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Saturday, September 3, 2005

ROBERT PAPE'S DYING TO WIN: 2nd of a 4-article Series

A buggy series on jihad terrorism --- bombings and other attacks carried out by Al Qaeda and other radical Islamist groups --- started at the end of July 2005 and continued in a 2nd article on August 24th. As you'll see today, there have been over 2800 individual jihadist terrorist attacks world-wide since 9/11 and Al Qaeda's suicide-terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C. Yes, over 2800 such attack . . . almost all aimed at civilian targets in dozens of countries around the globe

Enter Robert Pape and Suicide-Terrorism

That 2nd buggy article on jihad terrorism was devoted entirely to probing the ideas and analysis that appeared in a recent book by Robert Pape, a professor of political science at the University of Chicago, on suicide-terrorism --- Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism its title --- and that have evoked a large favorable response in the popular media . . . especially on the political left.

Small Wonder.

The surprising thesis of the book is that all the organized suicide-terrorist attacks that erupted between 1980 and the end of 2003 --- or at least 95% of the 315 total, some 301 --- were carried out by well-organized terrorist groups, 9 in all that unfolded in 18 different suicide-terrorist campaigns that were all directed against the militarized occupational policies of democratic governments on their homeland territories. That's no less true of Al Qaeda than any of the other 8 terrorist groups.

In particular, its motives and those of the other 8 groups have been overwhelmingly nationalist, a desire for national self-liberation and autonomy from the alien occupier; and their suicide-terrorist attacks against the hated enemy have evoked popular support from their national and ethnic communities. (Pape, as the article showed, isn't sure whether bin Laden and Al Qaeda aim at liberating the Saudi peninsula from American occupation, or the entire Arab world of 300 million people in 21 countries, or entire 56 Muslim countries around the globe with over a billion people. He is sure, though, that bin Laden and the other Al Qaeda leaders and members are primarily nationalists and behave in accord with this theory.)

Altruistic Motives and Behavior of the Terrorists

What's more, the members of these terrorist organizations, leaders and bombers alike, turn out upon study to be essentially altruistic and wholly rational in choosing to assault the detested occupying power with a last-resort recourse of the weak --- way outgunned by the occupier --- to the terrifying weapon of suicide attacks.

Their altruism consists in their willingness to sacrifice themselves to the cause of national liberation. Their rationality fits the wider logic of all strategic action in armed conflicts between groups and states: to coerce an opponent by upping the costs of its behavior --- in the case of all the suicide-terrorist campaigns, the costs of its occupation of alien territory by force --- and hence shifting the cost/benefit calculus of the occupying countries' governments in an unfavorable direction: so much so that the government will, in the end, have to major concessions to the suicide-terrorists' leaders and followers as well as to their oppressed national or ethnic communities. In 7 of the 13 suicide-terrorist campaigns that had ended by the 2000, so Pape finds, the coercive logic paid off: the government of the occupying democratic country either wholly abandoned its occupation or largely accommodated the suicide-terrorists' aims. That's why there's been an unexpected

Religious Influences on the Suicide Terrorist Groups

In all these suicide-terrorist campaigns, Pape finds that religion has played at most a secondary and reinforcing influence on nationalist urges.

Not only that, Islam itself has been at most loosely associated with only about 50% of all the organized 301 suicide-terrorist bombings and other attacks. If Islam or Hinduism or Sikh religion --- the three involved in the 9 terrorist groups --- have had this kind of indirect influence, it's not been in the ways Bush, Blair, and dozens of other governments that have been attacked by jihad terrorists for over two decades believe it has. No, religion will at most aggravate the level of the antagonism between the occupying military power on one side and the suicide-terrorist groups and their ethnic or national communities on the other if --- and only if --- they represent different religions.

The US is secular and, so Pape argues, Christian in its culture, and hence that has sharpened the conflicts with Al Qaeda and other Islamist terrorist groups associated with it (tightly or loosely). Similarly, Al Qaeda and its franchises or imitators have declared war not just on the "covert colonialism" of the US, but all its allies in its colonial and occupational policies . . . including, apparently, almost all the Arab and Muslim governments world-wide that, in Al Qaeda's view, are renegade or apostate Muslims and depend ultimately on the US or Western armed powers for their existence. (The term "covert colonialism" is, note quickly, bin Laden's terminology, not Pape's. No matter. Pape insists more than once that what counts in determining what an alien occupier is and its allies is what the terrorists organizations happen to perceive and believe, not outsiders themselves. And Pape resolutely refuses to engage in "reality checking.")

Pape Ends with a Plea for a New Policy in Dealing with Al Qaeda

Pape singles out Al Qaeda as the US's only terrorist opponent, with none of the other suicide-terrorist groups that are Islamist like Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the like a threat to us at all ---Islam itself, in whichever form, always secondarily influential in their aims and behavior anyway. Not surprisingly, then, he argues that the Bush war on terrorism and its "invasions" of Muslim countries like Afghanistan and Iraq --- in a quixotic and disastrous policy of transforming them into western-like democracies --- have not just failed, but increased the terrorist threat to this country. What to do then? We should withdraw our forces from those countries and concentrate on protecting the oil fields of the Middle East --- Pape's view of what the main national interest of the US in the region --- by offshore deterrence against interruption of the oil supplies (presumably by Al Qaeda or others if their terrorism works to destabilize Saudi Arabia and other Arab and Muslim countries) with air- and sea-power, plus tightening immigration and border controls at home.

