The four young Britons who blew themselves up on 7/7, killing 52 of their more normal life-loving neighbors, were not needed as guidance systems for the bombs. There were no hijacked planes to pilot, nor any truck bomb to steer.
Neither were they needed as a disguise for the bombs. The subways are hardly secure areas behind checkpoints. Anyone may enter or leave; and the bombs were in bags, not worn as vests. Had the terrorists left the bombs under the seats and exited, they would have killed just as many unarmed commuters as they did by setting them off in their hands. Madrid proved that.
As best I can tell, there was no tactical necessity for the London bombers to die.
No, the four men that died voluntarily in the blasts did so simply because they aspired to be egg timers. It was, apparently, the only role in the attack that they could imagine for themselves in which they got to die. And a glorious death was the goal around which everything else was planned.
It can be argued that the bomber’s willing self-immolation was intended as a psychological weapon: an attempt to instill fear and dread among the infidels by a demonstration of selfless, mindless faith. But this has been overdone a bit lately to still be truly effective. We get it already. The little nuts all want to die and get to the big Virgin Ranch in the sky. The act now lacks much as a terror tool and instead serves to convince Westerners that the bombers are imbeciles –incapable of calculating either their own bodily self-interest or the correct path to heaven.
While the suicide-bomber culture undoubtedly overestimates the psychological effect of their actions (just as we overestimate the “shock and awe” of ours), surely they must understand that the novelty of the whole thing wore off quite a while ago. So if the suicide part of the London attack was neither tactically necessary nor psychologically effective, why die? Why not just walk away from the bombs and live to plant more?
Because such a death is glory, and fame, and honor –beyond anything the bombers could obtain through their small lives. And addressing this fact –why suicide bombing is so appealing to the suicide bombers– holds the key to reducing the problem.
The actions of suicide bombers are not condemned by much of the Muslim world. In fact, they enjoy a fawning adoration in many segments of the population. One failed Palestinian suicide bomber, a 15-year old boy caught by Israelis at a checkpoint, explained the appeal of being a suicide bomber this way: “I would become a martyr and go to my God. It’s better than being a singer or a footballer. It’s better than everything.”
This is a received attitude –part of a popular culture of “martyr” worship with many manifestations. The walls and storefronts of Palestine are littered with tribute posters memorializing murder-martyrs, many of them suicide bombers of civilian targets. The Arab language Internet and media are strewn with the curious pre-game interviews of human bombs taken shortly before they leave for their missions. Palestinians have named schools and children’s soccer teams for suicide bombers. Islamic Jihad has even held role-playing summer camps for adolescent boys at which they are taught the many benefits of murder-suicide as a potential career. And the families of bombers are often the recipients of direct cash “charity” from admirers, as well as respect and veneration –more valuable than cash.
Many of these examples are specific to Palestinian bombers, but they serve to show the hagiographic esteem paid to suicide bombers by large numbers of Muslims worldwide. More important than any of specific manifestation of murder-martyr worship, is the chance it offers the bomber to matter –the fame bestowed upon bombers is very attractive. It allows the bomber to enjoy the grim notoriety and strange fascination normally afforded to the serial killer, while simultaneously having a cheering section of millions applaud his work as moral. As a suicide bomber, you can –quite literally– go out in a blaze of glory and join a pantheon of allegedly immortal heroes, while bringing honor to your family and fame to your memory.
This must be changed.
We must insure that the legacy of suicide bombers is as negative as possible –as a means of disrupting the curious social compact that nourishes the supply of willing bomb parts. And we must have an honest assessment of what is truly within our power in order to accomplish this. We cannot simply say that these men should not be heroes; we must take practical action aimed at the glory, honor and fame providers. Suicide killers must be made to bring pain and suffering to their would-be fans. They must leave a legacy of suffering among their friends and family.
