Thursday, July 21, 2005

New Scientist and Suicide Bombers

I'm not sure whether I should post this or not since it relates to a site that requires paid membership to read.

New Scientist has an opinion piece in the latest edition (23rd July) about the phsychology of a suicide bomber - basically how to convert ordinary people to 'the cause'.

It's fascinating, if disturbing, reading.

Basically (and trying very hard to avoid copyright issues) it argues that the suicide bomber does what they do because of peer pressure - that is, once they have made a pact within the group it is very difficult for any individual within the group to pull out even though they will die in the process.

The article contains reference to Dr. Ariel Merari and his ongoing work into the psychology of the suicide bomber. He appeared before the "Special Oversight Panel on Terrorism" in the US. A transcript of that appearance can be found here.

More disturbing reading I'm afraid, but relevant.



Watching Them, Watching Us said...

Don't forget the previous New Scientist article

Technology cannot stop suicide bombers

from 09 July 2005, which shows that , sadly, closely packed human beings, since they are virtually indistinguishable from containers of water, literally dampen the effect of a suicide bomb, and that higher casulaties from suicide bombers can occur where a crowd is not as densley packed as on a Tube train.

There are obviously other blast effects in such a situation with the pressure waves bouncing off the tunnel walls.

Scribe said...

I found and downloaded a large PDF about the psychology of terrorism, including a whole load of case studies. Unfortunately, I never got round to reading it properly, and the laptop I've got it on is currently out of order.

Hopefully I'll get the laptop back up and dig it out. Google probably knows, too ;)

Chameleon said...

On a related technological note: an excellent critique of the ID-card scheme has been published in issue 232 of PC Plus (Summer 2005), pp20-1 by Gary Marshall. Its title succinctly sums up the author's view: ID-iocy. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the article on their site (, but it might be put into the magazine archive later.