society. Where suicide terrorism is motivated by religion, for instance, these feel ings are affected and reshaped by terrorist group leaders, recruiters, and tr ainers, typically to the advant age of the group and not the
179 individual. Suicide terrorism prevention w ill thus require collaborative efforts by international policymakers in order to fully comprehend the socio-historical, political, and cultural circumstances and recruitment methods that moti vate people to sacrifice their own lives in suppor t of a greater cause. Informing the general public is also im portant, insofar as people will become desensitized and more confiden t if they are aware of the na ture of the threat and can readily access reliable information. Working with the media in a concerted effort to decrease popular support of suicide terrorism is therefor e primordial. Above all, the media should avoid: providing sensational coverage of suicide bombing operations; presenting suicide bombings as an effective tactic and a winning strategy for achieving political goals; glorifying suicide bomber s; presenting simplistic, one-dimensional explanations for suicide bombings; and illustrating or reporting Â“how toÂ” descriptions of suicide bombing techniques. The top priorities to successfully combat and prevent suicide terrorism should be: 1. Working with the international community to address the re al or perceived historical and personal grievances of popul ations that have been unable to fulfill basic objectives, such as personal safety, cultural recognition, so cial stability, and collective peace; 2. Encouraging Muslim communities to stop supporting religious schools and charities that play a part in terrorist networks; 3. Financing civic education and interfaith programs; 4. Creating sustained dialogue lines with Muslim religious leaders and community notables in order to ensure that Isla mic customs and religious law better
180 correspond to international legal principles of crime, punishment, and human rights; 5. Encouraging moderates in the community to consider other fruitful options for a new social order. 6. Allowing moderate members of the te rrorist groups to challenge the contradictions or shortcomings of thei r own worldviews (e.g., viewing others as evil), values (e.g., lack of respect for life), and behavi or (e.g., support for killing), and to confront other group members in or der to bring about long-term changes; 7. Supporting democratic self-determinati on, which will reduce suicide terrorism more efficiently than further military intervention or counterinsurgency aid; 8. Promoting economic choice without forci ng people to radically alter their business traditions (people should not ha ve to renounce newly acquired economic freedom for a system of privatization, Â“free marketÂ” or globalization); 9. Actively opposing violations of civil lib erties and human rights by refusing the political or military support of the countries that officially back the U.S. Â“war on terrorismÂ” but steadily violate the fundame ntal human rights of their people and reject any free political e xpression. In such countries as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Georgia, the practices of extremely repressive regimes can only spawn more popular resentment and terrorism Â– and therefore should not be supported. Using Intelligence: Why Mi ght Is Not Always Right Suicide terrorism should be fought with in telligence, not use of force. Under the Bush administration, Cold War intelligen ce policies regarding national security
181 information have been thoroughly modified in response to ongoi ng terrorist threats against the United States. The suicide terror ist attacks of September 2001 shed light on the deficiencies of the counterterrorism appara tus of the United Stat es and the failures of its own intelligence gatheri ng and analysis mechanisms. The homeland security plan subsequently devised by the Bush administ ration entails innovative intelligence efforts aimed at quashing threats within the Unite d States, protecting U.S. borders, reducing infrastructure vulnerabilitie s, and improving emergency re sponses. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is now responsible for organizing such strategies and ensuring that detailed and comprehensive inform ation reaches the people who need it. Until recently, intelligence gathering and analysis was perceived as hermetically separate from the policymaking community a nd the rest of the government. It has now become painfully obvious that such separa tion hinders counterterrorism efforts. The intelligence community must therefore strive to provide useful, timely, and accurate intelligence that meets the needs of civilian and military policymakers, as well as strategic and tactical decision-makers. The processes involved are part of what is commonly referred to as the In telligence Cycle, which consis ts of six phases: collection, evaluation, collation, analysis, production, and dissemination of information. Both the White House and the intelligence community f ace a slew of coordina tion issues in their efforts to avoid errors, mi ssed opportunities, as well as contradictory policies or superfluous measures. All actors concerned with the fight agains t suicide terrorism should keep in mind that intelligence is not purely domestic and uni lateral. It must be construed within an international and multilateral framework. As the U.S. counterterrorism intelligence
182 structure is being wholly reshap ed, it is important to rememb er that a lot can be learned from the successes and failures experienced by AmericaÂ’s allies in their fight against terrorism. Valuable counterter rorism lessons can be learne d from the experience of the domestic intelligence agencies of such countries as the Un ited Kingdom, France, Turkey, or even Israel. Optimizing information-gather ing techniques is consequently of utmost importance if governments want to develop e ffective and efficient preventive security measures to counter suicid e terrorism worldwide. To avoid intelligence and communicati on breakdowns between all the actors involved in the intelligence comm unity, it is indispensable to en sure the highest levels of coordination between all the agencies involve d in the intelligence cycle around the world. The U.S. federal government is striving to im prove how threat information is analyzed and disseminated, although much more progress is needed. A potentially useful initiative that could enhance government performance is the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC), which was introduced by Presiden t Bush in early 2003 (see Appendix C). Improving terrorism warnings and sharing actionable intelligence may also prove beneficial. For example, the DHS color-coded national threat level system, known as the Homeland Security System (see Appendix D) ha s been sharpened over the past couple of years in order to guarantee more reliable information specific to certain geographic areas and based on both actual and potential threats. It is crucial to develop not only more threat assessments but also more vulnerability assessments. Improving threat and vulnerability assessments makes it possible to develop national risk assessments for critical target sets (e.g., social or economic infrastructures, U.S. landmarks). Moreover, this could help State and local
183 governments in high-risk areas to conduct locationor community-specific risk assessments (including real-time risk assessmen ts in response to acti onable intelligence). At the same time, such assessments and the funding they generate must of course not exclude low-risk target areas. Hence the way the DHS decides on or heightens alert levels must be reliable and invariable. Flexibility in handling alerts is good; inconsistency is not. Adjusting Priorities and Re-Setting Agendas Suicide terrorism is arguably the most se rious threat in todayÂ’s war on terrorism. In order to counter and pre-empt suicid e terrorism, the intern ational intelligence community and governments around the world mu st concentrate their counterterrorism efforts on interrupting suicide terror attack s in their preparatory phase. Interrupting suicide terrorism at the planning and preparation stage is essential. It is impossible to assert or even envi sage that terrorism, especially suicide terrorism, will ever be eradicated. People ha ve fought over religious, political, and other ideological causes for centuries and it would be nave to trust that they will some day spontaneously stop doing so. Nonetheless, fo cused and concerted counterterrorism efforts are critically needed to conc retely curtail the increasing su ccess and popularity of suicide bombing operations and, ultimately, prevent or even interdict suicide terrorism. Ever since the early 1980s, policymakers have clea rly struggled with the problems posed by the resurgence and gradual metamorphosis of te rrorist suicide attacks. The challenge is getting even more complex today as terrorist groups use creative ways of reaching out to new recruits, garnering community support, a nd taking advantage of technology to attain their goals, while guaranteeing maximum dest ruction and casualties. The demise of
