Suicide Terrorism

Authored by: Susanne Martin

The Routledge History of Terrorism

Print publication date:  April  2015
Online publication date:  March  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415535779
eBook ISBN: 9781315719061
Adobe ISBN: 9781317514879


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If airline hijackings were the “emblematic” deed of terrorists of the 1970s and 1980s, suicide attacks would seem to be the equivalent today. 1 Like skyjackings, suicide attacks are dramatic events that are disturbing for their unpredictable nature and high death tolls. Suicide attacks perpetuate fear and insecurity, emotions the groups employing these tactics use for political effect. For terrorist groups, adopting suicide tactics is a sign of adaptation or innovation, a response to changing circumstances, such as improvements in airport security and permissive ideologies. 2 Using suicide attacks also allows actors to signal the highest devotion to a cause and the likely limits of counter-strategies aimed at deterring those who are already willing to die. 3

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