Root Causes of Suicide Terrorism: The Globalization of Martyrdom, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Root Causes of Suicide Terrorism

The Globalization of Martyrdom, 1st Edition

Edited by Ami Pedahzur


224 pages | 15 B/W Illus.

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This highly topical new study clearly shows how there are at least two reasons to question the central role that is assigned to religion, in particular Islam, when explaining suicide terrorism.

  • suicide terrorism is a modern phenomenon, yet Islam is a very old religion. Except for two periods in the twelfth and eighteenth centuries, suicide was never part of Islamist beliefs and behaviours. Actually, Islam clearly forbids suicide, hence, the argument that Islamic religious beliefs are the main cause of suicide terrorism is inherently dubious
  • many suicide attacks have been carried out by secular organizations with little connection to fundamentalist Islam: Palestinian Fatah; the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine; and the Kurdish Workers Party. Moreover, one of the organizations that has employed this strategy devastatingly and regularly is the LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam). Not only are members of this organization not Muslim, most of them are not religious at all.

This superb new book contains essays by some of the world's leading scholars of terrorism and political violence. It is essential reading for students of terrorism, political science and Middle Eastern politics, and useful to students of social psychology, theology and history.


"The most up to date, informative and reliable survey of this phenomenon." - Walter Laqueur

"This is a useful and important book on a topic that is as intellectually compelling as it is politically disturbing." - Mark Juergensmeyer

Table of Contents

1. Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror 2. Root Causes of Suicide Martyrdom Warfare and its Effectiveness 3. The Roots of Suicide Terrorism: A Multi-Causal Approach 4. Religious and Secular Forms of Suicide Terrorism 5. Islam and Al Qaeda 6. Al Qaeda and the Global Suicide Terrorism Epidemic 7. The Banality of the Sacred: Community Structure and Bombing Variance in Low- and High-Generating Palestinian and Iraqi Villages 8. Dying to be Martyrs: The Culture of Palestinian Suicide Bombers 9. The Challenge of Countering Suicide Terrorism

About the Editor

Ami Pedahzur is an associate professor at the department of government, University of Texas, Austin. His latest publications include: Political Parties and Terrorist Groups (with Leonard Weinberg, 2003) and The Israeli Response to Jewish Extremism and Violence – Defending Democracy (2002).

About the Series

Political Violence

This book series contains sober, thoughtful and authoritative academic accounts of terrorism and political violence. Its aim is to produce a useful taxonomy of terror and violence through comparative and historical analysis in both national and international spheres. Each book discusses origins, organisational dynamics and outcomes of particular forms and expressions of political violence.

Founding Editor: David Rapoport

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Military / Strategy
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Freedom & Security / Terrorism