184 suicide terrorism may in f act depend on the willingness of Western governments to promote substantial reforms of their own political and socioeconomic structures. In order to prevent suicide terrorism, it is crucial to fully comprehend what combination of psychological and social-cultural factors exhorts people to join a terrorist group and unites them behind common ideologi es and grievances. It is furthermore important to bear in mind that radicaliz ation and the sustaina bility and growing popularity of suicide terrorism are directly a ffected by the foreign policies of the Western nations leading the Â“global war on terrorism, Â” as well as their overall social, political, economic, and cultural agendas. Since it is a prime and avowed enemy of terrorist groups today, especially those resorting to suicide te rrorism, the United States has a mo mentous responsibility to ensure that multilateral and internat ional counterterrorism efforts are well-directed, productive, and uniform across the globe (i.e., not fo cused solely upon countries where special interests are to be preser ved or advanced). The etio logy and dynamics of suicide terrorism as a complex, extremely violent, and highly adaptive form of terrorism must be thoroughly studied and clearly understood. Targ et hardening, intelligence gathering and analysis, as well as reducing community s upport for suicide bombings should be top priorities. The U.S. and others in the intelligence community must further take into account the potential use of weapons of mass destructi on (WMD) and other unconventional tactics in conjunc tion with the perpetration of suicide te rror attacks. Acting unilaterally and relying heavily on military intervention are not acceptable or productive solutions against suicide terr orism. Governments and the intelligence community must instead consider alternatives that will prove more sensible and useful in
185 the short and long term. They must take into account that supporters of suicide terrorism may be highly receptive to what soft-pow er options entail, which most Muslims are actually favorable to, such as democrati cally electing a government, enjoying civil liberties and human rights, exercising fr eedom of expression, celebrating a cultural heritage, taking advantage of educationa l opportunities, and having unlimited economic choices. In order to build these substantial conclu sions into findings th at genuinely have a practical significance, much future research is needed. Suicide terrorism has become one of the most massively debated issues in the media and political agendas today, both in the United States and abroad. Only through rigorous scholarly research will we be able to improve our insight into suicide bombings and to resourcefully impinge upon the misrepresentation of and overreaction to suic ide terrorism as a pressing socio-political problem. Study Limitations and Suggesti ons for Further Research The main objective of this research project was to provide a theoretical framework to help answer key questions on the complex subject of suicide terrorism. How is it used as a political weapon? How is it exploited as a communication tool? How is it a politicized issue that fu els moral panics? This study, in asmuch as it is essentially exploratory, does not offer fina l answers to these important questions. It does, however, offer a set of theoretical remarks based on a social constructionist approach and a symbolic interactionist perspe ctive that may well guide future scholarship about this most important issue. This study additionally deri ves its strength from its potential to inform practice and effect major policy changes thanks to a sound theo retical input. Nonetheless,
186 in order to stimulate further research about the social cons truction of suicide terrorism and the symbolism of social reality, it is im portant to highlight the main limitations of this contribution. Following this overview of study limitations, suggestions for future research will be offered. Limitations As stated earlier in this study, the credibility of a qualitative study depends upon the common understanding and interpretation of concepts by the res earcher and the study participants. Qualitative studies, by definition, call for a more personal analysis of the data collected. One may then re asonably argue that the integrit y of the data collected for this study could have been compromised by researcher bias. In addition, the study distinctively focuses on the subjective defini tional and rhetorical processes involved in the social construction of suic ide terrorism. This increases the likelihood of bias in the analysis phase. For example, with media sour ces alone, analytical pr ocedures had to be constantly adapted to check for accuracy (factu al and technical errors), bias and distortion (media accounts are rarely neut ral), and audience context (pot ential misinterpretation by an outsider). Ensuring the cred ibility of the analysis a nd the findings was therefore fraught with obstacles. However, each of them was conscientiously and methodically surmounted. First of all, credibility was optimized by conducting prolonged fieldwork during the initial G-CDMHA grant project on the phenomenology and etiology of suicide terrorism. Interim data analysis and data substantiation ensured that study findings matched participant reality. Precise accounts of interviews using verbatim statements made by the interviewees, in addition to stri ctly quoted excerpts from documents ensured
187 that the exact language used by the particip ants or in the analyzed documents were transformed into objective data. Likewise, lowinference descriptors were used, so as to accurately record detailed desc riptions of specific situations. The use of mechanically recorded data (through the extensive use of digital voice recorders, videotapes, and photographs) further ensured the accuracy and easy corroboration of the data collected. Interviewees were asked to double-check the accuracy of th e information collected. After each interview, participants were also asked to review the exactness of the information gathered and transcribed duri ng their interview(s). Finally, negative cases or conflicting data likely to either stand out as exceptions to observed patter ns or alter data patterns, if any, were controlled for, record ed, analyzed, and reported. From a purely methodological standpoint, it should further be noted that a thorough symbolic interactionist study of the construction of su icide terrorism, in order to be true to the Blumerian tr adition, should include extensive fieldwork within the secular and religious groups that have been stigmati zed and, in essence, demonized as fanatical terrorists. To fully comprehend the transact ional or interactioni st nature of the phenomenon, researchers should in vest their scholarly efforts in an objective analysis of the folk devils, their identity and status, thei r actions, their environments, and the various symbols attached to them. Such approach would be costly and time-consuming, not to mention extremely dangerous, but it w ould undoubtedly enrich our knowledge and understanding of suicide bombi ngs worldwide and, as a resu lt, promote more productive and effective measures to prevent suicide terror attacks. The limitations of the chosen purposeful sampling technique were considered, as clarified in Chapter Three, as was the subsequent likeli hood of error inherent in the
