Where Do Suicide Bombers Come From?
But seriously, I am very much a skeptic as to Leavitt's prospects in discovering some pattern to the lives of suicide bombers. I found out where suicide bombing as a tactic originated during my absence, while researching a comment for Battlepanda's site. And it made me realize just how odd a tactic it is. There are very few cultures that could come up with the idea of throwing away your life just to spitefully take as many of the enemy with you as possible. It is as if you are dying on principle and not for any material reason. In fact, there is only one culture that I know of that is this weirdly obsessed with suicide: the Japanese.
In 1972, three Marxist Japanese nationals attacked the Lod airport in Israel as a show of Communist solidarity with the PLO. The PLO was surprised by the idea that these Japanese terrorists were willing to attack without any plan for escape. When one of the three committed suicide on the tarmac by pressing a grenade against his body, the meme of suicide warrior passed from the tribes native to the island of Nippon to the tribes of the Middle East, ironically facilitated by the anti-tribalism of their victims.
Suicide bombing is a fad. There is no deep explanation for it. There is no rhyme or reason to it. Its development as a tactic is completely serendipitous. There will be no pattern for Leavitt to uncover, besides the usual sexual frustrations that cause men to commit serial murder, or shoot up schools, or become religious extremists. School shootings is another example, but on a much smaller scale. There was a rash of shootings in school, generally not by the quarterback of the football team, during the late nineties. Just as it would be futile to attempt to discern who was a potential school shooter, it is futile to attempt to discern who is a suicide bomber.
The motivations for suicide bombing are probably very similar to the motivations of serial killers. Sexual frustration builds for years into a quasi-moralistic outrage that demands an outlet. Take this chilling quote from the blog of Shasta Groene's killer via TalkLeft:
To be more specific, I am scared, alone, and confused, and my reaction is to strike out toward the perceived source of my misery, society. My intent is to harm society as much as I can, then die.I am certain that a suicide bomber expresses the same sentiment for pretty much the same reasons. There's no econometric formula for serial killer, school shooter, or suicide bomber, but there may be one for ostracized loser. Suicide bombing is just one of the many forms that frustration can take (that just happens to be a popular fad in some cultures currently). However, usually that frustration becomes a powerful creative force by inspiring religious devotion, focusing a person with a sense of purpose, or stimulating artistic creativity.