Who Wants to Be a Martyr?
One given in the war against terrorism seems to be that suicide attackers are evil, deluded or homicidal misfits who thrive in poverty, ignorance and anarchy. President Bush, at last year’s United Nations conference on poor nations in Monterrey, Mexico, said that “we fight against poverty because hope is an answer to terror.” Senator John Warner, the Virginia Republican, argued that a new security doctrine including wars of preemption was necessary because “those who would commit suicide in their assaults on the free world are not rational.” A State Department report issued on the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks said that development aid should be based “on the belief that poverty provides a breeding ground for terrorism.” As logical as the poverty-breeds-terrorism argument may seem, study after study shows that suicide attackers and their supporters are rarely ignorant or impoverished. Nor are they crazed, cowardly, apathetic or asocial. If terrorist groups relied on such maladjusted people, “they couldn’t produce effective and reliable killers,” according to Todd Stewart, a retired Air Force general who directs the Ohio State University program in international and domestic security. Full Story