188 qualitative study design. However, the samp ling breadth of this study was wide enough that it included cases from very diverse areas of the world, political or religious backgrounds, socio-cultural frameworks, a nd more. Changes over time were not a significant risk factor insofar as the so cially constructed understanding of the phenomenon of suicide terrorism appears cons tant regardless of time and place. As for case-specific data collection methods, they we re as thorough as possi ble, including all available and accessible information sources In retrospect, it seems that snowball sampling and informal enquiries would also be useful techniques, all the more as bureaucratic hurdles and the clandestine natu re of most groups studied can occasionally make it difficult to access informants. As for the transferability of the fi ndings of this study, it depends on their usefulness to other qualitative researchers w ho would approach the analysis of suicide bombings with comparable research questions or practical inquirie s. As explained in earlier descriptions of pertinent methodologi cal concerns, the gene ralizability of the findings requires their applicabil ity as an analytic synthesis or as grounded theory. This is necessary for other researchers to conduct furt her research on the social construction of suicide terrorism. Knowledge may thus be generated not by replicating this study but, rather, where extensive corroborating data becomes available through additional case studies of the social construc tion of suicide terrorism. In this study, finding transferability was maximized by paying special attention to: (a) the researcherÂ’s ro le and relationship with the study pa rticipants; (b) the site and key informant selection process vi a purposeful sampling; (c) th e social context of both the phenomenon and the study itself; (d) the data collection and analysis strategies (including
189 the triangulation of data and methods); (e) the accuracy of the narrative data; (f) the typicality of the select ed groups or sites; (g) the specifici ty and flexibility of the analytic framework; and (h) potential alternative interp retations. It is importa nt to note that the chosen intellectual framework of this study ensures that both th e collection and the analysis of the data are constantly steered by the use of specific th eoretical concepts and models. Since this study is explicitly informed by a body of theory Â– namely social constructionism and, more specifically, sy mbolic interactionism Â– researchers or policymakers focusing on similar parameters are ultimately free to decide if the cases presented in this analysis are transferable to new and comparable research settings, or generalizable for policymaking purposes. U ltimately, what is most important to remember here is that the need for genera lization of these qualitative findings is secondary Â– or almost insignificant Â– compar ed to the significan ce of the in-depth understanding and the wealth of knowledge obtained on the phenomenon of interest. Future Research First and foremost, future research on su icide terrorism and its social construction should rely more steadily on the collection of raw data to cont ribute original information to our knowledge base of the phenomenon on th e whole. Researchers should recoil from the literature integration trend that is pl aguing suicide terrorism research today. Such approach is intellectually que stionable and does not contribute to the advancement of the scholarly study of suicide terrorism. More multiple-case studies including in-depth interviews instead of mere historical survey s should be developed in order to extend the findings of this study and continue to enrich our understanding of the reality of suicide bombings. Overall, more qualitative studies involving triangulation of data and methods
190 appear to be crucial to the formation of a methodologically sound, reliable body of scholarly literature on this highly relevant socio-political issue. Moreover, it is of utmost importance t oday to favor methodological designs that will enable researchers to integrate micro and macro levels of analysis in order to study suicide bombings and bombers more comprehens ively, both at the individual level and at the institutional or structural level. Viewing suicide terrorism as the sole outcome of individual rational choice is simplistic. Li kewise, interpreting su icide bombings as the manifestations of structural dysfunction is dubi ous at best. In order to be comprehensive and reliable scholarly research should instead of opting for one-dimensional explanations, delve into i ndividual motivational factor s while incorporating group dynamics and social or institutional elements as well. Terrorist campaigns never happen in a vacuum: the importance of individual factors must be evaluated against the significance of structural ones a nd vice versa. Future research must therefore integrate a combination of psychological, political, histor ical, economic, and socio-cultural factors to explicate what exhort people to join a terrorist group, un ite behind common ideologies and grievances, and give their own life for wh at they perceive to be a noble cause. A related and potentially promising res earch endeavor would consist of studying suicide bombings from a perspective focusing on the social causes of the act of suicide itself. Instead of concentrating on or exa ggerating the individual motivations of the bombers, such as suicidality or other pat hological or clinical features, informed researchers should favor a more pragma tic methodology based on the fundamentally selfless nature of the act. Gi ve up oneÂ’s life in a suicide bombing is more an expressive act than an instrumental one. It is the e xpression of an emotion resulting from group
191 dynamics and ideological motivation to fight for a just cause and die a noble death. Researchers should not consider suicide bom bings as the outcome of a cost-benefit calculation or as a means to an end, as is re gularly the case in the extant literature. In order to be fruitful, scholarly efforts s hould instead be focuse d on analyzing suicide bombings as ultimate examples of altruistic suicide, in the Durkheimian sense, not manifestations of egoistic, anomic, or fatalist ic types of suicide ch aracterized by lack of status or religious integration or by the state of social regulation. The political ramifications of the social construction of suicide terrorism deserve much more attention in scholar ly writings. Specifically, more studies need to investigate the politicization of suicide bombings and their resonance within more general trends: the politicization of law and order and the politicizati on of religion and religiosity. These are significant elements of todayÂ’s U.S.-led Â“War on TerrorÂ” and foreign policy as a whole, both inside and outside of the United States Researchers should try to determine how these multiple facets of politic ization affect public policy re garding terrorism in general and suicide terrorism in particular, all the more as the sustainability and increasing popularity of the tactic are significantly conditioned by the foreign policies of the Western nations implicated in the Â“War on Terror.Â” Similarly, the threat infrastructure of anti-terrorism policies is worthy of further analysis as well. The research community and policymakers (and ultimately society at large) would greatly benefit from a carefu l examination of the reasons why suicide terrorism has generated such a moral panic wh ile other insecurity episodes have not (and probably never will). It would also be tremendously worthwh ile to scrutini ze why suicide bombings have been only marginalized and e ssentially minimized in some areas of the
192 world, while they have resulted in outbursts of fear, anger, and anxiety elsewhere. Future studies should therefore probe not only the role of the mass media in the social construction of suicide terrorism and the creat ion of synthetic panics that stigmatize and demonize Â“the Other,Â” but also how political actors actively contribut e to the politics of collective insecurity, including the subjective or selective formation of the threats and the propagation and marketing of fear. Such studies could focus on both proactive involvement (political actors w ho are influential in getting a threat on the policy agenda) and reactive roles (political actors who tr y to influence the threat awareness and assessment once others have tu rned the threat into a ke y socio-political issue). Scholars should earnestly endeavor to c ontribute to the development of a more impartial analysis of suicide terrorism and its social construction not only by contributing sound research to academic journals with a li mited readership, but also by offering their scientific, unbiased knowledge to th e media and policymakers. Newsmaking criminologists, for instance, could play a signi ficant role in the presentation of a more objective interpretation of suicide bombings and a more realistic image of the dynamics involved. This would help demystify the phenomenon by offsetting the subjective and overdramatic nature of contemporary medi a coverage of suicide bombings, which typically favors the sensationa listic and highly selective treatm ent of events in regions of the world where the United States has politic al or economic interests. Truly fair and balanced information would finally take over the promotion of self-interests. Above all, principled scholars must strive to develop an original and cohesive research agenda to not only ensure fruitful investigative efforts but also promote a thorough, objective investigation of the comp lex dynamics of suicide bombings. Suicide
