OxBlog

Thursday, June 01, 2006

# Posted 4:00 PM by Patrick Porter  

MURDEROUS VANITY?: Brendan O'Neill argues that the British suicide bombers who attacked London on 7 July 2005 were not driven primarily by global events.

O'Neill searches the Report of the Official Account of the 7/7 Bombings. He concludes that the main engine behind their violence was the longing for martyrdom, a macabre twist of celebrity culture:
There is little in the narrative - the most thorough account yet of what happened in the run-up to and on 7/7 - to suggest that the four young men had heated debates about foreign policy or were involved in political discussion groups. Mostly they seem to have been motivated by a burning desire to become martyrs (11), which is effectively the radical Islamist equivalent of becoming an overnight celebrity.
There is an important general point here - that terrorist acts can result from an ideology that is self-directed, and are not always reactive or a response to the behaviour of their target. The personal desire for salvation or even stardom can overshadow externalities.

On the other hand, I'm not sure in this case that I fully agree. If forced to guess, I'd say that the bombers who wanted martyrdom probably did prioritise London not only because its accessible but because it is deemed the capital of a Crusader Zionist nation assaulting holy land. Of course, I can't prove it, but its hard to see it as just a coincidence.

But if not London in 2005, it might be France in 2008 over other grievances like the Hijab, or other secular states or liberal societies.

The point is, this may be a confrontation we must have anyway at some point, Iraq war or no Iraq war. There were plenty of attacks on western (and non-western) targets before 9/11, let alone Afghanistan, let alone Iraq.

One last thought: there is often an urge to mystify or express wonder at the willingness of some people to die and kill for their own salvation.

In consumer cultures in which the pursuit of self-gratification and physical health dominate, we may have lost sight of the sheer power, even the frequency, of this - dangerous- idea.
(2) opinions -- Add your opinion

Comments:
This is why the absolute failure of the 9/11 attacks - and the London attacks - has not deterred would-be martyrs. The only result has been military action and tightened security. Even the Madrid bombings, which supposedly were going to lead to the return of Al-Andalus to Islam, don't appear to have accomplished anything. But results aren't important. To a death cult, which is what Islam is, only death matters.
 
To paraphrase Mark Steyn, death and killing is not just the method, it is the goal. Or at least an important part of the goal.

On the other hand, they probably do hope that their martyrdom will inspire and radicalise their co-religionists, or strike awe into their enemies, or something like that.

Interestingly, the Tamil Tigers are supposed to be one of groups that resorts to suicide bombing the most intensively, and their goals unlike the jihadists are more localised and specific, confined to one conflict.
So I'm not sure how much their mentality differs.
 
Post a Comment


Home