Interesting analysis by a University of Chicago political scientist. Here’s an excerpt from comments at commondreams.org:
In his recent book, ”DYING TO WIN: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism,” University of Chicago political scientist Robert Pape has provided an indispensable public service by collecting data from all 315 suicide terrorist campaigns from 1980 to 2003, involving 462 individuals. His overall finding: The major objective of 95 percent of suicide attacks is to expel foreign military forces from territory that the terrorists perceive as their homeland. There is little connection with Islamic fundamentalism or any of the world religions. The taproot of suicide terrorism is nationalism and it’s ”mainly a response to foreign occupation.” The objective is political self-determination. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, a secular, clearly anti-religious movement, have committed 76 of the 315 suicide attacks, the most of any group. Their specific goal was an independent homeland in Sri Lanka. Pape, who has also taught at the U.S. Air Force’s Advanced Airpower Studies, convincingly demonstrates that ”suicide terrorist groups are neither primarily criminal groups dedicated to enriching their top leaders, nor religious cults isolated from the rest of their society. Rather, suicide terrorist organizations often command broad social support within the national communities from which they recruit, because they are seen as pursuing legitimate nationalist goals.” Absent these goals, suicide terrorism rarely occurs.
Only 6 percent of the perpetrators have come from the five countries with the world’s largest Islamic fundamentalist populations….
But of course, it’s much more easy to simply repeat slogans.