193 terrorism must be analyzed methodically and Â– above all Â– dispassi onately, as a relative phenomenon that occurs within diverse cultures and evolves within a variety of symbolic frameworks and moral universes. More studie s of suicide bombings should focus on the dynamics of the phenomenon, as well as the dyna mics of human intera ction in general as it influences peopleÂ’s symbolic framework for interpreti ng and understanding this violent tactic. Suicide terrorism should not be viewed as a static or monolithic social problem that does not vary across countries or cultu res. Only a dispassionate and methodically sound analysis including a variety of pers pectives on the issue will foster a clear understanding of the reality and dynamics of suicide bombings. Only objective, elaborate scholarly studies and methodical investigations of the phenomenon and its intricate context can eff ectively filter through the socio-political processes, bureaucratic mechanisms, and media structures invol ved in the social construction of suicide terrorism. Such analyses have the potential to significantly affect all major actors in the moral panic surroundi ng suicide bombings today: the folk devils, the media, the public, and the agents of so cial control involved in rule creation and enforcement. Today, the dominant interpre tational framework promotes a simplistic dualism of suicide terrorism as a violent pol itical and religious w eapon that evidences a fundamental misunderstanding of suicide bombings, in addition to a misleading, counterproductive, and therefore harmful constr ual of the threat th ey pose worldwide. This has already had serious adverse conse quences: a chronic lack of knowledge about the context and symbols of suicide terrorism; the trivialization and misrepresentation of meanings and beliefs associated with su icide bombers; a mass media and ideological exploitation of suicide bombings as deviant or even evil acts; extreme perceptions and
194 moral campaigns that spill into subjective inte rpretations of the actors behind the violence (on both sides) and result in moral panics; the adoption of misguided, inappropriate, and arbitrary policies; the polarization of demonized deviants against the rest of society; and the increased cohesion of terrorist groups in response to misguided counterterrorism measures or suppression attempts by ill-advised ag ents of social contro l. Still, amidst all these negative outcomes is a fantastically fert ile ground for excellent re search in the near future. May the high potential for controversy not be a deterrent.
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254 Appendix A: Foreign Terrori st Organizations (2005) 1. Abu Nidal Organization (ANO) 2. Abu Sayyaf Group 3. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade 4. Ansar al-Islam 5. Armed Islamic Group (GIA) 6. Asbat al-Ansar 7. Aum Shinrikyo 8. Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) 9. Communist Party of the Philippines/ New People's Army (CPP/NPA) 10. Continuity Irish Republican Army 11. GamaÂ’a al-Islamiyya (Islamic Group) 12. HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) 13. Harakat ul-Mujahidin (HUM) 14. Hizballah (Party of God) 15. Islamic Jihad Group 16. Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) 17. Jaish-e-Mohammed (JEM) (Army of Mohammed) 18. Jemaah Islamiya organization (JI) 19. al-Jihad (Egyptian Islamic Jihad) 20. Kahane Chai (Kach) 21. Kongra-Gel (KGK, formerly Kurdista n Workers' Party, PKK, KADEK) 22. Lashkar-e Tayyiba (LT) (Army of the Righteous)
255 Appendix A: (Continued) 23. Lashkar i Jhangvi 24. Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) 25. Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) 26. Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group (GICM) 27. Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization (MEK) 28. National Liberation Army (ELN) 29. Palestine Liberation Front (PLF) 30. Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) 31. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLF) 32. PFLP-General Command (PFLP-GC) 33. al-QaÂ’ida 34. Real IRA 35. Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) 36. Revolutionary Nuclei (formerly ELA) 37. Revolutionary Organization 17 November 38. Revolutionary PeopleÂ’s Liberati on Party/Front (DHKP/C) 39. Salafist Group for Call and Combat (GSPC) 40. Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso, SL) 41. Tanzim Qa'idat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafid ayn (QJBR) (al-Qaida in Iraq) (formerly Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'al-Jihad, JTJ, al-Zarqawi Network) 42. United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC)
256 Appendix A: (Continued) Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTOs) are foreign organizations that are designated by the Secretary of State in accordance with se ction 219 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended. FTO desi gnations play a critical role in our fight against terrorism and are an effective means of curtailing support for terrorist activities and pressuring groups to get out of the terrorism business. Identification The Office of the Coordinator for Count erterrorism in the State Department (S/CT) continually monitors the activities of terrorist groups activ e around the world to identify potential targets for designation. When reviewing potential targets, S/CT looks not only at the actual terrorist attacks that a group has carried out, but also at whether the group has engaged in planning and preparations for possible future acts of terrorism or retains the capability and inte nt to carry out such acts. Designation Once a target is identified, S/CT prepar es a detailed "administrative record," which is a compilation of information, typi cally including both classified and open sources information, demonstrating that the st atutory criteria for designation have been satisfied. If the Secretary of State, in c onsultation with the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, d ecides to make the designation, Congress is notified of the SecretaryÂ’s intent to designa te the organization and given seven days to review the designation, as the INA requires. Upon the e xpiration of the seven-day waiting period
257 Appendix A: (Continued) and in the absence of Congressional acti on to block the desi gnation, notice of the designation is published in the Federal Register at which point th e designation takes effect. By law an organization designated as an FTO may seek judi cial review of the designation in the United States Court of App eals for the District of Columbia Circuit not later than 30 days after the designation is published in the Federal Register Until recently the INA provided that FTOs must be redesignated every two years or the designation would lapse. Under the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 (IRTPA), however, the redesignatio n requirement was replaced by certain review and revocation procedur es. IRTPA provides that an FTO may file a petition for revocation 2 years after its desi gnation date (or in the case of redesignated FTOs, its most recent redesignation date) or 2 years after the determination date on its most recent petition for revocation. In order to provide a basis for revocation, the petitioning FTO must provide evidence that the circumstan ces forming the basis for the designation are sufficiently different as to warrant revocation. If no such review has been conducted during a five year period with respect to a designation, then the Secretary of State is required to review the designation to determin e whether revocation woul d be appropriate. In addition, the Secretary of State may at any time revoke a designation upon a finding that the circumstances forming the basis fo r the designation have changed in such a manner as to warrant revocation, or that th e national security of the United States warrants a revocation. The same procedural re quirements apply to revocations made by the Secretary of State as apply to designa tions. A designation may be revoked by an Act of Congress, or set aside by a Court order.
