Attrition: Suicide Bomb Organizations In Pakistan


October 25, 2007: Suicide bombs are becoming a more popular terrorist weapon in Pakistan. The one last week, that attempted to kill former prime minister Benazir Bhutto, was the deadliest to date, with a record 143 dead. Most of the 56 suicide bombs used in Pakistan over the last five years, killed far fewer. The 55 previous bombs killed an average of ten people. During this period, the deadliest bomb was a 2003 attack in Baluchistan, that left 53 dead.

Over the last two years, al Qaeda and the Taliban have put an enormous effort into creating a suicide bombing organization. As a result, 52 percent of the last five years bombings have taken place in the first ten months of this year. More people have died from other types of terrorist violence, and there are many other Islamic militant operations in Pakistan. The Sunni and Shia groups are particularly violent, as well as Moslem groups that attack Christians, Hindus and other infidels (non-Moslems.) But the suicide bombs get the most attention, which is one reason terrorists prefer them. However, suicide bomber organizations are expensive to operate and take time to set up. Each suicide bomber attack is supported by a team of ten or more people. The "technicians" do things like make the bomb, and come up with a costume the bomber can wear and carry the bomb undetected. There are instructors to teach the bomber how to act, and then drill the bomber to make sure he can do it under the stress of moving among alert security personnel looking for him. There are also several "minders" who stay with the volunteer bomber to make sure he doesn't un-volunteer. And then there are recruiters, looking for more bombers. There are also administrative personnel, to handle records and cash. A large cash payment (usually several thousand dollars) is paid to the family of the suicide bomber, to insure that the kin don't bad mouth the terrorists, and make it easier to pretend that their dead son was truly a hero.

On the down side, most suicide bombings in Pakistan, as in Iraq, have mainly killed innocent civilians. The Islamic militants try to explain this away by declaring the dead civilians to be involuntary "martyrs." That doesn't work when it comes to public attitudes towards the bombings. But al Qaeda and the Taliban, like many previous terrorist organizations, appear to believe that this backlash won't happen to them. It will. It has, and it's going to get worse.


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