THE MAGAZINE

Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror

By Mayer Nudell, CSC

***** Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror. By Mia Bloom; published by Columbia University Press, www.columbia.edu/cu/cup (Web); 280 pages; $26.50.

Hardly a day goes by when there isn’t news of a suicide attack—if not in Iraq, then in Israel, or perhaps in Indonesia, Chechnya, or Sri Lanka. Such attacks are among the most fearsome and, on their face, hard-to-prevent forms of terrorism. Americans dread the day that the tactic takes root in the United States.

Before this evil can be stopped, it must be understood. In this book, Mia Bloom, an assistant professor of political science at the University of Cincinnati, tries to explain what motivates suicide bombers. Bloom, who also serves as a consultant to the New Jersey Office of Counter Terrorism, provides a comprehensive look at the historical antecedents of modern suicide attacks and how that tactic has come to be used today. She makes a convincing case that “there is nothing inherently dysfunctional about the Islamic faith per se that predisposes its adherents toward violence,” demonstrating considerable evidence that suicide terrorism has been employed by many other religious, as well as secular, groups.

Perhaps most importantly, Bloom concludes that terrorist groups use suicide bombings under either of two conditions: “when other terrorist or military attacks fail and when they are in competition with other terrorist groups for popular/financial support.”

With its thorough presentation of information, Dying to Kill gives readers the perspective with which to consider how effective current counterterrorism policies might be in dealing with this problem.


Reviewer: Mayer Nudell, CSC (Certified Safety and Security Consultant), is a security consultant in North Hollywood, California. He is a member of ASIS.

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