Once that happens, he insists, al Qaeda will no longer be able to convince Muslims to become terrorists and attack us abroad or at home, and for that matter Muslims world-wide will not be able to do anything but explicitly condemn such attacks. (In his last chapter, oddly, Pape says we should worry whether al Qaeda ever acquired nuclear weapons to use on it . . . especially since he has admitted earlier that bin Laden does at bottom hate the US as a country and culture, not just for its policies in the Saudi peninsula or elsewhere. It's odd, this worry and Pape's admission about bin Laden's hatred, no? After all, Pape has concluded his study by insisting that if our government were to follow his advice, then bin Laden and al Qaeda will have no reason any longer to attack us with terrorism, and in any case Muslims world-wide wouldn't support them if they tried.)

All these points about the Pape book and more were set out at length in the previous buggy argument. Today the argument shifts focus and begins to criticize in depth Pape's views and theory of suicide-terrorism --- their overall thrust and their individual main points and evidence. The buggy criticisms, note here at the outset, won't end with this article. Far from that, the series on Pape's book will likely take three or four more article to complete. Starting today, to be precise, prof bug will set out the Pape theory and main points under five or six key headings; and today's probing will be directed at only the first of these. Namely,




Pape claims that he has assembled a data bank that covers all the suicide terrorist attacks that erupted worldwide between 1980 and 2003. There were 315 attacks in all, of which 95% --- or 301 --- were unleashed in 9 separate conflicts that have involved 18 different organized, coherent campaigns. See the two parts of the relevant table below, which come from Pape's first chapter.

Of these 301 suicide-terrorist attacks, Islamic fundamentalism turns out to be associated with only a half. Other religions or secular ideologies have marked the other half; and even then, Pape interprets the data to clearly show that secular nationalism --- the desire of the suicide terrorist organizations to coerce an alien occupying power --- was the primary motive at work in animating the suicide-terrorist organizations and individual suicide attacks. Both points here are elaborated at length in later chapters by Pape. And both, as we'll see in a moment or two, are highly disputable, especially the first one . . . the claim about Islam (at times elsewhere in the book he says "Islamic fundamentalism) being at work in only half of the suicide-terrorist "attacks".

Note, to continue our summary of Pape's presentation of the data, that there are different numbers for separate conflicts (9) and organization-initiated suicide terrorism in 18 campaigns.

That's because the same terrorist organization has sometimes been engaged in multiple terrorist campaigns --- for instance, three series of different suicide-terrorist attacks initiated by Hezbollah . . . first against the US and France in Lebanon (1983); then in 1982-1985 against Israeli military invasion into its territory in southern Lebanon; and again in 1995-2000 to drive out Israeli occupiers and their local supporters. Hamas, another Islamist organization operating out of the West Bank and Gaza, has been involved in 5 such campaigns, all targeting Israel.


Thirteen of these campaigns ended before the start of 2004, 7 of them favorable to the terrorist organizations engaged in suicide-terrorism. Five were still ongoing as of December 2003 until Pape's manuscript was being printed. Here are the two parts of the table that Pape has created for exhibiting the data (Dying To Win, p. 15)

Untitled Document
Date Terrorists Religion Target Country Attacks
1983 Hezbollah Islam US,France 5
1982-85 Hezbollah Ialm Israel 11
1985-86 Hezbollah Islam Israel 20
1990-1994 LTTE Hindu/secular Sri Lanka 15
1995-2000 LTTE Hindu/secular Sri Lanka 54
1994 Hamas Islam Israel 2
1994-95 Hamas Islam Israel 9
1995 BKI Sikh India 1
1996 Hamas Islam Israel 4
1997 Hamas Islam Israel 3
1996 PKK Islam/secular Turkey 3
1999 PKK Islam/secular Turkey 11
2001 LTTE Hindu/secular Sri Lanka 6

Ongoing Suicide-Terrorist Campaigns At The End of 2003 Untitled Document
Date Terrorists Religion Target Country Attacks
1996- al-Qaeda Islam US, Allies 21
2000- Chechens Islam/secular Russia 19
2000- Kashmirs Islam India 5
2000- several Islam/secular Israel 92
2003- Iraq Rebels Unknown US, Allies 20



As it happens, there are several problems with all these claims --- either substantively or in the way Pape presents and interprets the data in the two parts of the table (and a later table as we'll see).

(i.) Did Pape Really Pin Down All Suicide-Terrorist Attacks Between 1980 and the End of 2003?

No, it seems doubtful . . . at any rate given his focus on 301 of the 315 suicide-terrorist bombings and other attacks that he focuses on . . . those, he claims, that alone were part of a systematic organized suicide-terrorist campaign. We can find some of the cases he omitted from his 301 organized suicide terrorist campaigns on p. 264 of Pape's book. Others you can't, as the suicide-terrorist attacks he missed or decided to dismiss as relevant are listed in the following table. Whatever his reason, Pape not only wrongly dismissed the two cases involving Egyptian Islamists --- and a third that he doesn't include at all in the discarded 14 attacks --- but the one involving Algeria, and the effect is to whitewash Islamist connections to suicide-terrorist attacks. (Of the 14 suicide cases Pape claims were "isolated", 13 have a clear Islamist link. The 14th was carried out in Sri Lanka by LTTE, another puzzling omission.)

