Along the Tracks

Friday, June 21, 2002

Depression and suicide bombing

The Times also has a piece on the culture of suicide bombing among the Palestinian people - fascinating and frightening. Even a sympathetic portrayal can’t help but show these young people are being used in the most horrid fashion.

Arien Ahmed, a 20-year-old woman who planned to commit a suicide bombing then repented at the last moment and was captured by security, is the focus of the analysis. Her boyfriend had committed a murder suicide a short time before she made the sudden decision to blow herself up, and within a couple days of telling Tanzin organizers, she had a backpack bomb and was on the streets of Israel. No indoctrination, no training - other than how to push the button.

But there are some very interesting points that I don’t think the author (James Bennet) investigated fully. First, this girl, while talking about “humiliation” of her family and television images of Israeli incursions, seemed less motivated by politics - and certainly not by religion - than by personal loss and depression. Indeed, while the analysis indicates there is no profile of suicide bomber, the one common factor appears to be individual “depression.” The terrorist leaders and the terrorist Palestinian Authority base their power on using depression: The subsumption of a “worthless” self beneath a societal or religious “glorification” through suicide-murder. That is why people still live in “refugee camps” 50 years after they moved into an area. The PA/PLO doesn’t want them to “get comfortable”; suffering leads to hopelessness, hopelessness to depression, and depression to human-guided missiles Arafat and his henchmen can use to further their own agendas.

In Ms. Ahmed’s case, her background saved her: Although Muslim, she went to a Lutheran high school in a Christian Israeli town, and had many Israeli friends. Besides the fact her feelings toward Israel would naturally be conflicted, I think her experience with Jews and Christians, and perhaps even Muslims with a more secular background and less extremist philosophy, awakened something in her soul - she called promises of instant paradise to suicide bombers “ridiculous,” and in the end she couldn’t push the button on her bomb because she knew inside it was wrong. These facts clearly seem connected to me, but Bennet does look into it at all.

Also interesting is the reaction of two peoples to a repentent would-be bomber. Although Ms. Ahmed expected years in prison for her attempted murder, the Israelis say they will probably not charge her at all, since she is clearly remorseful and shows no wish to harm anyone. When she was asked what she will do if she is released soon, she said she would probably move to Jordan. Why? Because she her “nation” - the Palestinians - would refuse her as a “coward.”

Says a lot about those two societies, doesn't it.

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