Female suicide bombers : desperation or weapon of choice? the case of Palestine
Yaregal, Woineshet T.
Thesis (M.A.L.S.)--Georgetown University, 2011.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. Female suicide bombing is relatively a recent trend, but an increasingly disquieting one. Although utilized by both religious and secular groups, female suicide bombing has become a frequent modus operandi by the groups in the Muslim world. As a terrorism expert, Rohan Gunaratna estimates, "about thirty percent of Islamic suicide bombings have been conducted by women." It has particularly been the case in Palestine where female suicide bombing had been a routine occurrence since the first "official" female suicide bombing of 2002. This phenomenon has created a dilemma in applying 'culturally competent' counter-measures -- measures that are designed based on understanding the cultural background, religious beliefs, and gender of a particular society. Hence, the question that one ought to ask is this; how can effective counter-measures be designed and implemented to combat this problem?; It is true that Palestinian female suicide bombing has been on a relative remission since 2006. However, given the history of the conflict, and the present turmoil in the Arab world, it will be difficult not to think about the possibility of a rising wave of female suicide bombings which could result in devastating consequences extending well beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict zone.; As a step in addressing this problem, the thesis will analyze three fundamental questions: First, what is the logic behind using women as suicide bombers from the perspective of the groups that utilize this modus operandi? Second, why are women increasingly able to engage in such a mission considering the patriarchal nature of the Palestinian society? Third, what are the different motives responsible for Palestinian female suicide bombings, and are these motives any different than their male counterparts? In addressing these questions the thesis identifies some inaccurate stereotyping of the motives of Palestinian female suicide bombers which can potentially mislead policy makers in formulating effective counter-measures and make efforts of combating this threat an intricate task.; Although published books and articles are the basis of this research, information gleaned from the internet and the social media (i.e., video, YouTube, Facebook, etc.) were instrumental. Holy scriptures - primarily the Qur'an and the Hadith (a collection of Prophet Muhammad's sayings and teachings) are also used as primary sources. For consistency purposes, all the Qur'anic citations were taken from Yusuf Ali's English translation of the Holy Qur'an; and all the Hadith citations were taken from al-Bukhari's collections. The term 'suicide bombing' is interchangeably used as 'suicide attack,' 'suicide mission,' or 'suicide operation' on purpose to show the different uses of the phrase by different scholars and alike. For lack of valid and objective information, attempted and failed suicide bombings are not included in this research. The thesis's main focus is rather on ten documented and successful female suicide bombings.; Results obtained include: Unlike some sensational generalizations, each female suicide bombing case is exceptional rather than routine. Second, the motives of Palestinian female suicide bombers are generally not different than their male counterparts. Third, unlike the common wisdom, religion bears less weight in Palestinian female suicide bombing. Fourth, like the rest of the Palestinian population, occupation, not religion or personal and gender-specific motives are the primary reasons for Palestinian women to engage in suicide missions. Fifth, using women for suicide operation may be a weapon of choice for groups that employ this tactic; however, the thesis reveals that very little achievements were gained by the organizations in terms of fulfilling their strategic goals. This would only leave us to think that female suicide bombing in Palestinian is more likely a result of an utter desperation than being a weapon of choice.; The thesis concludes by recommending states to formulate policies which are primarily based on addressing the root cause of the problem. As we all know, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the longest; most complicated and protracted conflicts of our time. Palestinian women are, as such, veterans of this long-term conflict resulting in widespread human suffering, mayhem, violence, destroyed economies, weakened political abilities and cultural fragmentation. Thus, a sensible resolution in addressing these problems would have multiple positive outcomes extending well beyond the territories of Israel and Palestine. Now is especially the time while the political landscape of the Arab world is being radically transformed to a degree that has never been seen before.
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