It gets worse. Half of the 14 omitted attacks were carried out by well-established terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Hamas. Three others he lists as "unknown" group, one of which --- a motorcycle bomb aimed by a suicide-attacker at the interior minister of Egypt --- isn't listed in an authoritative study by the Jaffe On the other hand, Pape missed three important suicide-attacks by organized Egyptian terrorist groups, two of which attacks --- in Yugoslavia (Croatia in October 1995) and on the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan a month later --- he lists as "unknown"! The third sucide-attack was the most prominent of all --- 58 foreign tourists killed in Luxor, a tourist site in Egypt, in 1997. In all respects, the killing of the tourists --- mainly by knife (it brought the terrorists closer to their God by shedding the blood of infidels) --- entailed intentional suicide. As one report put it about all three:

. . . Egypt has also experienced suicide attacks by Islamists. For example, in a 1997 attack in Luxor, six gunmen from the group al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya killed fifty-eight foreign tourists. The gunmen remained at the attack site for forty-five minutes, hunting down tourists who had hidden. The gunmen made no attempt to flee, sticking to their deadly task and casually drinking soft drinks until security forces finally arrived and killed them easily. This was, in other words, a suicide operation. The two most prominent radical Islamist groups in Egypt -- Gama'a and Islamic Jihad -- have also carried out two suicide attacks outside of that country. The first was directed at a police station in Croatia in October 1995, and the other at the Egyptian embassy in Pakistan one month later

As you'll see in the next buggy article, the omission of Egypt from Pape's list of "301" organized suicide-cases --- and even more his confusion in his list of "isolated attacks" about the causes of a suicide suitcase bomb in Algeria in January 1995 (discussed in a moment or two) --- cause another problem for Pape other than to whitewash Islamist connections to suicide terrorism: neither Egypt nor Algeria is a democratic government, let alone an occupying one. Worse, Egypt figures in Pape's analysis in the text of his book as an "ally" of the US that does fit his (contorted) theory of how Al Qaeda has attacked only the US and its "allies". Egypt was never involved in the Afghan war, nor in the Iraq war; and it withdrew its small contributing forces from the Saudi peninsula (if Iraq is that) after the first Gulf war in 1991. Bin Laden and Al Qaeda no doubt see Egypt in these terms, but that too --- as the next article shows --- allows Al Qaeda terrorists to attack any country in the world, Muslim or not, that it deems a stooge of the US (itself, as Pape admits in passing at one point, seen by bin Laden to be controlled by Jews in its foreign policy).


Here, then --- keeping in mind these problems in Pape's data base and use of it --- are the suicide terrorist attacks that he missed --- either by omission or by wrongly burying them under the category of Al Qaeda suicide attacks on the US and its "allies" . . . a term, we'll see later, that Pape let bin Laden and his associates to define as they want. Only one attack by Al Qaeda figures in the following buggy list --- on a Tunisian synagogue in 2002 that killed mainly German and foreign tourists: in no way except in Al Qaeda minds --- which probably see all Muslim countries in the world except Iraq as American allies one way or another --- is Tunisia an ally of the US.

All of the attacks, you'll notice, are by Islamist terrorist groups.

Suicide Terrorist Campaigns Missed By Pape 1980-2003 Untitled Document
Date Terrorists Religion Target Country #Attacks #Killed & Wounded
1981 Egyptian Islamic Jihad Islamist Egypt 1 1 k (Pres Sadat); 12 w
1995 Egyptian Islamic Jihad Islamist Pakistan 1 16k; 60 w
1992 Hezbollah Islamist Argentina 1 29 k; 242 w
1994 Hezbollah Islamist Argentina 1 85 k; 300 w
1994 Anser Allah Islamist Panama 1 21 k;
1995 GIA: Armed Islamic Group (Algeria) Islamist Algeria 1 42 k; 265 w
1994 GIA Islamist France 1 aborted plane bombing of Eiffel Tower
1997 Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya & Jihad Talaat al-Fath. Islamist Egypt 1 62 k; 19 w
2002 Al Qaeda Islamist Tunisia 1 19 k
2002 Jemaah Islamiyah Islamist Indonesia (Bali) 1 202k;
2003 Jemaah Islamiyah Islamist Indonesia 1 12k; 150 w
2002 Al-Qaeda linked Somalis Islamist Kenya 1 13k; 80 w
2003 MILF: Moro Islamic Liberation Front Islamist Philippines   21 k; 150 w
2003 GIMC Moroccan Combatant Group Islamist Morocco 1 - 5 45k

*This abortive suicide bombing by a hi-jacked airline --- GIA out of Algeria the terrorist group in charge of the mission --- is singled out because it was intended, as the captured terrorists admitted, to crash into the Eiffel tower full of tourists. The mission failed when the French pilot claimed he had to stop in Marseilles to refuel, and French commandos stormed the plane,

**It's not clear how to list the 5 separate but simultaneous bombings in Casablanca. It depends on how Pape would define them: as 1 attack or 5.

(ii.) Problems with How Pape Interprets the Data in His Table for Casual Links
Data don't organize themselves. They never do.

How they're organized and the causal connections displayed and interpreted by an analyst --- even before modeling them statistically and running tests --- are always a matter of individual judgment. These judgments are almost always shaped by a clear theoretical purpose, plus personal inclinations --- often sub-conscious, sometimes not --- that influence the judgmental decisions. The result? Two scholars may end up with very different organizing schemes to highlight certain connections and play down others, and these different schemes will them influence markedly how the scholar specifies a statistical model --- say a simple or multi-regression model --- that seeks to sort out independent and dependent variables and test for "causal" connections. As for statistical modeling (which Pape uses later to test for any clear connection between Islamist extremism and Al Qaeda), specifying a model involves several subjective decisions at each point in the modeling and testing . . . not to ignore the interpretation of the alleged causal relations that the analyst makes.

What follows?

