Suicide Terrorism, Islam and Hezbollah

Robert Anthony Pape is an expert on suicide terrorism and is the founder of the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism. On 7 February 2008 Pape joined Ron Paul’s presidential campaign as a foreign policy advisor.

Noam Chomsky mentioned his work in a talk titled “War on Terror

There is broad agreement among specialists that al-Qaeda-style terror “is today less a product of Islamic fundamentalism than of a simple strategic goal: to compel the United States and its Western allies to withdraw combat forces from the Arabian Peninsula and other Muslim countries” (Robert Pape, who has done the major research on suicide bombers).

Watch the full interview with Robert Pape.

What we still don’t understand about HizbollahThis week, world terrorism expert Robert Pape will share with the FBI the findings of his remarkable study of 462 suicide bombings. He concludes that such acts have little to do with religious extremism and that the West must engage politically to halt the relentless slaughter

Sunday August 6, 2006
The Observer

Israel has finally conceded that air power alone will not defeat Hizbollah. Over the coming weeks, it will learn that ground power won’t work either. The problem is not that the Israelis have insufficient military might, but that they misunderstand the nature of the enemy.

In terms of structure and hierarchy, it is less comparable with, say, a religious cult such as the Taliban than to the multi-dimensional American civil rights movement of the 1960s. What made its rise so rapid, and will make it impossible to defeat militarily, was not its international support but the fact that it evolved from a reorientation of pre-existing Lebanese social groups.

Evidence of the broad nature of Hizbollah’s resistance to Israeli occupation can be seen in the identity of its suicide attackers. Hizbollah conducted a broad campaign of suicide bombings against American, French and Israeli targets from 1982 to 1986. Altogether, these attacks, which included the infamous bombing of the marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, involved 41 suicide terrorists.

Researching my book, which covered all 462 suicide bombings around the globe, I had colleagues scour Lebanese sources to collect martyr videos, pictures and testimonials and biographies of the Hizbollah bombers. Of the 41, we identified the names, birth places and other personal data for 38. We were shocked to find that only eight were Islamic fundamentalists; 27 were from leftist political groups such as the Lebanese Communist Party and the Arab Socialist Union; three were Christians, including a female secondary school teacher with a college degree. All were born in Lebanon.

What these suicide attackers – and their heirs today – shared was not a religious or political ideology but simply a commitment to resisting a foreign occupation. Nearly two decades of Israeli military presence did not root out Hizbollah. The only thing that has proven to end suicide attacks, in Lebanon and elsewhere, is withdrawal by the occupying force.

Previous analyses of suicide terrorism have not had the benefit of a complete survey of all suicide terrorist attacks worldwide. The lack of complete data, together with the fact that many such attacks, including all those against Americans, have been committed by Muslims, has led many in the US to assume that Islamic fundamentalism must be the underlying main cause. This, in turn, has fuelled a belief that anti-American terrorism can be stopped only by wholesale transformation of Muslim societies, which helped create public support of the invasion of Iraq. But study of the phenomenon of suicide terrorism shows that the presumed connection to Islamic fundamentalism is misleading.

There is not the close connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism that many people think. Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist campaigns have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland.

Religion is rarely the root cause, although it is often used as a tool by terrorist organisations in recruiting and in other efforts in service of the broader strategic objective. Most often, it is a response to foreign occupation.

Understanding that suicide terrorism is not a product of Islamic fundamentalism has important implications for how the US and its allies should conduct the war on terrorism. Spreading democracy across the Persian Gulf is not likely to be a panacea as long as foreign troops remain on the Arabian peninsula. The obvious solution might well be simply to abandon the region altogether. Isolationism, however, is not possible; America needs a new strategy that pursues its vital interest in oil but does not stimulate the rise of a new generation of suicide terrorists. The same is true of Israel now.

The new Israeli land offensive may take ground and destroy weapons, but it has little chance of destroying Hizbollah. In fact, in the wake of the bombings of civilians, the incursion will probably aid Hizbollah’s recruiting.

Equally important, Israel’s incursion is also squandering the goodwill it had initially earned from so-called moderate Arab states such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. The countries are the court of opinion that matters because, while Israel cannot crush Hizbollah, it could achieve a more limited goal: ending Hizbollah’s acquisition of more missiles through Syria.

Given Syria’s total control of its border with Lebanon, stemming the flow of weapons is a job for diplomacy, not force. Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, Sunni-led nations that want stability in the region, are motivated to stop the rise of Hizbollah. Under the right conditions, the US might be able to help assemble an ad hoc coalition of Syria’s neighbours to entice and bully it to prevent Iranian, Chinese or other foreign missiles from entering Lebanon. It could also offer to begin talks over the future of the Golan Heights.

But Israel must take the initiative. Unless it calls off the offensive and accepts a genuine ceasefire, there are likely to be many, many dead Israelis in the coming weeks – and a much stronger Hizbollah.

