Pakistan News Service

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The Making and Unmaking of a Suicide Bomber

04 May, 2010

By Anwaar Hussain

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The Making


The high priests of Taliban follow a rigid curriculum in brainwashing young men to become suicide bombers. After all, replacing an individual’s intrinsic love of life with death worship, propelling him on a path that ultimately ends up with him in a suicide jacket ready to become a bloody statistic, is not really an easy task.

Here is how it’s done.

The indoctrination lectures proceed from the general to specific. Throughout these lectures, the teachers convince the young recruits, of whom there is no dearth in the impoverished region they come from, that their religion is the most superior in the universe. That theirs is the only true religion with all the rest being false or erroneous. And that the adherents of those other religions are actually an impediment in the total spread of the one true religion. These initial lectures are given with a fiery rhetoric, laced with suitable quotes from the holy book and traditions.

Next, through daily teachings of hour’s long sessions, it is instilled in the recruits’ minds that the path they have chosen i.e. the propagation of this one true religion and the subjugation of all the rest, is essentially struggling in the cause of God. That this struggle (fight, jihad, sacrifice), though difficult, is ordained by God. They are constantly bombarded by relevant verses. They are told that heavens and its untold pleasures is the reward for those who die while fighting in the cause of God.

This first indoctrination step, acting as a foundation for what is to come, is easy really. The students having been born into their religion are already convinced of everything that is told to them. The lessons only come to them as reinforcements to what they already believed. Yet the fierier the rhetoric, the better is the impact on the young minds.

Soon afterwards they are introduced to the implement that will launch them on that one-way journey to the heavens—the suicide jacket.

Starting from the trigger mechanism to its contents and effects, with painstaking thoroughness, the children are taught about a suicide jacket. They are taught that it usually consists of several pockets filled with plates or sticks of explosives. That the explosive is surrounded by material for fragmentation effects. That the resultant shrapnel is responsible for most of the bomb’s lethality i.e. about 90% of all casualties caused by an exploding suicide jacket. That a “loaded” jacket may weigh between 5 to 20 kilograms, with 60-40 ratio of explosive to shrapnel material and may be easily hidden under loose flowing garments. That for excellent shrapnel effects, any small metal pieces could be used but the best are ball bearing, nails, screws, nuts and metal wire. That the most dangerous and widely used shrapnel are ball bearing that are 3 to 7 millimeters in diameter.

In the evenings further indoctrination classes are held. In a sweet lilting voice the teacher explains to the children that modernity and secular culture of the West are abominable sins. That the import of Western culture is leading the faithful away from God. That the unbelief of the West is so grave a sin that it merits death whenever it becomes a hurdle to the spread of the one true religion. That God has humiliated the recruit’s nation only because his brethren have strayed from the path of God. And that is why He has made the infidel, sin-loving people masters of the entire planet. Why else would God allow the ‘Jew loving Americans’ to be present in the Holy land?

By the end of these lectures, the recruit is usually filled with a feeling of utter humiliation and blinding rage.  A consuming hatred for infidels and their local lackeys (no distinction is made between the two) comes as a natural accompaniment of course.

At night the children are made to sleep cuddling their suicide jackets to get used to a garment they will be wearing till the gates of heaven. From their onwards, of course, it will be silken robes till eternity. They dream of that through the night.

So goes the cycle of lectures and practical drills for months. On the last day of the training, they are taken to a special hall. Painted on the walls of which are beautiful images of lush green vistas, dotted with fruit laden trees, interspersed with streams of milk and honey. In attendance in the images are lovely dove-eyed females that are beaming inviting smiles at the onlookers. Here the recruits are told that their training is over and they now have to wait for the calling—a proposition almost unbearable for some of the impatient ones. Two last instructions are given;

1. Not to feel guilty for the victims. The suicide bomber is carrying them to the heavens with him. They will in fact be waiting at the gates of heaven to greet him with garlands.

2. To look down while pulling the handle on the suicide jacket. This will ensure that their faces are blown in to a million little pieces. That not only guarantees that the infidels cannot track down their identities to this training institution, others’ chances of ascension to heavens are also preserved.

The Unmaking?

To decide whether an unmaking of a suicide bomber is really possible in the short term, is easy really. All we have to do is ask a few questions of ourselves. Done honestly, this exercise will throw up the answer by itself. These are;

Is a suicide bomber just a madcap or a coward? Is he not a child of faultless faith only carrying out his duty to his beliefs to the very end? It’s just that he is extreme in his faith. Does he not think that he is acting rationally within the framework of his religious beliefs? And if we all kneeled to his brand of divinity, will he stop killing us? And what are the guarantees that after him, no other group will arise that wants to kill us “within the framework of their religious beliefs”?

Can some of the leading problems in trouble hotspots of the world i.e. the Palestine, Kashmir or the Darfur region of Sudan, to name just three, not be solved in a jiffy if the protagonists in these disputes convert into in to the religion of the opponent? That is to say that all the Jews of Israel and Christians of Darfur converted en mass into Islam and the Muslims of Kashmir into Hinduism—or vice versa. What is left to fight over?  Did God first make us to be born into different religions and then gave us more reasons to kill each other than to love? Is that what it is?

Is a suicide bomber, an extremist in truth, not a weed that only grows in a garden of the faithful sustained by the ‘holy’ water of faith? After all, he can never take life form in societies whose maintenance is done on a diet of reason, logic, evidence and rationality. No one has ever heard of an extremely reasonable person killing others in the name of reason. In other words, while the rest of us may take refuge in the fact that perhaps 99% of us are just moderates in faith, is this ‘99% moderates’ in faith not essentially the environ for a suicide bomber to germinate in?

And what is religious moderation any way? Will religious moderation allow us to think that our rival belief systems are equally true, or even moderately true? Can we then make a moderate move from one religion to another and not be labeled as apostates and killed? Can a moderately religious person think that stoning to death (a Jewish practice originally) is a barbaric punishment or that there is no place for such a punishment in a religion and escape being branded as non-believer by the rest? Or would a moderate think that the punishment may be given sometimes only to erring adults but the stones be of ‘moderate’ i.e. medium size? What religious moderation?

Is not the only reason why anyone is “moderate” in matters of faith these days is that he has absorbed some of the progress of the last two thousand years of human thought in philosophy, science, politics, jurisprudence, etc., just to name a few? Is it not that religious moderation originates in the fact that today even the most illiterate person among us simply knows more about his surroundings than anyone did two to three thousand years ago?

Is it not that that religious moderation does not allow us anything very critical to be said about religious extremism? Yes, moderates do not want to kill anyone in the name of God, but do they not want us to keep repeating basically the same mantra that the extremist does?

These questions, I am afraid, have to be asked, however terrible their implication. The moment these are answered honestly, and the answers contemplated upon with continued honesty, the unmaking of the suicide bomber begins.

Till then—Bon voyage!

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