No sooner does Pape set out his data in the first table --- which omit or conceal the individual Islamist attacks that were singled out in the buggy list --- than he throws doubt on the connections with Islam. Only about half of the attacks were carried out, he says, by Islamic groups . . . quite apart from whether Islam or any religion was the main motivating force. But that's true only if three assumptions are made:

1) The number of attacks is the main criteria for deciding whether Islamic terrorist groups were involved;

2) The term Islam/secular --- which separates the PKK and Chechens suicide-terrorist attacks from the category Islam --- is unambiguous and an accurate depiction of the Turkish and Chechen terrorist movements, not to mention the "several" Palestinian terrorist groups attacking Israel since 2000. These attacks add up to 125 total attacks down through December 2003.

3) The 20 suicide attacks on the US and its allies in Iraq --- the latter a strange description for terrorist attacks of any sort against crowds of Iraqi citizens (roughly 10 times the number of casualties for every American soldier killed in Iraq by any means since May 2003) --- were really carried out by unknowns . . . or so Pape says. Generally, though, few Iraqis seem to be in the suicide-terrorist business at all; most of the bombers are foreign terrorists, about 40% apparently from Saudi Arabia alone (though estimates vary). Whatever, these suicide-terrorists are clearly Islamist --- whether connected to Abu Musab Al Zarqawi and Al Qaeda or to other radical Islamist groups.

Still, for the moment, add these 20 to the earlier 125 carried out by secular/Islam to the 1 attack launched by BKI (Sikh) and the 70 by LTTE (Hindu/secular), and you get 221 total non-Islamic attacks . . . almost 3/4 of the 301 suicide attacks carried out in 18 organized campaigns in the 23 years after the start of 1980. That, anyway, is the conclusion that follows from Pape's focus on the total number of suicide-terrorist attacks caused by well-structured terrorist organizations.


Seems straightforward, no?

No! Here are some problems with the Pape focus:

*Suppose, as a start, we shift our theoretical interests to a different measure of Islamic groups and way of defining the terrorist groups' identity.

Obviously LTTE and BKI are not Islamic at all; Muslims didn't figure in their organization's leadership, membership, or attackers (though LTTE has, recently, started recruiting some Muslim members). Of the Islam/secular groups, only the PKK --- the Kurdish Workers' Party in Turkey --- was clearly, unambiguously, secular in its ideology. Even the Chechen terrorist groups --- which were clearly nationalist and secular in the first war with Russia in the mid-1990s that ended in 1996 --- included more and more Islamists and Al-Qaeda trained members in the second war that is still going on. We have clear testimony of this from both the survivors of the Chechen terrorist occupation of the theater in Moscow that occurred in 2002 --- as well as those placed on trial --- and from the Beslan school occupation and horrific treatment of a couple of hundred young children in 2004.

*Then, too, it's puzzling why the several groups attacking Israel in suicide missions since 2000 are listed as Islam/secular.

Almost all the bombings and other attacks have been carried out by Hamas and Islamic Jihad (the latter Shia, aided by Hezbollah, Syria, and Iran), plus some shadowy Islamist groups that use disguised names. Only the Al Asqa Martyrs' Brigade --- a Fatah spin-off of the Palestinian Authority --- was secular nationalist in its origins and behavior; and not only did it not carry out even a quarter of the suicide missions, it has had trouble competing with the Islamist terrorist organizations in attracting members and suicide-bombers. (Regarding the latter point, it's owed to Mia Bloom --- a scholar who, unlike Pape, has done extensive field work with terrorist movements. click here for the link to her 2004 PDF article). As we'll see in detail later, an Israeli scholar --- Ariel Merari, whose earlier work Pape himself draws on for his views of suicide terrorism --- finds that only about 19% of the 145 suicide-terrorist attacks inflicted by Palestinian terrorist groups between September 2000 and August 2004 were the responsibility of Fatah itself. The rest, 81%, were planned and implemented by Islamist terrorists.


So what ensues?

Well, add in 16 of the 20 Iraqi "unknown" attackers to the Islamic list, and what do you now get a different picture of Islam and its connections to the 301 suicide terrorist attacks that Pape has focused on. That's 2/3 of the total attacks --- which results in a different picture than Pape leaves in his readers' minds, no?


(iii.) Does Pape Use the Right Criterion in the Previous Analysis We've Just Looked At?

The answer: no. At any rate, his criterion seems tendentious as though he has striven to conceal a clear presence of Islamists in suicide terrorisms. In particular, right from the outset of chapter two in his book --- where his first table appears (p. 15) --- Pape singles out the number of suicide bombings and other attacks as the key index for analyzing any links to to Islam. Since Islam is only found at work in 50% of so of the 301 organized suicide terrorist attacks, he finds that it isn't a major causal influence in suicide terrorism generally, quite apart from its being secondary and indirect --- like all religious influences --- as a motivating drive. But look . . . why not terrorist campaigns? Of the 18 individual suicide campaigns, 12 have been Islamist in nature --- about 2/3 of the total, an encouraging result that matches the buggy re-analysis of the total attacks and Islamic connections.

The point can be taken a step or two further.

If you look only at the individual terrorist organizations listed in the Pape table together, they add up to 9 in total. Of these, 6 are Islamist, 1 is Islamic/secular (the PKK, the Kurdish Workers Party in Turkey), and 1 (LTTE) is Hindu/secular in Sri Lanka. Once again, Islam is associated clearly with 2/3 as the defining nature of the group's religion, or 77% if you count the PKK as Islamic too.

It gets worse for Pape's view of at most a loose connection between Islam and suicide terrorism, again between 1980 and the end of 2003. If you look at another table in Pape on p. 40, he lists the number of people killed in the 18 suicide-terrorist campaigns during that 23 year period. They add up to about 6100 in all. Of these, 87% --- roughly 5300 --- were caused by Islamic groups.