258 Appendix A: (Continued) Legal Criteria for Designation under Section 219 of the INA as amended 1. It must be a foreign organization. 2. The organization must engage in terrorist activity as defined in section 212 (a)(3)(B) of the INA (8 U. S.C. Â§ 1182(a)(3)(B)),* or terrorism as defined in section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 (22 U.S.C. Â§ 2656f(d)(2)),** or retain the capability and intent to engage in terrorist activity or terrorism 3. The organizationÂ’s terrorist act ivity or terrorism must thre aten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security (nationa l defense, foreign relations, or the economic interests) of the United States. Legal Ramifications of Designation 1. It is unlawful for a person in the United St ates or subject to the jurisdiction of the United States to knowingly provide "m aterial support or resources" to a designated FTO. (The term "material suppor t or resources" is defined in 18 U.S.C. Â§ 2339A(b)(1) as any property, tangible or intangible, or service, including currency or monetary instruments or fi nancial securities, financial services, lodging, training, expert advi ce or assistance, safehouses, false documentation or identification, communications equipment, f acilities, weapons, lethal substances, explosives, personnel (1 or more individua ls who maybe or include oneself), and transportation, except medicine or reli gious materials.Â” 18 U.S.C. Â§ 2339A(b)(2) provides that for these purposes Â“the term Â‘trainingÂ’ means instruction or teaching
259 Appendix A: (Continued) designed to impart a specific skill, as opposed to general knowledge.Â” 18 U.S.C. Â§ 2339A(b)(3) further provides that for thes e purposes the term Â‘expert advice or assistanceÂ’ means advice or assistance deri ved from scientific, technical or other specialized knowledge.Â’Â’ 2. Representatives and members of a designated FTO, if they are aliens, are inadmissible to and, in certain circumst ances, removable from the United States (see 8 U.S.C. Â§Â§ 1182 (a)(3)(B)( i)(IV)-(V), 1227 (a)(1)(A)). 3. Any U.S. financial institu tion that becomes aware th at it has possession of or control over funds in which a designated FTO or its agent has an interest must retain possession of or contro l over the funds and report the funds to the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the U. S. Department of the Treasury. Other Effects of Designation 1. Supports our efforts to curb terrorism fina ncing and to encourage other nations to do the same. 2. Stigmatizes and isolates designated terro rist organizations internationally. 3. Deters donations or contributions to and economic transactions with named organizations. 4. Heightens public awareness and know ledge of terrorist organizations. 5. Signals to other governments our concern about named organizations.
260 Appendix A: (Continued) Section 212(a)(3)(B) of the INA defines "t errorist activity" to mean: "any activity which is unlawful under the laws of the place where it is committed (or which, if committed in the United States, would be unlaw ful under the laws of the United States or any State) and which involves any of the following: (I) The highjacking or sabotage of any conveyance (including an aircraft, vessel, or vehicle). (II) The seizing or de taining, and threatening to ki ll, injure, or continue to detain, another individual in order to compel a third person (including a governmental organization) to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the individual seized or detained. (III) A violent attack upon an internationally protected person (as defined in section 1116(b)(4) of title 18, United States Code) or upon the liberty of such a person. (IV) An assassination. (V) The use of any-(a) biological agent, chemical agent, or nuclear weapon or device, or (b) explosive, firearm, or other weapon or dangerous device (other than for mere personal monetary gain), with intent to endange r, directly or indirec tly, the safety of one or more individuals or to cause substantial damage to property. (VI) A threat, attempt, or conspiracy to do any of the foregoing."
261 Appendix A: (Continued) Other pertinent portions of section 212(a)(3)(B) are set forth below: (iv) Engage in Terrori st Activity Defined As used in this chapter [chapter 8 of the INA], the term Â‘engage in terrorist activityÂ’ means in an individual capacity or as a member of an organizationÂ– 1. to commit or to incite to commit, under circumstances indicating an intention to cause death or serious bodily injury, a terrorist activity; 2. to prepare or plan a terrorist activity; 3. to gather information on potential targets for terrorist activity; 4. to solicit funds or other things of value forÂ– (aa) a terrorist activity; (bb) a terrorist organiza tion described in clause (vi)(I) or (vi)(II); or (cc) a terrorist organization described in clause (vi)(III), unless the solicitor can demonstrate that he did not know, and s hould not reasonably have known, that the solicitation would further the orga nizationÂ’s terrorist activity; I. to solicit any individualÂ– (aa) to engage in conduce otherw ise described in this clause; (bb) for membership in terrorist organi zation described in cl ause (vi)(I) or (vi)(II); or (cc) for membership in a terrorist organiza tion described in clause (vi)(III), unless the solicitor can demonstrate that he did not know, and should not reasonably have known, that the solicitation would further the organizationÂ’s terrorist activity; or
262 Appendix A: (Continued) II. to commit an act that the actor knows, or reasonably should know, affords material support, includi ng a safe house, transportation, communications, funds, transfer of f unds or other material financial benefit, false documentation or identification, weapons (including chemical, biological, or radiologica l weapons), explosives, or trainingÂ– (aa) for the commission of a terrorist activity; (bb) to any individual who the acto r knows, or reasonably should know, has committed or plans to comm it a terrorist activity; (cc) to a terrorist organi zation described in clause (vi)(I) or (vi)(II); or (dd) to a terrorist organization described in clause (vi)(III), unless the actor can demonstrate that he did not know, and shoul d not reasonably have known, that the act would further the organizationÂ’s terrorist activity. This clause shall not apply to any mate rial support the alien afforded to an organization or individual that has committed terro rist activity, if the Secretary of State, after consultation with the Attorney General, or the Attorney General, after consultation with the Secretary of State, concludes in his sole unreviewable discretion, that that this clause should not apply." (v) Representative Defined As used in this paragraph, the term Â‘repres entativeÂ’ includes an officer, official, or spokesman of an organization, and any pe rson who directs, counsels, commands, or induces an organization or its member s to engage in terrorist activity.
