‘Robert Fisk: The cult of the suicide bomber’

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(The weapon of the 21st century science fiction writers never envisioned)

A very disturbing article from Robert Fisk on the remarkable rise and spread of suicide bombers in Iraq and increasingly beyond its borders. Those who still believe the Iraq war is making us safer and the Middle East more stable ought to read this article. The fact that the surge has lowered the number of attacks in Iraq — and even this supposed “success” is likely only to be a quick fix before conditions get worse in the long term — has very little relevance unless you consider the wider goals of the Iraq war to be a decrease in the number of attacks against us there. I don’t. In my opinion the byproducts of the war, which intensify the longer U.S. forces remain in Iraq and the images continue to be broadcast into living rooms across the Middle East, are far more menacing and dangerous than the ones we hear about within the narrow confines of the current debate, circling around the success or failure of the surge and “winning in Iraq.” Read for yourself:

(The Independent) — A month-long investigation by The Independent, culling four Arabic-language newspapers, official Iraqi statistics, two Beirut news agencies and Western reports, shows that an incredible 1,121 Muslim suicide bombers have blown themselves up in Iraq. This is a very conservative figure…

This is perhaps the most frightening and ghoulish legacy of George Bush’s invasion of Iraq five years ago. Suicide bombers in Iraq have killed at least 13,000 men, women and children – our most conservative estimate gives a total figure of 13,132 – and wounded a minimum of 16,112 people. If we include the dead and wounded in the mass stampede at the Baghdad Tigris river bridge in the summer of 2005 – caused by fear of suicide bombers – the figures rise to 14,132 and 16,612 respectively.

Never before has the Arab world witnessed a phenomenon of suicide-death on this scale. During Israel’s occupation of Lebanon after 1982, one Hizbollah suicide-bombing a month was considered remarkable. During the Palestinian intifadas of the 1980s and 1990s, four per month was regarded as unprecedented. But suicide bombers in Iraq have been attacking at the average rate of two every three days since the 2003 Anglo-American invasion.

Even more profoundly disturbing is that the “cult” of the suicide bomber has seeped across national frontiers. Within a year of the Iraqi invasion, Afghan Taliban bombers were blowing themselves up alongside Western troops or bases in Helmand province and in the capital Kabul. The practice leached into Pakistan, striking down thousands of troops and civilians, killing even the principal opposition leader, Benazir Bhutto. The London Tube and bus bombings – despite the denials of Tony Blair – were obviously deeply influenced by events in Iraq…Click for full article

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