(iv.) Consider Now Pape's Criterion in the Light of His Overlooked Islamist Suicide-Terrorist Attacks

Specifically, shift your attention back to the buggy table that appears as a corrective to the omitted suicide terrorist attacks or campaigns that occurred between 1980 and the end of 2003. You'll find 12 attacks he missed, all caused by 10 individual suicide-terrorist groups --- each and every one Islamist. Since the BKI --- the Sikh terrorist group --- is listed by Pape for one attack in his table, listing these 1 attacks by Islamist groups seems in line with his logic. What follows? We now have 19 total suicide-terrorist organizations that carried out attacks after 1980, not just 9, and hence 16 or 17 of them are Islamic nature --- somewhere between 84 and 89% of the total. And the total individual attacks carried out by suicide-terrorist organizations rises almost to 70% of that total.

Nor is this the end of Pape's diluting or hiding Islamic connection to suicide-terrorisms --- far from it. Add in the total number of killed victims in these omitted or concealed Islamist attacks, and you get 593. Add those to the 6100 total killed in the 301 suicide-terrorist attacks Pape does study, and you get 6693 . . . with 5893 caused by Islamist terrorists. The overall result? A good 89% of the total number of victims --- a figure you won't find anywhere in the Pape book --- can be traced back to Islamist extremism and the suicide terrorist attacks it inspired.


(v.) What Kinds of Suicide-Terrorism Really Preoccupy and Worry the Governments and Populations of More Than A
Hundred or So Countries World-Wide These Days?

Go back to the two parts of the Pape table that you'll find at the outset of these buggy criticisms. As you can see, all the ongoing suicide-terrorist campaigns since December 2003 are Islamic in nature with one exception. That exception is Fatah, part of the Palestinian Authority itself; but that isn't much of an exception. In particular, of the 181 successful terrorist attacks of all sorts launched by various Palestinian terrorist groups between September 2000 and the start of August 2004, 147 --- or 81% --- were carried out by Islamist jihad groups. (Ariel Merari, the Israeli scholar Pape himself draws on, is the source of these figures.


The wider conclusion from this last paragraph and the previous buggy analysis.?

Since 2000 down to the present, all the suicide-terrorisms that have been inflicted on dozens of countries world-wide have been initiated by Islamist jihad groups . . . Al Qaeda, groups loosely associated with it, or others. A surprise? Hardly. And yet this hard fact that flies in the face of the Pape analysis.

From Pape's analysis, for that matter, you can't even explain why the US, Australian, Canadian, European, Russian, North African, and Arab governments --- not to mention almost all the other Muslim governments in place elsewhere, and India, China, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, and others in Asia (or probably Africa now) --- aren't preoccupied with Sikh terrorist attacks carried out by a small religious sect in India on its Hindu citizens, or with a Marxist-Leninist and Hindu/secular LTTE terrorist group (or other Tamil Tiger groups) operating in tiny Sri Lanka.

(LTTE, please observe, has recruited children in droves for suicide-attacks, some as young as 9 years old . . . a fact missed by Pape. With terrorist recruits that young, the leaders of LTTE have been engaged in systematic, long-term indoctrination and brain-washing that are indistinguishable from what religious cults practice --- whether Islamic, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, or what have you. As for terrorist attacks on non-military citizens who aren't Sri Lanka citzens, LTTE has engaged in only one attack: it assasinated the former India Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, in 1991 . . . a payback for Gandhi's ordering Indian troops into Sri Lanka, where they carried out brutal battles and even some massacres with the Tamil separatists and citizens. Other than that, they have not launched any attacks on Indian officials or citizens in India itself.

So should the rest of the world's 6 billion people be worried about LTTE suicide-attacks on their countries?)


The practical and policy-oriented irrelevance of Pape's analysis for the vast number of countries in the world that are vulnerable to jihadist terrorism can be brought out in another way: the number of suicide terrorisms carried out by Islamists since December 2003 . . . the end point of Pape's; study.

Radical Islamist terrorists have struck in Indonesia again, at least once or more, and similarly in the Philippines and Thailand in Asia. The same is true of Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, Kuwait, Iraq, Israel, and Saudi Arabia in the Middle East. In Europe, Spain, Britain, Holland, and Russia have been terrorized by Jihadists once or more. In South Asia, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Bangladesh have been repeatedly attacked. If you want a total number of victim-countries, there have been 27 struck by Al Qaeda alone since the early 1990s. Of these victim countries, only India worries about Sikh terrorism --- essentially ended anyway --- and an occasional Tamil Tiger operation still in tiny Sri Lanka.

Here, in tabular form, are the terrorist attacks of Al Qaeda carried out since 9/11 through the first British bombing attacks on July 7th, 2005. The table omits the subsequent British bombings later in the month, not to mention those in Egypt that were particularly murderous (several hundred victims).