263 Appendix A: (Continued) (i) Terrorist Orga nization Defined As used in clause (i)(VI) and clause (iv), the term Â‘terrorist or ganizationÂ’ means an organization-I. designated under section 219 [8 U.S.C. Â§ 1189]; II. otherwise designated, upon publication in th e Federal Register, by the Secretary of State in consultation w ith or upon the request of the Attorney Gene ral, as a terrorist organization, after finding that the organi zation engages in the activities described in subclause (I), (II), or ( III) of clause (iv), or that the organization provides material support to further terrorist activity; or III. that is a group of two or more individua ls, whether organized or not, which engages in the activities described in subclause (I), (II), or (III) of clause (iv). ** Section 140(d)(2) of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 1988 and 1989 defines "terrorism" as "premeditated, pol itically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnationa l groups or clandestine agents." Source: United States Department of State, 2005 (http://www.state.gov)
264 Appendix B: Suicide Terrorism Grant Questions 1. To what extent does your work expose you to or require you to deal with the phenomenon of suicide terrorism? 2. Suicide terrorism is not a sui generis phenomenon, but an integral feature of the historical development of oppositional terrorism worldwide. It is usually the result of an assortment of typical tactics, go als, and motives characteristic of more conventional terrorism. Should the same tactics and policies that have been implemented to fight terrorism in general be applied to suicide terrorism? Why / Why not? 3. If you answered Â“yesÂ” to Question 2, how do you suggest the same policies be applied to both dimensions? If you answered Â“no,Â” how would you develop policies to specifically and effectively target suicide terrorism? 4. Suicide terrorism is not a new phenomenon e ither. It is rooted in the historical, social, and psychological dimensions of in ternational terrorism, as a result of centuries of opposition between various te rrorist groups and their actual or perceived enemies. How can governme nts, non-governmental organizations (NGOÂ’s), and other entities efficiently a nd effectively take all these different dimensions of suicide terrorism into account? 5. Suicide terror operations are politically motivated violent attacks perpetrated by self-aware individuals who actively a nd purposely cause their own death by blowing themselves up along with their chos en target(s). How can the inherently political nature of the problem be addressed?
265 Appendix B: (Continued) 6. Suicide terrorism has become one of th e most spectacular and dreadful weapons available to terrorists (a long with blowing up airpla nes in mid air and using weapons of mass destruction). How high of a priority is suicide terrorism in your agency/country today? 7. If applicable, how has your country addressed the probl em of suicid e terrorism thus far? 8. If applicable, has your agen cy/organization compiled a da tabase of past suicide terror attacks? If so, how has it been used? 9. If a suicide terror attack o ccurred in your jurisdiction or country next week, how prepared would you (i.e., as an agency or a country) be to respond to the critical incident and manage its outcomes? 10. If a suicide terror attack o ccurred in your jurisdiction or country next week, what protocols would be set into motion in or der to respond to and recover from the incident? 11. Has there been any attempt in your count ry at training first responders and law enforcement personnel in general to respond specifically to suicide terror attacks (at the local, regional or national level)? 12. About fifteen religious or secular terrori st groups have used or are capable of using suicide terrorism ag ainst their own governments and foreign governments. How important is it to adapt antiterroris m and counterterrorism strategies to the secular or religious nature of the terrorist group resorting to suicide terrorism?
266 Appendix B: (Continued) 13. How should antiterrorism and counterterrori sm strategies be tailored to fit the nature of the threat? 14. One of the distinctive characteristics of suicide terrorism is the motive of individual self-sacrifice and martyrdo m. How can these two elements be specifically addressed in developing and en forcing policies to counter and prevent suicide terrorism? 15. How can strategies and policies be formul ated and enforced in order to address the issue of suicide terrorism at the micro(individual), meso(group), and macro(societal) levels? 16. Should these levels be clearly identifi ed and autonomously targeted by these antiterrorism and counterterrorism stra tegies or policies? Why / Why not? 17. Suicide terrorism represents a substantia l intensification of a groupÂ’s terrorist activity. Suicide terrorism is difficult to combat; it results in high casualty tolls and often inspires consider able religious and/or ideological zeal. When suicide terrorism is associated with religious extremism, what kind of strategies and public policies do you suggest be created/implemented? 18. Secular groups may also resort to suic ide bombings in their terrorist campaigns. Two examples are the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka and KONGRA-GEL (former PKK) in Turkey. The latter has stopped using suicide terrorism as a tactic, whereas the LTTE is still the world le ader in suicide terrorism. Given the context of the Kurd ish issue, why do you think a group like PKK/KONGRA-GEL gave up?
267 Appendix B: (Continued) 19. What policies could be enforced in orde r to incite a secu lar group (e.g., the LTTE) to stop using suicide terrorism and ultimately cease resorting to terrorism in general? 20. Suicide terror attacks are either battle field operations (e.g., Japanese Kamikazes during WWII, Â“enemy combatantsÂ” in Iraq in the past few months) or off-thebattlefield operations involving single suicide bombers and sometimes even multiple suicide bombers (e.g., Hamas, LTTE) Should strategies and policies be different depending on the type of operations concerned? 21. Or should they be applicable to both but flexible e nough to adapt to the kind of operations a region/country may face? 22. The targets of suicide terror operations ar e generally varied. They can be either stationary or mobile, human beings or infr astructures; their nature can be civilian, military, political, economic, or cultural. How can comprehensive strategies be developed to include al l potential targets? 23. What are the practical risks involved in creating and implementing such wideranging strategies (cos t, paranoia, etc.)? 24. The high number of casualties in suic ide attacks warrants worldwide media coverage, which guarantees suicide terrori st groups exposure on the international scene. How may media coverage affect the effectiveness and potential of antiterrorism and counter terrorism strategies? 25. In light of current or recent events, should the role of the mass media be downplayed or enhanced?