· Robert Pape is professor of political studies at the University of Chicago. His book, Dying to Win: Why Suicide Terrorists Do It, will be published in the UK by Gibson Square this month, £18.99

Evidence of Israeli “Cowardly Blending” Comes to Light

War Crimes Airbrushed from History

By JONATHAN COOK

Counterpunch

January 4, 2008

 

It apparently never occurred to anyone in our leading human rights organisations or the Western media that the same moral and legal standards ought be applied to the behaviour of Israel and Hizbullah during the war on Lebanon 18 months ago. Belatedly, an important effort has been made to set that right.

Continue reading

Bias BBC: Iraq, why won’t they help us?

“Often, events told a different story: for example when that angry crowd set alight a soldier as he scrambled out of his armoured vehicle – the single best known image of the British in Basra – and not one of the city’s 20,000 police came to help.”

As I recall this was after two SAS soldiers dressed in Arab civilian clothing were stopped at a police check point.  They killed a policeman but failed to escape, were arrested and the car was found to be full of weapons and explosives.  Sounds to me like Black Ops, they were probably going to conduct a terrorist attack at a local religious festival that was on the same day, to heighten sectarian rivalries, the old British “divide and conquer.”

The British Army then attacked the police station to free them during which a civilian threw a petrol bomb on the tank.

All of this goes down Orwell’s memory hole and we are expected to wonder why “not one of the city’s 20,000 police came to help.”

Also a lesser point this sentence is misleading “set alight a soldier as he scrambled out of his armoured vehicle.”  Wasn’t the tank set on fire, the petrol and flames leaked inside and the soldier then scrambled out?  In this report it sounds like he was set on fire while scambling to safety.  Scrambling to safety after attack an Iraqi police station, violating the sovereignty of Iraq and its people.

Its revealing what a mess we have made in that country “for ordinary Basrawis conditions are simply dreadful. Forty-two women have been murdered over the past three months for wearing make-up, or failing to wear the hejab, the Islamic headscarf.”

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7145597.stm

Tariq Ali: Hezbollah and Canada

    Produced for Radio Tadamon! by Stefan Christoff.

tadamontariq.jpg

Terrorism is a contested terrain, a political landscape on which the highest levels of international military power engage in a deadly war. In 2007 terrorism remains an ominous threat, a political ghost invoked in the foreign policy rhetoric of Canada’s Conservative government surrounding the ‘War on Terror’.

In 2002 Canada unveiled an official list of ‘terrorist’ organizations, strikingly similar to the US governmental list of an equivalent nature. Today the Lebanese political movement Hezbollah, both the military and political wings, is officially considered a ‘terrorist’ organization by the government of Canada, a policy only endorsed by two additional countries internationally, the US and Israel.

In the Middle East, from Lebanon, to Palestine, Hezbollah is commonly viewed as a national liberation movement, which in 2006 successfully halted Israel’s major military assault, to the shock of the world. As a political and social force in Lebanon, Hezbollah remains a major player at the highest levels of government and in the most impoverished sectors of society.

In Canada a public debate on the listing of Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist’ organization was ignited in 2006 as Israeli military forces attacked Lebanon killing over 1100 civilians. Debate on Hezbollah’s categorization as a ‘terrorist’ organization draws attention to Canada’s post 9/11 ‘national security’ laws and regulations which included the formalization of a Canadian list of ‘terrorist’ organizations in 2002.

In the context of the debate on Canada’s categorization of Hezbollah as ‘terrorist’ I had an opportunity to interview novelist, historian, political campaigner Tariq Ali on Hezbollah. This interview was conducted in Montreal, touching on the history of Hezbollah as a political force in Lebanon & the Middle East, while also addressing Canada’s designation of the movement as ‘terrorist’ in the post 9/11 political environment.

* Radio Tadamon! is produced by the Tadamon! collective, a group of social justice activists working to build ties of solidarity between movements for social / economic justice in the Middle East / Montreal, while organizing within the Diaspora community of Montreal.

* Tadamon! Montreal is current organizing a political campaign to challenge Canada’s listing of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

Iran MPs condemn US ‘terrorists’

Iranian Revolutionary Guard (file)

The guards force was established after the Islamic revolution in 1979

Iranian MPs have voted to classify the US armed forces and the CIA as terrorist groups. A statement signed by 215 Iranian MPs cited the bombing of Japan during World War II, and the invasions of Vietnam and Iraq, as “terrorist actions”.

The largely symbolic move comes days after the US Senate urged the White House to brand Iran’s Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.

The foreign ministry in Tehran said it backed the MPs’ motion.

Correspondents say the ministry’s support is significant because government bodies are generally not as hardline as the parliament.

REVOLUTIONARY GUARDS

Officially the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)

Formed after 1979 revolution

Loyal to clerics and counter to regular military

Estimated 125,000 troops

Includes army, navy, air force, intelligence and special forces

Iran President Ahmadinejad is a former member

Source: Globalsecurity.org

US turns heat up on Iran

Timeline: US-Iran relations

While the Iranian motion is seen as largely symbolic, the labelling of a group as a terrorist organisation by the US could have financial implications for the guards.

Any assets within US jurisdiction would be frozen and the US Treasury Department could move against firms subject to US law that do business with the guards.

The Revolutionary Guards force was established after the Islamic revolution toppled the Shah and brought hard-line clerics to power in Iran in 1979.

It is estimated to have 125,000 active members and operates separately from Iran’s main armed forces.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7020603.stm