Al Qaeda Terrorist Attacks Over the Years

Untitled Document
26-Feb-93 USA (New York) First World Trade Center bombing planned by Ramzi Youssef. 6 killed, over 1000 injured.
11-Dec-94 Philippines Small bomb on Philippines Airlines flight; 1 Japanese businessman killed, 10 people injured.
29-Jul-95 France (Paris and Lyon) 4-month bombing campaign. Attacks on the Paris metro, the Arc de Triomphe and outside a Jewish school in Lyon.
13-Nov-95 Saudi Arabia (Riyadh) Car bombs at military compound.
18-Sep-97 Egypt(Cairo) Gunmen attack a tourist bus.  9 Germans and 1 Egyptian killed.
17-Nov-97 Egypt (Luxor) Gunmen attack tourists. c.70 killed.
7-Aug-98 Kenya (Nairobi) and Tanzania (Dar-es-Salaam) Truck bomb attack against US embassies. Over 200 people killed, thousands injured.
12-Oct-00 Yemen Boat bomb attack on the USS Cole in the port of Aden. 17 US soldiers killed, 39 wounded.
11-Sep-01 USA (New York and Washington) Hijacked planes crashed into the two World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. A fourth plane crashes into a field in Pittsburgh. c. 3000 killed.
11-Apr-02 Tunisia Vehicle bomb attack against a synagogue on the resort island of Djerba. c.21 killed.
8-May-02 Pakistan (Karachi) Bomb attack against bus carrying French engineers near Sheraton Hotel.
14-Jun-02 Pakistan (Karachi) Truck bomb attack against US Consulate. 12 killed, 51 injured.
6-Oct-02 Yemen Boat bomb attack against French oil tanker MV Limburg off Ash Shahir port. 1 killed.
12-Oct-02 Indonesia (Bali) Attacks against US Consulate, Sari Club and Paddy's Bar. 202 killed, including 26 Britons. 
28-Nov-02 Kenya (Mombasa) Attack on an Israeli-owned hotel. 12 killed. Surface-to-air missile launched at Israeli airliner the same day.
12-May-03 Saudi Arabia (Riyadh) Attacks at 3 compounds housing expatriates.  Over 30 killed.
16-May-03 Morocco (Casablanca) Multiple suicide bombings against Spanish club, hotel and sites.  45 dead, c.100 injured.
5-Aug-03 Indonesia Vehicle bomb attack against Marriott Hotel.  c. 12 killed, 100 injured.
8-Nov-03 Saudi Arabia (Riyadh) Major vehicle bomb attack against residential compound housing mainly expatriate workers from other Arab countries. 17 killed, over 80 injured.
15-Nov-03 Turkey (Istanbul) 2 vehicle bomb attacks at Jewish synagogues.
20-Nov-03 Turkey (Istanbul) 2 vehicle bombs at HSBC Bank and British Consulate. Together with 15 Nov attack, over 60 people killed (including 2 Britons).
11-Mar-04 Spain (Madrid) Bomb attacks against 4 trains. Terrorists blew themselves up when confronted by police.  199 killed.
1-May-04 Saudi Arabia (Yanbu) Attack on expatriate oil workers. 6 foreign nationals and 1 Saudi killed.
30-May-05 Saudi Arabia (Al Khobar) 4 attacks in Al Khobbar target oil companies and compound.
9-Sep-04 Indonesia (Jakarta) Vehicle bomb outside Australian Embassy. 9 killed, over 100 injured.
8-Oct-04 Egypt Large explosions at Hilton Hotel in Taba and at 2 campsites in the Sinai area. Over 30 killed.
28-Oct-04 Pakistan (Islamabad) Explosion at Marriott Hotel. 7 injured.
19-Mar-05 Qatar (Doha) Vehicle bomb attack outside the Doha Players' Theatre.  1 (British national) killed, 12 injured. 
07-Apr-05 Egypt (Cairo) Attack near tourist bazaar in Cairo.  2 French nationals and one American killed,  c.18 injured. 
30-Apr-05 Egypt (Cairo) Tourist bus fired on in Cairo. 8 injured.  
07-Jul-05 UK (London) 4 explosions - 3 in tube trains, one in bus.  At least 52 dead, 700 injured.


Further Problems with Pape's Data and His Use of It Need to be Singled Out:

(vi.) Pape's Focus on Successful Suicide-Terrorist Attacks Is Too Narrow

Pape distinguishes clearly between successful suicide-terrorism and those attacks that failed. This seems very restrictive and results in further dilution of Islamist connections and influences on such terrorism.

Start with the causes of those failures, two of which stand out: first and overwhelmingly, the intelligence and security forces of the target countries stopped them before bombs or shootings could go off; and secondly, once in a while a would-be suicide agent has lost heart and abandoned the mission before it was completed. True, pinning down the numbers of thwarted and abortive suicide-missions isn't easy to come by in most cases: witness both the US and UK governments, which have claimed that they have interrupted and stopped several attempted attacks on their soil without, understandably, spelling out the terrorist groups, members (and possible informants), and exact nature of their targets. True too, though, Pape doesn't even mention these failed or thwarted attacks, and at least in the Israel case, we have good data on the number --- compiled by Ariel Merari, a good Israel scholar from whose earlier work (back in the late 1980s) Pape himself derived the notion that secular nationalism trumps religion as a motivating factor in terrorist movements.

According to Merari, there were 135 Palestinian terrorist attacks launched between September 2000 --- when the second Infitada began --- but there were more than 3 times that number thwarted by Israeli forces: some 405. Of these successful attacks, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other Islamist groups carried out about over 75%. Fatah, which is secular (part of the PA, recall), was responsible for only 25% or so, and what's more, it increasingly has had trouble competing for members and bombers with the Islamist terrorist movements.

Our conclusion?

It's straight-forward. Add in what seem to be hundreds of Islamist-inspired attacks world-wide that the US, EU governments, Russia, Turkey, Arab countries, and Asian and African countries have thwarted, and you get a much better idea of how Islamist extremism is linked clearly to global terrorism these days, and --- no less important --- why it is Islamist terrorist threats of any sort, suicidal or not, that worry the large majority of the world's governments and peoples world-wide, rather than the tiny Sikh terrorist group in India or LTTE in Sri Lanka.


(vii.) Pape Blames the Two Recent Series of Jihad Terrorist Attacks in Britain Wholly on British Forces and Policies in the Arabian Peninsula (including Iraq)

Pape's book, recall, stops its study of suicide-terrorism at the end of 2003. A little more than a month ago, he was interviewed in the media for his views on the recent London terrorist attacks, and it was then that he made the claim just mentioned about the causes of the bombings. The clear inference is that the British, as an oppressive and military occupier in the heart of the Muslim world deserved to be punished (or coerced).