There are a number of means to this end that are fairly palatable to the ethos of the West. These include:
1) Shame. While it is difficult for those outside a culture to shame those within it, it can be done. It is often after battles that soldiers are most disturbed by their actions –since that is when they can see the faces on the enemies they have killed. Each casualty is then a person, and the normal human reaction to such things is deep aversion. The Western media must do a better job of showing the world the faces of the victims of suicide killers. The appetite for pictures of the “victims” of Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo is seemingly insatiable, with journalists (and other leftists) endlessly suing the Pentagon to release new pictures of long-documented events –and pasting every new picture on the front page. Yet the victims of terrorism are treated like a sports report: Bombing in Ankara tonight -21 dead, 14 injured, 3 in critical condition. Leading scorer for the Jihadistan Blue Devils this attack: Mohammed abu Sharia, with 8 civilians, 1 soldier.
There are over 50 people dead in London from the 7/7 attacks and I know the names of only five: the four bombers and the unlucky cold-natured Brazilian shot dead by English police for wearing an unseasonably heavy coat into the subway and failing to halt when so ordered.
Who are the victims? The fans of the suicide bombers –some of whom live in Britain, Germany, France and America—need to see their faces, their children, their mangled misshapen corpses, their crying, angry mothers and fathers. Pictures of the concentration camps repel even anti-Semites. Pictures of Hiroshima horrified even Americans who believed (correctly) that the attack was justified. And pictures of the victims of terrorist murder will make watching the scores on the evening news much less fun for the fans of terror. We must better shame our adversaries at home and abroad.
2) Momma can be made a martyr too, you know. Suicide bombers have families. Mohammed Atta, leader of the 9/11 massacre, for example, has a father who lives a comfortable life as a retired lawyer in Cairo, surrounded by pictures of his evil son –of whom he is very proud. He spoke to a reporter recently, praising the London attack and wishing for many more like it. Apparently, the date didn’t fall far from the palm tree at the Atta home. Why isn’t Mr. Atta’s father dead or in prison? Inciting terrorism, as he clearly did in the interview –even offering to donate money for a new attack, is a crime, after all.
Many young men are willing to die. But how many want something bad to happen to Mom and Dad and cute little brother Mo? If the relative, friend, pet or junior prom date of a suicide bomber jaywalks six years after the bombing, the FBI should be there with handcuffs and a helicopter. This is legal. This is moral. This would deter bombings. We should extradite Mohammed Atta’s father from Egypt. We should deport relatives of domestic bombers to the Islamic paradises from which they have fled. We should place bombers’ relatives on the no-fly, no-visit, and no-go-to-college-in-America lists out to third cousins. And if a bombers’ Granny has an overdue library book, she should go to Gitmo. Mass-murder-by-suicide should single your loved-ones out for extra attention.
3) Public Auction: Mosque for sale. Likewise, producing a single murder-martyr should single out a Mosque and its Imam for extra attention. Experts have found that Islamist terror often has some vague connection to Islam. When this connection leads to a particular Mosque, we need to ask questions, such as… “What is preached in the sermons here?” “Did you know religious incitement to murder is a violation of the mosque’s tax-exempt status?” “Is that lead paint on the walls?” and “Did you know we never did convict Al Capone for murder? By the way, where are your old personal tax returns?”
4) Is that goat hair on your nightstand? Fame normally carries a downside: fame. If Brad Pitt has toilet trouble, the tabloids are there with a camera on a roto-rooter to find out what he had for dinner the night before. The lack of privacy that comes with fame is enough to discourage many people from public life. Everyone has done something of which they are ashamed or which they fear being made public. Suicide bombers are no different, and it is time the media introduced terrorists to the downside of martyrdom and its 15 minutes of sick fame.
The reporter for an English tabloid that manages to land a graphic interview with the gay lover of one of the London train bombers will do more for the War on Terror than most armies. We must document their failure, their fears, their weaknesses, and their Viagra prescriptions. (Hint to media: just pretend they are Republicans and go at ‘em!)
It’s hard to be famous when all your would-be fans wish you had never even been born. We should see to it that the cultural support networks for the brave martyrs that blow up Zionist-Crusader secretaries on morning trains is somewhat reduced in its enthusiasm.
We have a lot more power than we use. Smart bombs can be very effective, but carpet-bombing has its place too.