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Inside a Mind of the Suicide Bomber

There appears to be an almost endless supply of fighters willing to die for their cause in Iraq,Palestine. Suicide bombers have routinely struck U.N. buildings, hotels and checkpoints since the end of major combat in the country.

The weapon of choice is usually an explosive-packed automobile, but explosive vests have been used as well. U.S. intelligence officials say the majority of the bombers are not foreign fighters, as many believe. The big myth is that there s an endless supply of suicide bombers, that the foreign fighters are everywhere.

What made them to act like this, The deaths of their own families, the destruction of their homes — all these are leading to frustration and anger and hopelessness, and they want the enemy to feel the same frustration and hopelessness, so they are resorting to this violence, said Muqtedar Khan, visiting fellow in foreign policy studies at the Brookings Institution and an expert in political Islam.

But it also appears that not all of the bombers are willing participants. U.S. military officials have found body parts in vehicles used in suicide bombings — left by the frantic people who were trapped inside, unable to flee.

What we ve found in a number of places are hands chained to a steering wheel, Custer said. We found a foot roped into the car unable to escape.

He said in some cases, it appeared that men were forced to carry out suicide bombings because their families were being held hostage.

We ve seen a number of incidents where — wives [and] children kidnapped — [the] fathers forced to drive a car, even so far as to have a car following it with a remote, Custer said.

And U.S. commanders say they are seeing a new tactic in the field — insurgents sending two suicide bombers to launch an attack, in case the first one backs out.

A Sense of Mission

Residents of Kalkilia, where Hotari is celebrated as a hero, point to the Israeli tanks in the streets and bulletholes in their homes. They blame the Israeli government and the Americans, who they say support Israel.

What would you do if this was your home? asked one man.

A feeling of desperation and helplessness, residents say, is what fuels the suicide bomber.

A sense of mission empowers him, explained Dr. Eyad Sarraj, a Palestinian psychiatrist and one of the world s foremost experts on suicide bombers. The identification with his people tells him that out of this misery, out of this despair, you have to act.

Suicide bombers are trained to dehumanize their victims, said Jerald Post, a psychologist at George Washington University in Washington who recently completed a project interviewing 35 imprisoned Palestinian terrorists.

It isn t killing innocent victims, he said. It s killing the enemy. And even children will grow up to be an enemy one day.

The teaching of Islam tells you if you die for God, you don t actually die, said Sarraj. In fact, you find in the last seconds of people acting this act, they smile.

Others, however, say there are also financial incentives. Terrorist organizations may promise to give money to the families of suicide bombers.

The suicide bombing operation is very secretive. The bombers don t even say goodbye to their families, though they may sometimes record a farewell on videotape.

It is a declaration, I am committed. Everyone is watching, said one of the Bomber . People are usually so ecstatic about it.

After recording the farewell, bombers may also be less likely to change their minds.

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