No surprise here; just the opposite.

It's the same view that Pape applies in his book to the US and 26 other countries world-wide that have been attacked by Al Qaeda terrorists --- or other jihad groups --- over the last few years: Al Qaeda, bin Laden, and the other jihad terrorists are all motivated by defensive nationalist motives to liberate their homeland --- Pape isn't sure if it's Saudi Arabia, the whole Arab world, or the entire world of 57 Islamic countries --- from alien occupying forces. As long as the US and its allies --- the latter term needing to be left entirely open, Pape insists, to how Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups interpret it; not outsiders themselves --- then they will be attacked defensively again and again, and what's more the clear inference from Pape's analysis is that they deserve to be attacked.

The reality?

To return to the recent terrorist bombings in Britain, Pape's view exaggerates the role of Iraq or British military activity there or elsewhere in the Saudi peninsula. Agreed: there is some connection with these and other suicide-terrorist attacks by jihadists in Britain or Spain earlier --- but to trace all the blame to British policy as an ally of the US in Iraq or elsewhere in the Saudi peninsula for these two series of terrorist bombings is not just wrong, but flagrantly so.


There's clear evidence of this.

Specifically, a recent Indian court was told explicitly by a jihad al Qaeda terrorist --- Mohammed Afroze, who was tried and convicted of terrorism, Indian soil --- that he had led another al Qaeda cell earlier that had intended to crash commercial airline-planes in London on 9/11, the day of the suicide-attacks in New York and Washington. That mission failed only because the terrorists lost their courage and scampered away from Heathrow airport that day. Afroze's fellow terrorists were from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Afghanistan, and their mission was to hijack Manchester-bound planes into the Tower Bridge and House of Commons in London.

Nor is that all. Afroze confessed to something else: his groups were planning and training for attacks on Melbourne Australia in 2001 and then the Indian Parliament after. What did Australia or India have to do with British or US military policy in the Middle East before any wars to combat jihad terrorism in Taliban Afghanistan and to topple the Iraqi dictatorship of Saddam Hussein (whose government had violated 16 UN resolutions passed by the Security Council for 12 years by March 2003)? The answer: nothing.

You want more evidence? In April 2004, Spanish police discovered a bomb on a line between Madrid and Seville --- the bomb exactly like those that terrorists had used to slaughter hundreds of people on trains in Madrid to those that slaghtered hundreds of peple in suicide-attacks on Madrid trains a month earlier March 2003 --- that was hidden on the tracks after the new Spanish socialist government had publicly said that it would withdraw all Spanish troops from Iraq by the start of the summer. And while it's not entirely clear from bin Laden's reference to Andalusia --- Southern Spain, from which the last stronghold of Muslims in that country was destroyed in 1492 --- that restoring it to Muslim rule is a clear aim of his, we do know from numerous Muslim sources that once a country is Islamic, it should never be allowed to slip back into the hands of infidels. (For one up-to-date reference, see the lengthy quote later in this article by Thomas Haidon, a convert to Islam who is very critical of the hatred and violence embraced by radical Islamists.)


(viii.) Why Draw Such A Rigid Line Between Suicide Terrorism and Other Terrorist Attacks?

A final problem with Pape --- which further whitewashes Islamist jihad terrorism --- is the way he draws a rigid line between suicide terrorism and terrorist attacks of other sorts.

His rationale, set out in the first two chapters, is that the suicide attacks are far more lethal --- about 20 to 21 times more so; and so they are particularly well-suited to coercing governments . . . more specifically, in Pape's view, coercing alien occupying countries, all of which have been democratic. And it's true: most of the time, suicide-terrorism is especially frightening and destructive --- but not to the extent that Pape implies; not so much anyway that it can be set off and hermetically studied apart and in separation from other terrorist attacks. Suitcase bombs left on the Madrid trains by terrorists who escaped killed hundreds in March 2004, to take just one example; and shootings by two men in the Washington D.C. area in a spree of three weeks in the fall of 2002 frightened more than a million in the areas attacked. A suitcase bomb left with a nuclear device would be terrifying in the extreme, not to mention the numbers of actual casualties.


More to the point, by so strictly distinguishing between terrorist activities that are suicidal or not, Pape further diminishes the clear links between raging jihad terrorism and Islamist extremism. A table compiled daily by ReligionofPeace.comshows that --- since 9/11's massacres in New York and Washington D.C. --- there have been more than 2800 Muslim terrorist attacks around the world as of August 28, 2005. To repeat: in the four years since 9/11, Muslim-inspired terrorism has resulted in 2800 different attacks against mainly civilian targets.

Here are the criteria used by the linked site for tracking Islamist terrorism. These criteria, as you can see from the explanation on the site, don't exaggerate the number of attacks. If anything, they miss several terrifying forms of violence and terror inflicted by Islamic governments . . . as in the Sudan:

This list, of over 2600 terrorist attacks committed by Muslims since/01 (a rate of about two per day), is incomplete because not all attacks were picked up by international news sources, even those involving multiple loss of life. We included an attack if it were committed by Muslims in the name of Islam, and usually only if loss of life occurred (with a handful of exceptions where there were a very large number of injuries). In several cases, the victims are undercounted because deaths from trauma caused by the Islamists may occur in latter days, despite the best efforts of medical personnel to keep the victims alive.

We usually avoided including acts occurring in combat situations, such as the recent action in Iraq, unless they involved particularly heinous terrorist tactics. Unprovoked sniper, drive-by or roadside bombing attacks on military personnel serving normal police duties are sometimes included when available.

