UNDERSTANDING SEPTEMBER 11TH:
WHO IS THE "ISLAMIC" SUICIDE BOMBER?
By Louis Rene Beres
All Islamic terrorists associated with the September 11th attacks on the United States repeatedly affirm their love of death. Such perverse affirmation is not historically unique, not even in the recently-ended century of atrocity, the bloodsoaked Twentieth Century. In 1936, for example, on the occasion of a speech by the nationalist general Millan Astray at the University of Salamanca in Spain, the hall thundered with the general's favorite motto: VIVA LA MUERTE! "Long live death." When the speech was over, Miguel de Unamuno, rector of the University, rose and said: "Just now I heard a necrophilious and senseless cry...this outlandish paradox is repellent to me." Yet, this very same repellent cry is, today, the lurid reason for being of Islamic "suicide" terrorists.
But why put the word "suicide" in quotation marks? The answer is simple for all who care to look. Islamic "lovers of death" do not commit suicide in any meaningful sense. As they believe that acts of "martyrdom"
always assure blissful immortality, the very opposite of personal death, their "suicide" makes mockery of their pretended affection. Indeed, as they commit "suicide" only to assure eternal life, their pretended heroism is really never anything more than a supreme act of cowardice.
For some yet partially unexplained reasons, the Islamic "suicide" terrorist fears death more acutely than all others. At the same time, he fears continuation of his ongoing life on earth, a life almost always devoid of any opportunity to do something rewarding and a life that almost always prohibits, inhibits and disdains the most compelling needs of his inborn human sexuality. Thwarting both meaning and eros, repressive elements of Islamic society now prod thousands of young males to "martyr" themselves in the killing of "infidels." September 11th had absolutely nothing to do with politics as usual, with alleged Islamic anger about certain elements of American foreign policy (the simplistic explanation of many academics and journalists who now routinely elevate intellectual mediocrity to high art), but rather with the delicious promise of salvation through "sacred" acts of killing.
"Suicide" killing of American men, women and children in New York stemmed from the very same sentiments that continue to animate "suicide" killings of Israeli men, women and children. Consider the statement by Jamal Abdel Hamid Yussef, explaining operations of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades (military wing of Hamas in Gaza): "Our suicide operations are a message...that our people love death. Our goal is to die for the sake of God, and if we live we want to humiliate Jews and trample on their necks." Hamas, which was loudly overjoyed at the murders of September 11th - because Americans are presumably just as evil as Jews - promises all Islamic "suicides" nothing less than freedom from death. By "dying" in the divinely- mandated act of killing "Jews" or "Americans" (it makes no difference that these are not mutually exclusive categories; Islamic terrorists are not interested in logic), the "suicide" terrorist conquers death, which he fears with unimaginable terror. In his eternal life, Hamas and Fatah and Al-Qa'ida videotapes reveal, there will be rivers of honey and 72 virgins as reward for being "martyred" in the glorious fight against the despised enemies of God.
We see, then, that the Islamic "suicide" terrorist sees absolutely nothing suicidal about his wilful murder of "Jews" or "Americans." For him, a hideous coward immobilized by both fear of death and by fear of his unhappy and unsatisfying life - "suicide" is merely a momentary inconvenience on his fiery propulsion into heaven. Now the insufferable death fear of his ego is lessened by his SACRIFICE of the infidel "American." After September 11th, it is especially through the burning and maiming and murder of defenseless American men, women and children - actions that are sometimes called "military operations" in much of the Islamic press - that he buys himself free from personal death. The Islamic "suicide" terrorist knows, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that after executing his "suicidal" sacrifice of infidels, literally millions of other Muslim sympathizers will proudly raise their heads over images of the American corpses, smile broadly into the sun, and reaffirm God's greatness to all the world.
What shall we do about this apparent paradox, a "suicide" that does not intend to end the murderer's own life, but to extend it forever? For America today, there is little point to deterring the determined murderers with threats of death - threats which would be received not only without apprehension, but - expectedly - with a delirious joy and collective ecstasy. No, to deter the Islamic "suicide" terrorists, America must now offer the prospective murderers a palpable threat of REAL suicide. The "suicide" terrorist who threatens America today must be made to understand that his unheroic explosion of American bodies will bring not a prompt entry into paradise, but instead an irreversible slide into eternal darkness, into fire, into DEATH.
Violence and the sacred are inseparable for the Islamic "suicide" terrorist, but America must immediately think in terms of "desacrilizing" his grotesque undertakings. It must be our task, now, to convince the would-be shatterer of innocents that God's promise will never follow his explosive logic and that his despicable murders will lead him not to paradise, but to the grave. Exactly how to accomplish this very difficult task must be the central intellectual preoccupation of all Americans who would wish to survive the Islamic "suicide" terrorist.
LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is Professor of International Law Department of Political Science at Purdue University and publishes widely on terrorism and counterterrorism. He is the author of many books on this subject, and a frequent lecturer in the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Professor Beres has been a consultant to several agencies of American government on prevention of chemical, biological and nuclear terrorism. His articles on this subject have appeared in SPECIAL WARFARE and other publications of the Department of Defense. Prof. Beres recently became the academic advisor for the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.