The New York Times reports: A group of Sunni militants attending a suicide bombing training class at a camp north of Baghdad were killed on Monday when their commander unwittingly conducted a demonstration with a belt that was packed with explosives, army and police officials said.
The militants belonged to a group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, which is fighting the Shiite-dominated army of the Iraqi government, mostly in Anbar Province. But they are also linked to bomb attacks elsewhere and other fighting that has thrown Iraq deeper into sectarian violence.
Twenty-two ISIS members were killed, and 15 were wounded, in the explosion at the camp, which is in a farming area in the northeastern province of Samara, according to the police and army officials. Stores of other explosive devices and heavy weapons were also kept there, the officials said. [Continue reading...]
Robert Pape writes:
On Oct. 23, 1983, a suicide bomber drove a truck laden with explosives into the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 Marines as they slept. This dark chapter of American history was one of the country’s first experiences with suicide attack since the Japanese kamikaze pilots during World War II. The attack, combined with the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut that April and a sustained terrorism campaign waged by the group that came to be known as Hezbollah, was a major reason President Reagan ordered American forces to leave Lebanon in 1984.
The barracks bombing is perhaps the most well known attack in Lebanon during that period, but it was far from an isolated incident. Hezbollah’s campaign of suicide terrorism, mainly against American, French and Israeli military forces along with Western political targets, killed about 900 people. And the attacks would serve as a major inspiration for future terrorist groups that adopted similar tactics, most notably Hamas, Al Qaeda and the Tamil Tigers.
At the time, the prevailing narrative was that these attacks in Lebanon were the result of Shiite Muslim fundamentalism. It has become a common refrain over the last several decades that religion, and Islam in particular, is the primary cause of suicide bombings. This is an easy, convenient and clear argument that fits with the United States’ approach to the war on terror over the last decade.
There is just one problem with this argument: It’s wrong.
Iranian officials claimed Monday that they had evidence of American and British involvement in the country’s worst suicide bombing attacks in years, raising tensions as Iran meets with Western nations for another round of delicate talks on its nuclear program.
At least five commanders of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps were killed and dozens of other people were left dead and wounded on Sunday in two bombings in the restive southeast along Iran’s frontier with Pakistan, according to Iranian state news agencies.
The coordinated strike, one of the largest against the Guards in the region, appeared to mark an escalation in hostilities between Iran’s leadership and the Baluchi ethnic minority. Iranian officials accused foreign enemies of supporting the insurgents, singling out the intelligence agencies of United States, Britain and Pakistan. [continued...]
Iran’s president has accused Pakistani agents of involvement in a suicide bombing in south-east of the country targeting a group of the elite Revolutionary Guards force.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called on Pakistan to arrest the attackers, who he said had entered Iran from Pakistan. [continued...]
Sunni insurgency in Sistan-Baluchistan has presented Tehran with one of its most vexing domestic security problems. The region, which is located in Iran’s southeast corner, borders Afghanistan and Pakistan and is one of the largest and poorest of Iran’s 30 provinces.
Sistan-Baluchistan is home to a large concentration of Sunni Muslims. Ethnic Baluchi tribes are prevalent in the region, which straddles all three countries. The province’s border areas are considered key smuggling routes for products including opium.
Increasingly, Tehran has grown worried about the influence of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan on criminal and militant groups operating on the Iranian side of the border. [continued...]
The actor Will Smith is no one’s image of a suicide bomber. With his boyish face, he has often played comic roles. Even as the last man on earth in I Am Legend, he retains a wise-cracking, ironic demeanor. And yet, surrounded by a horde of hyperactive vampires at the end of that film, Smith clasps a live grenade to his chest and throws himself at the enemy in a final burst of heroic sacrifice.
Wait a second: surely that wasn’t a suicide bombing. Will Smith wasn’t reciting suras from the Koran. He wasn’t sporting one of those rising sun headbands that the Japanese kamikaze wore for their suicide missions. He wasn’t playing a religious fanatic or a political extremist. Will Smith was the hero of the film. So how could he be a suicide bomber? After all, he’s one of us, isn’t he?
As it happens, we have our suicide bombers too. “We” are the powerful, developed countries, the ones with an overriding concern for individual liberties and individual lives. “We” form a moral archipelago that encompasses the United States, Europe, Israel, present-day Japan, and occasionally Russia. Whether in real war stories or inspiring vignettes served up in fiction and movies, our lore is full of heroes who sacrifice themselves for motherland, democracy, or simply their band of brothers. Admittedly, these men weren’t expecting 72 virgins in paradise and they didn’t make film records of their last moments, but our suicidal heroes generally have received just as much praise and recognition as “their” martyrs. [continued...]
The war in Iraq has enabled insurgent groups to develop the relatively modern innovation of suicide bombs into a strategic weapon.
Suicide operations, the signature weapon of the Iraqi insurgency, have evolved into a tactical method of warfare used by insurgents around the world. These “moving and thinking bombs” are more effective, numerous, adaptable and sophisticated — able to carry out both mass killings and targeted political assassinations — and are harder to counter since women and children are being used to carry them.
A study by the Gulf Research Center, a Middle East think tank, analyzes these operations from a technical perspective. The report, “Security and Terrorism: Suicide Bombing Operations,” published in Arabic and English, focuses on suicide operations in Iraq, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Israel.
Although the study does not provide evidence of direct relations between insurgent groups operating in different countries, their similar tactics strongly suggest that they are learning from each other. The Iraq war has served as a suicide operations school for insurgent groups around the world, Dr. Mustafa Alani, director of Security and Terrorism Studies at the Gulf Research Center, told the Dubai-based Al Arabiya television network. [complete article]