268 Appendix B: (Continued) 26. The participation of women in suicide te rrorism, though not a new feature, is an increasing phenomenon that has compelle d authorities to react accordingly (e.g., by adapting their profiling techniques). How can preventive and operational strategies address this particular issue? 27. Can criminal/psychological profiling be an effective tool in the fight against suicide terrorism? Why / Why not? 28. The primary purpose of contemporary suic ide terrorism is to cause maximum physical damage and subsequently paraly ze entire populations with overwhelming fear and angst. This guarantees the deva stating, negative psyc hological effect of the impromptu operations (traumatic stre ssors) not only on the direct victims of the attacks, but also on entire populations. What policies exist in your country to address the psychological consequences or overall mental health outcomes of suicide terrorism? Primary victims (individuals directly exposed to the elements of the suicide terror attack, who experien ced the life-threatening situation personally) Secondary victims (close family me mbers and personal friends of the primary victims) Tertiary victims (individuals whos e occupation demand they respond to the attack) Quaternary victims (displaced workers, as well as sensitive and caring members of communities in and bey ond the directly impacted areas)
269 Appendix B: (Continued) 29. Suicide terrorism is not a domestic probl em affecting certain countries, but an international phenomenon that endanger s the safety of entire populations. How important is it for law enforcement and intelligence agencies to communicate, share intelligence and expertise, an d expand their existing cooperation? 30. Several terrorist groups have been buildi ng worldwide networks to mainly ensure their logistical growth and financial stability. Should uniform international policies be formulated and enforced in or der to: (a) freeze the financial assets of terrorist groups; (b) prohibit fundraising in th e name of religious or social goals to actually finance terrorist opera tions or propaganda activities? 31. Should uniform international policies be formulated and enforced in order to prohibit governments from sponsoring or actively participatin g in terrorism and suicide terrorism? 32. What kind of new technologies and tactics could be deve loped to counter suicide terrorism at the international level? 33. How should existing special counterterrorist units (task forces) be strengthened? 34. Should international funds be allotted to conduct more research on countering suicide terrorism? 35. Additional comments.
270 Appendix C: Strengthening Intelligen ce to Better Protect America (2003) The Terrorist Threat Integration Center In his January 2003 State of the Union Address, President Bush announced a new initiative to better protect America by contin uing to close the Â“seamÂ” between analysis of foreign and domestic in telligence on terrorism. The President announced that he had instruct ed the Director of Central Intelligence, the Director of the FBI, working with the Attorn ey General, and the Secretaries of Homeland Security and Defense to develop the NationÂ’s first unified Terroris t Threat Integration Center. This new center will merge and analy ze terrorist-related information collected domestically and abroad in orde r to form the most comprehens ive possible threat picture. Since September 11, 2001, the U.S. government has been working together and sharing information like never before. The cr eation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center is the next phase in the dram atic enhancement of the governmentÂ’s counterterrorism effort. The President has now directed his senior advisors to take the next step in ensuring that intelligence inform ation from all sources is shared, integrated, and analyzed seamlessly -and then acted upon quickly. The Administration will ensure that this pr ogram is carried out c onsistently with the rights of Americans.
271 Appendix C: (Continued) The New Terrorist Threat Integration Center Elements of the Department of Home land Security, the FBIÂ’s Counterterrorism Division, the DCIÂ’s Counterterror ist Center, and the Departme nt of Defense will form a Terrorist Threat Integration Ce nter to fuse and analyze allsource information related to terrorism. The Terrorist Threat Integration Center will continue to close the Â“seamÂ” between analysis of foreign and domestic intelligence on terrorism. Specifically, it will: Optimize use of terrorist threat-related in formation, expertise, and capabilities to conduct threat analysis and in form collection strategies. Create a structure that ensures inform ation sharing across agency lines. Integrate terrorist-related information collected domestically and abroad in order to form the most comprehensiv e possible threat picture. Be responsible and accountable for providi ng terrorist threat assessments for our national leadership. The Terrorist Threat Integration Center wi ll be headed by a senior U.S. Government official, who will report to the Director of Central Intelligence. This individual will be appointed by the Director of Central Intelligen ce, in consultation with the Director of the FBI and the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, a nd the Secretary of Homeland Security. The Terrorist Threat Integration Center wi ll play a lead role in overseeing a national counterterrorism tasking and requirements system and for maintaining shared databases.
272 Appendix C: (Continued) The Terrorist Threat Integration Center wi ll also maintain an up-to-date database of known and suspected terrorists that will be a ccessible to federal and non-federal officials and entities, as appropriate. In order to carry out its re sponsibilities effectively, the Terrorist Threat Integration Center will have access to al l intelligence information -fr om raw reports to finished analytic assessments -available to the U.S. Government. A senior multiagency team will finalize the details, design, and implementation strategy for the stand-up of the Terro rist Threat Integration Center. Transforming the Federal Bureau of Investigation Immediately after September 11, the Presid ent directed the FBI and the Attorney General to make preventing futu re terrorist attacks against the homeland their top priority -and they have responded. The FBI has: Disrupted terrorist pl ots on U.S. soil. Established 66 Joint Terrorism Task Forces across America, with full participation from, and enhanced communications with, multiple federal, state, and local agencies. Created a National Joint Terrorism Ta sk Force at FBI Headquarters. Established a 24-7 Counterterrorism Watch center. Created new counterterrorism Â“Flying S quadsÂ” to deploy into the field at a momentÂ’s notice.
273 Appendix C: (Continued) Created Intelligence Reports Offices to faci litate the vital flow of information. Trained new analysts for the Counterte rrorism Division, using a curriculum developed with assistance from the CIA. The FBI is establishing an intelligence program to ensure that the collection and dissemination of intelligence is given the same institutional priority as the collection of evidence for prosecution. A new Executive Assistant Director for Intelligence will have direct authority and responsibility for the FB IÂ’s national intelligence program. The FBI is establishing intelligence units in all of its Field Offices. The FBI is implementing a revolutionary new data management system to ensure that it shares all the FBIÂ’s terrorism-related info rmation internally and with the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, and other appropriate agencies. Last year, by enacting the USA PATRIOT Act, the President and Congress took an important step to enhance the ability of the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute terrorism, and to share information with other government agencies. Enhancing CIAÂ’s Counterte rrorism Capabilities Counterterrorism is a long-standing priority of the CIA and the CIA has been pivotal to the major successes in AmericaÂ’s War on Terror. The CIA has: Disrupted dozens of planned terr orist attacks around the world. Continued to expand our insight into terrorist organizations and plans. Greatly enhanced its working relatio nships with foreign partners.
274 Appendix C: (Continued) Since September 11, 2001, the Director of Central Intelligence has dramatically redeployed analysts and operatives agai nst the terrorist target. He has: Doubled the size of the Counterterrorist Center. Quadrupled the number of personnel e ngaged in counterterrorism analysis. Detailed 25 experienced analysts to work si de by side with their counterparts at FBI. The DCI created the position of Associat e Director of Central Intelligence for Homeland Security to ensure timely, effective and secure flow of intelligence to agencies engaged in Homeland Security. A Key Role for the Department of Homeland Security The Department of Homeland Security will a dd critical new capabilities in the area of information analysis and infrastructure protection. The DepartmentÂ’s Information Analysis and Infrastructure Protection Directorate will: Perform comprehensive vulnerability a ssessments of the NationÂ’s critical infrastructure and key assets. Receive and analyze terrorism-related in formation from the Terrorism Threat Integration Center, as well as open sources the public, private industry, state and local law enforcement, and the entire federal family. Map the threats against our vulnerabilities, in order to develop a comprehensive picture of the terrorist threat a nd our ability to withstand it.
