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The Decision To Become A Suicide Bomber

901 words - 4 pages

Although journalist Dexter Filkins has spent years covering the war in Iraq, he still appears unsure as to what exactly motivates a suicide bomber to embrace jihad. Citing a specific example in his book, The Forever War, Filkins poses the question, “The most intriguing part of Ra’ad’s story was unknowable. How did an English-speaking, American-loving, hair-gel-wearing lawyer who’d walked among the bikinis of Santa Monica come to blow himself up in Iraq?” (177). While this particular quandary may appear unknowable to Filkins, the motivation behind suicide bombers’ actions may be more obvious than he thinks. It is no secret that American culture differs immensely from that of the Islamic way of life, as both groups have great difficulty understanding the motivation behind the other’s traditions. These differences may not be the primary problem however, as John Farmer suggests in his book, The Ground Truth, that American foreign policy seems to be the driving factor behind Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s decision to organize the attack on 9/11. Perhaps the two cultures really aren’t as different as they seem. Conceivably, Filkins’ initial inquiry may be irrelevant to Ra’ad’s ultimate decision to become a suicide bomber.
One common misconception held by Americans is that those who practice Islam hate everything about the Western world. The two cultures certainly appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, especially in terms of the role women fill in society. In fact, it doesn’t get much different than bikinis and burqas. To an Islamic man, the obsession over appearance and pleasure in America must be appalling. Nobody has expressed this belief better than Sayyid Qutb, who wrote in his manifesto, “Humanity today is living in a large brothel! One has only to glance at its press, films, fashion shows, beauty contests, ballrooms, wine bars, and broadcasting stations!” (Coll 113). Could it be this bitterness towards American culture that motivates a suicide bomber to fulfill his jihadist destiny? Although Qutb certainly was open about his dislike of America, it seems far more likely that modern jihadists have an ulterior motive that involves America’s foreign policy rather than its culture.
An interesting revelation is made concerning jihadist motivation by John Farmer in his book, The Ground Truth. Farmer notes that Osama bin Laden’s initial concerns were focused in the Middle East. The continual involvement by the United States in Middle Eastern affairs is what seems to have put him over the edge. Farmer quotes a specific interview given by bin Laden that clearly outlines the source of his hatred, “America continues to claim that it is upholding the banner of freedom and humanity… while these deeds that they did [the dropping of the...

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