This is in my view the best book explaining Palestinian suicide terrorism. It deals with the demographics of Palestinian suicide bombers, their background, religiosity, political awareness, organizational attachments and motivations. It also deals with the social and political environment that contributes to their willingness to engage in a suicide operation, including the role and motivations of those who prepared them and sent them to carry out their deadly mission. The depth of this study provides students of suicide terrorism around the world with a template helping to determine whether particular attacks represented genuine suicide bombings or only appeared to be so.
Under “Public atmosphere”, when examining the importance of public support for suicide bombings, the author writes: “In almost all cases where a massive campaign of suicide attacks has taken place, the community which generated these attacks (or a sizable segment of it) felt that its existential interests were at stake.” But “as long as the issue at stake does not directly affect their lives, [people] do not wish to risk their lives for the cause they advocate. This latter situation characterizes the [overwhelmingly negative] attitude to suicide attacks held by members of Muslim communities that are not directly involved in an acute conflict.” The author posits that “an abstract ideological support of suicide attacks can move a few to actually volunteer for such attacks, but in the absence of other factors it is insufficient for motivating a large number of youngsters to give their lives for what they consider a just cause.” Studies cited by the author show that public support for suicide attacks is, in itself, insufficient for generating actual suicides. Further conditions must be met, writes the author: “(1) A feeling that the struggle existential interests of the community; (2) support and encouragement of suicide attacks by generally accepted social agents, such as the media and figures of authority; and (3) an organization that transforms the raw readiness to actual behavior by recruiting the suicides and preparing the mission.” The author demonstrates that in Palestinian society, for example, “suicide attacks have been established as a praiseworthy act, a generally admired expression of patriotism and sacrifice. All social agents of influence have shared this attitude, thus creating an overwhelming impact on people’s opinions.“ These conditions do not obtain in Europe and North America.
Authors who claim that North America and Europe are threatened by Islamic terrorism should read twice these sensible words by author Merari. In fact, no European country is threatened by Islamic terrorism, even if all past attacks attributed to Islamists were authentic, in the sense of having been carried out by nominal Muslims. In most European countries, no person has ever died as a result of terrorism, all types included. About 25 times more people in Europe die as a result of a murder by a family member than in a terrorist attack. Are we to begin to suspect our spouses?
The author, fortunately, does not attempt to examine so-called suicide attacks committed in Europe and North America. His book would have been a masterpiece, if he had refrained from making unsubstantiated statements regarding the attacks of 9/11, the London Transport Bombings of 2005 and Osama bin Laden. Already in the Introduction the author qualifies 9/11 as a suicide attack, which is patently untrue. In any case, the U.S. authorities have not produced the slightest evidence that 19 Islamic terrorists boarded the aircraft that they
allegedly hijacked, no evidence that they possessed the necessary skills to pilot such aircraft, no evidence that hijackings took place, and no evidence that they intended to die on 9/11. The legend according to which four young Muslims sacrificed their lives in the London Transport Bombings on July 7, 2005, is equally untrue. And as to Osama bin Laden, he emphatically condemned the attacks of 9/11 as contrary to Islam. He even hinted in an interview with the Pakistani daily Ummat on 28 September 2001, that the attackers are to be searched within the U.S. system. Whatever one’s opinion about him, neither the U.S. Government nor the U.S. Justice Department ever charged him for 9/11. The FBI admitted in 2006 to possess no evidence, whatsoever, about a nexus between Osama bin Laden and 9/11.
Having mentioned these unfortunate mistakes by the author, I still recommend his book for its scientific excellence as regards the main subject of the book and hope that the author will correct these mistakes in a future edition.