Unfortunately this list of Muslim terrorist attacks barely scratches the surface of atrocities committed in the name of Islam that occur world-wide each day. Only a handful of cases from the country of Sudan were included, for example, even though the Muslim government has killed nearly two million Christians and other non-Muslim black Africans in the last two decades. Sudan, like other Islamic Republics, strictly controls access to areas where people have cause for complaint. The human toll has been horrific, with Jihad fighters using rape, torture and slavery to decimate the black African people.

The overall magnitude of the violence, of which this Web site hopes to educate, is such that it is nearly impossible to find all incidents of Islamic terror. When doing research over the past year, it was quite typical to come across accounts of massacres from news sources which also mentioned that several hundred other people had lost their lives in the violence over a period of time. Yet supporting news reports could not be found (over the Internet) to provide the basic information for including these casualties. It is not that they didn't occur, just that they were occurring too often.


The earlier point about Sudan being missed in the criteria needs to be clarified. On the extraordinary brutality, mayhem, and massacres inflicted by that government on first infidels in the south for decades, and more recently on black Muslims in Kafur, consider the comments by Thomas Haidon . . . an an American lawyer who is an adviser to the UN High Commission on Refugees in Khartoum, Sudan --- and is himself a convert to Islam:

Haidon: Greetings Dr. Glazov, Professor Phares and Mr Lewis. It is certainly an honor and a pleasure.

I agree with both men. Clearly, the acts being committed against Black Darfurians are primarily based upon classical "jihad" and anti-African racism.

However, there is also a political/economic element that has added further fuel to the fire. Khartoum has used this element to further encourage the Janawid militias to murder and pillage. The ilk of the Janjawid and other nomadic Arab tribes have always been given preferential treatment by Khartoum over settled Black African Darfurian farmers. This is why government positions were attacked by Darfurians in the West. The Janjawid are therefore not only motivated by Islam, and racial hatred, but are in a prime position for a power grab over some of the sparse arable sections of the West. Nonetheless, the concept of Jihad should be viewed as a strong undercurrent behind the governments support for the Janjawid in Darfur. "Jihad" is likely a more strong policy consideration of the Bashir regime. As Professor Phares points out, the Islamic government of Sudan was never prepared to recognize the self-determination of any other people in Sudan. This is the common thread that Islamic states have shared throughout history in terms of ethnic and religious minorities: the non-recognition of their self-determination. Self-determination does not have to mean secession or statehood, but does necessitate some level of autonomy.

The self-determination of religious and ethnic minorities is an anathema to the Islamic state. This is an essential concept of Islam. Non-Muslims are dhimmi. Thus it is of no surprise to see Muslim violence against non-Muslim's in Muslim countries, whether it be in Sudan of in Iraq.


Remember, the buggy assessment of Pape's data and his interpretation and use of it in his book has been confined to only one set of problems and drawbacks of his overall argument. The next couple of buggy articles will continue the series on his book, showing that there are other clusters of problems that mar his argument . . . all these problems and drawbacks culminating in a thesis about suicide-terrorism that is not only lopsided and wrong, but obscures the clear connections between Islamist extremism and growing terrorism of any sort in the world --- suicidal or otherwise --- that is jihad in inspiration, motive-force, and deed. It adds up, to repeat, to whitewashing radical Islamism as the overwhelming ideology of the jihadists . . . not nationalism, not Hinduism, not Sikh-ism, and not Marxist-Leninism.

Even if you confined your reading to this one buggy article, you should be able clearly to see how Pape's analysis of suicide terrorist attacks --- based on an incomplete data-set and his interpretation and use of it --- obscures the dominant role of Islamist extremism in that one form of terrorism. Worse, if that's all you had ever heard or read about terrorism before, you'd never even begin to grasp the reasons why a hundred or more governments in the world --- whether democratic and western, or democratic and Muslim (two or three), or dictatorial and Muslim (53 of 56 Muslim countries world-wide), or dozens of non-Muslim dictatorships --- are worried and rightly preoccupied with jihad terrorism and Islamist extremism . . . rather than with one suicide-terrorist attack launched by Sikhs in India or dozens of others carried out by Tamil-Tiger Hindu-Marxists in the tiny country of Sri Lanka ( often by young brainwashed children).


The evaluation of Pape's book, Dying to Win, will continue in the next buggy article . . . to be published, probably, a few days from now.

Replies: 2 comments

On the topic of suicide terrorism, I think it would be interesting if someone would expand the analysis with a comparison to our previous confrontation with Japanese "kamikaze" suicide attacks during WWII. The History channel recently ran a program on the Japanese kamikaze movement. Similar to Islamic terrorism, the Japanese participants were largely young recruits with strong religious motivations and promises of "afterlife" awards etc. The Kamikaze movement was largerly pushed by religious leaders in Japan, and not orginally by the old Japanese military elite. One of the main differences with Islamic terrorism, is the Japanese suicide attacks did focus on US military targets, while Islamic terrorist prefer mass civilian casualties. However, the Japanese may have lacked civilian targets at that stage of the war. Anyhow, a in depth comparison would be interesting, especially considering that some of the lessons learned in overcoming the Japanese fanatics apply today against Islamic terrorism. Frankly, I believe that the planners of 911 may have got the idea of crashing planes into targets from the Kamikaze.

Posted by Tim McNulty @ 09/07/2005 02:45 PM PST

Another terrific analysis -- insightful as always. Your page is always part of my Sunday morning reading, along with the NY Times, Washington Post, and Weekly Standard. I do however miss the daily mailing list postings that used to go out a few years back.

Posted by Matthew Mishory @ 09/04/2005 04:12 PM PST