Islamic suicide bombers: Perspective

By K.N. Pandit

A new dimension of contemporary Islamic terror surfaced in its full force with 9/11 event.  In Palestine, suicide bombers have been in action for a long time but observers did not bring them under special focus.  For a long time, it seemed unbelievable that somebody would blow himself up for blowing up a large number of innocent people while standing amidst them.

Indians met with the first shock of a suicide bomber in operation when Rajiv Gandhi was blown up by a woman who had tied a bomb to her body. LTTE frequently used suicide bombing as a war weapon against Sri Lankan security forces.

With terror unleashed by Islamic Theo-fascists, suicide bombing has become a regular feature of destroying innocent lives in various parts of the world especially in such regions as are alleged to be in a state of conflict and crisis (daru’l harb).  Other purpose of the perpetrators of terror is to destabilize governments and paralyze civil institutions as the process of replacing all existing faiths and their institutions by Islamic faith and sharia.

Suicide bombers have been active in some of the eastern states of India where insurgency has taken roots for quite some time.  During the Khalistan movement in Punjab, there were many cases of suicide bombing which caused considerable loss of life and property and created nightmare for the security forces.

But it is Kashmir where suicide bombers have a wide network. History of suicide bombing in Kashmir during past two decades of insurgency has shown that the pattern of these acts of subversion is almost identical. This suggests that the suicide bombers receive training from the same source.

In Kashmir Theo-fascists embarking on suicide bombing generally targeted the camps of the security forces and police establishments. Their methods vary according to the nature of the target. For example while targeting a camp of security forces or police establishment, the suicide bombers drive a car or a  jeep loaded with RDX and the suicide  bomber ties  bombs to  his body and then gate crashes into the target. This blows up the gate or the protection wall and the personnel manning the post are also blown up.

These tactics change in the case of blowing up an individual or a couple of individuals. The killer ties a bomb to his body and when he is juxtaposed to the target, presses the button and the bomb blows up killing him and the target(s).

Obviously a suicide bomber is fully brainwashed for quite some time till he is mentally prepared to kill and get killed.  His brainwashing is done by sensitizing him to Islamic religious teachings of making all kinds of sacrifices to spread and propagate Islam —- brute force and violence being its important instruments. In the first phase of brainwashing, the object is made to believe through incessant propaganda sprees that Islam, the last of the faiths sent down on earth by Allah through his Prophet, has to prevail and that all Muslims are enjoined to make any sacrifice in that direction. It is called divine ordination, and has to be obeyed come what may.

In order to sharpen his religious zeal, he is told that Islam is in danger at such and such a place or region and the Muslims have to be liberated. The philosophy of martyrdom in Islam is of great significance and martyrdom (shahadat) means laying down life not for the country or the nation or the motherland but for Islam. Ali and his son Husayn laid down life for the faith and hence they are the foremost of martyrs in Islamic history.

Martyrdom (shahadat) as an adjunct of faith is actually the contribution of the Shia’ sect and gradually extended to the Sunni sect as well. The first ever attempt of inducting it into politics was made by the Assassins of Iran around the time of the rise of Chingiz Khan in Central Asia in 13th century. The name of Hasan bin Sabbah is linked to the episode of Grand Master of Alamut, a mountain stronghold in western Iran. Hasan bin Sabbah is reported to have raised a strong band of his followers indoctrinated with the philosophy of suicidal attacks on their political adversaries or the adversaries of Ismaili faith.

In the stronghold of Alamut Mountain, Hasan bin Sabbah had laid beautiful parks with streams of pure water flowing through and some luxurious complexes where beautiful damsels were housed. When a follower of his faith called dai’ finished his training in terrorism and indoctrination, he would be brought to the gate of the Alamut fort, administered a drug called hashish in Farsi (Assassin is drawn from hashish) and after getting intoxicated, he would be bodily lifted and put in a beautiful room within the fort where, on regaining his senses, he would find beautiful damsels entertaining him. Thus he would believe that Sabbah was the intermediary to take him to paradise with promised fresh cool water and honey and damsels.

Once out of the fort, he reinforced his allegiance to Hasan bin Sabbah and became a devout dai, the present-day fidayeen, The fidayeen of Hasan bin Sabbah compassed many murders of opponents of Ismaili faith including the Prime Minister Nidhamu’l Mulk Tusi who was warned the previous night by striking a dagger in the ground outside his tent to which a letter was attached saying he would be killed. It was only Chingiz Khan, the great Mongol warrior who attacked and destroyed the Alamut fortress and dispersed the fidayeen. However the idea of martyrdom in the path of faith stuck and has now re-emerged in its new avatar.

In the backdrop of this scenario, the suicide bombers have to be understood in historical perspective. Then it was Hasan bin Sabbah and his small group of fidayeen but now it is entire Muslim ummah in all the five continents of the globe that is fascinated about martyrdom in the path of religion of Muhammad.

(The writer is the former Director of the Centre of Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University).

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