Condemning all terrorism

Until the attacks on September 11, 2001 the costliest terrorist attack had been the Provisional IRA attack on the London financial district in 1992. On April 10, 1992 a large truck bomb was detonated in London’s financial district killing three and doing an estimated $1.2 billion in damage.

Using a comment of mine about contributing to the IRA as a springboard for a post condemning all terrorism, Dean writes:

They told me stories about poor Northern Irish schoolchildren who had no shoes and were hungry. They asked me for my support, and I gave them money. Then some years later I learned that most of my money had gone to buy IRA bombs and guns. It was used to kill little children, or the fathers of children who made the mistake of fighting for order.


I hate terrorists. I don’t care which God or version of God they worship. There’s no glory in anything they do. I hate them all.

I agree. There is nothing good about and no justification for terrorism. And I want to return to the point I was attempting to make in my comment: please, please exercise due diligence in your charitable giving. An enormous proportion of the financing of terrorists isn’t from rich bigwigs but from ordinary people donating to causes they believe to be charitable and peaceful.

I condemn Christian terrorism unambiguously. However, I think there’s an important point to be made: Christian suicide terrorism is extremely rare. The PIRA for a time made a practice of something called a “proxy bomb” (I’ve seen the practice waggishly referred to as “assisted suicide terrorism”): a victim was kidnapped and forced to drive a car or truck bomb to its target. The practice was discontinued because IRA supporters found the practice so abhorrent that it eroded support for the organization.

Suicide (or proxy) terrorism continues to be used because it’s effective:

Suicide bombing is a corporate effort: in this respect, the closest historical analogy may be the kamikaze pilots who trained as a cadre to terrorise the American fleet in the Pacific in 1944-45. And suicide appeals to these groups principally because it is a good way to kill large numbers of people. Robert Pape, of the University of Chicago, calculates that between 1980 and 2001 13 people died on average in every suicide attack, whereas just one was killed in other terrorist incidents—excluding September 11th, which would make the death ratio much starker. For those whose aim is maximum destruction, not just maximum publicity, it is the natural choice.

What is necessary to bring an end to the abhorrent tactic of suicide terrorism is for the use of the tactic to cause support for the organizations that foster it to dry up.

1 comment… add one
  • ed in texas Link

    Whether the item under discussion is the Japanese kamikaze (divine wind), or the current suicide bomber (manpack or vehicle carried), the best analogy is is that they are low-tech manifestations of ‘cruise missle’ weaponry, i.e. self guiding, difficult to detect approach, etc. (In intel circles they are frequently refered to as ‘not-so-smart’ bombs.) The key, as always, is not if they are effective, but how can they be defeated.
    The answer appears to be ‘not well’.

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