275 Appendix C: (Continued) Take and facilitate actio n to protect against identified threats, remedy vulnerabilities, and preempt and disrupt terro rist threats, as consistent with the operational authorities of the Depa rtmentÂ’s constituent agencies. Set national priorities for infrastructure protection, strategically designed to maximize the return on the investment. Take a lead role in issuing warnings threat advisories, and recommended response measures to AmericaÂ’s public safe ty agencies, elected officials, industry, and the public. The Department will be a full partner in the Terrorist Threat Integration Center. The Terrorist Threat Integration Center wi ll help the Department perform its critical missions. It will provide the Department with a full and comprehensive picture of the terrorist threat that will inform the actions of the Department. Some of the DepartmentÂ’s functions are expe cted to be performed at the new facility housing the Terrorist Threat In tegration Center. The integr ation of elements of the Department into the Terrorist Threat Integr ation Center will ensu re an unimpeded twoway flow of terrorist threat information. The Department of Homeland Security, wo rking hand in hand with the FBI, will be responsible for ensuring that threat info rmation, including information produced by the Center, is disseminated quickly to the pub lic, private industry, and state and local governments as appropriate.
276 Appendix C: (Continued) Contributions of the Department of Defense The Department of Defense has been a key player in the global war on terrorism, including prosecuting the wa r on terrorism overseas. Intelligence elements of the Department, including the Na tional Security Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, the National Imagery and Mapping Agency, conti nue to make crucial contributions to our terrorism intelligence collection overseas. Appropriate DOD intelligence elements will participate fully in the TTIC, providing information, receiving information, and contribut ing to analytic efforts, under their own current authorities. DOD will have no new operational authority or responsibility unde r the President's announced program. The TTIC does not involve new activities by DOD; rather, it seeks to maximize and "fuse" the efforts of all of our counterterrorism intelligence efforts, as has been called for by many expe rts on both sides of the aisle. Source: U.S. Department of St ate, 2003 (http://www.state.gov)
277 Appendix D: Homeland Security Advisory System Guidance for Federal Departments and Agencies The world has changed since September 11, 2001. We remain a nation at risk to terrorist attacks and will remain at risk for the fore seeable future. At all Threat Conditions, we must remain vigilant, prepared, a nd ready to deter terrorist attacks. The following Threat Conditions each represent an increasing risk of terrorist attacks. Beneath each Threat Condition are some suggested Protective Measur es, recognizing that the heads of Federal departments and agencies are responsible for developing and implementing appropriate agency-specific Protective Measures: 1. Low Condition (Green). This condition is declar ed when there is a low risk of terrorist attacks. Federal departments and agencies should cons ider the following general measures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures they develop and implement: Refining and exercising as appropriate preplanned Protective Measures; Ensuring personnel receive proper training on the Home land Security Advisory System and specific preplanned department or agency Protective Measures; and Institutionalizing a process to assure that all facilities and re gulated sectors are regularly assessed for vulnerabilities to terrorist attacks, and all reasonable measures are taken to mitig ate these vulnerabilities.
278 Appendix D: (Continued) 2. Guarded Condition (Blue). This condition is declared when there is a general risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the Protective Measures take n in the previous Threat Condition, Federal departments and agencies should consider the following general measures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures that they will develop and implement: Checking communications with designated emergency response or command locations; Reviewing and updating emergenc y response procedures; and Providing the public with any information th at would strengthen its ability to act appropriately. 3. Elevated Condition (Yellow). An Elevated Condition is declared when there is a significant risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the Protective Measures taken in the previous Threat Conditions, Federal departments and agencies should consider the following general measures in addition to the Protective Measures that they will develop and implement: Increasing surveillance of critical locations; Coordinating emergency plans as appr opriate with nearby jurisdictions; Assessing whether the precise characteristi cs of the threat require the further refinement of preplanned Protective Measures; and Implementing, as appropriate, continge ncy and emergency response plans.
279 Appendix D: (Continued) 4. High Condition (Orange). A High Condition is declared when there is a high risk of terrorist attacks. In addition to the Protective Measures taken in the previous Threat Conditions, Federal departments and agencies should consider the following general measures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures that they will develop and implement: Coordinating necessary security effort s with Federal, State, and local law enforcement agencies or any National Gu ard or other appropriate armed forces organizations; Taking additional precautions at public events and possibly considering alternative venues or even cancellation; Preparing to execute contingency procedures such as moving to an alternate site or dispersing their workforce; and Restricting threatened facility ac cess to essential personnel only. 5. Severe Condition (Red). A Severe Condition refl ects a severe risk of terrorist attacks. Under most circumstances, the Protective Measures for a Severe Condition are not intended to be sustained for substantial peri ods of time. In addition to the Protective Measures in the previous Threat Conditions Federal departments and agencies also should consider the following general meas ures in addition to the agency-specific Protective Measures that they will develop and implement:
280 Appendix D: (Continued) Increasing or redirecting personnel to address critical emergency needs; Assigning emergency response personnel and pre-positioning and mobilizing specially trained teams or resources; Monitoring, redirecting, or constrai ning transportation systems; and Closing public and government facilities. Source: U.S. Department of Homela nd Security, 2005 (http://www.dhs.gov)
About the Author Ccile Van de Voorde graduated from law school (Universit Pierre Mends France, Grenoble, France) in 1998 and earned a Master of Arts in Criminology from Indiana State University (Terre Haute, Indi ana) in 2000. She joined the University of South Florida as a Presidentia l Doctoral Fellow in 2001 and was awarded the prestigious fellowship throughout her five years in the U SF Department of Criminology. While in the Ph.D. program, Ms. Van de Voorde authored and co-authored se veral publications, directed a two-year research grant on suic ide terrorism, and presented many research papers at national and international meetings In 2005, she received an Adjunct Professor appointment to teach senior seminars in the Department of Criminology. Her research areas include cultural criminology, media a nd crime, political violence, and visual studies. In July 2006, she is jo ining the faculty of the Depa rtment of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Anthropology at Texas Christia n University (Fort Worth, Texas) as an Assistant Professor.