Driven to Death: Psychological and Social Aspects of Suicide Terrorism / Edition 1

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Overview


Suicide attacks are the definitive form of terrorism. More than any other terrorist tactic, they convey the ruthless willingness of present day terrorists to kill themselves for killing others. Since September 11, 2001 the number of suicide attacks around the world has risen dramatically, causing on average far more fatalities per attack than other forms of terrorism.

What drives a person to kill himself for killing others, in the name of a political or religious cause? This book is the first to report a series of studies in which failed suicide bombers and organizers of suicide attacks were subjected to systematic clinical psychological interviews and tests and were compared to non-suicide terrorists. This direct psychological examination enabled a first-hand assessment of the personality characteristics and motivation of suicide bombers. Additional interviews conducted by seasoned area specialists provided a comprehensive picture of the ways by which the suicide bombers were recruited, prepared and dispatched to their planned death, as well as how they felt and behaved along this road. This information was supplemented by data derived from interviews with the families of suicide bombers who died carrying out their attacks.

The psychological makeup of suicide terrorists is put into context in other chapters of the book, so as to provide an inclusive understanding of this phenomenon, which takes into account public atmosphere and the ways in which terrorist groups influence the suicide candidates. The book examines the characteristics of suicide terrorists in light of the most influential theories of suicide and offers a critical and innovative analysis of current explanations of suicide terrorism.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"With Driven to Death, Ariel Merari, who has studied terrorism for more than thirty years, offers a crucial advance in our understanding of the causal mechanisms behind suicide missions thanks to groundbreaking research on a sample of incarcerated Palestinian would-be suicide bombers... In this sense, overall the book is successful in providing a more adequate articulation of our view of the phenomenon. It forms a very important basis for new empirical research on (suicide) terrorism, which can be successful only if it is inspired by a genuine multidisciplinary perspective." -- European Journal of Social Sciences

"In 'Driven to Death,' Ariel Merari brings together insights accumulated over a more-than-40-year career as one of the world's top academic experts on terrorism and its suicide variety. Overall, Mr. Merari's "Driven to Death" is highly recommended as an insightful treatment of suicide terrorism and the factors that drive it." -- Joshua Sinai, The Washington Times

"No one has studied suicide terrorists longer than psychologist Ariel Merari, who has had the advantage of working in Israel during three decades in which suicide terrorism has been all too common. It is impossible to summarize the rich evidence and insight in this book... Every chapter puts the reader in touch with the perspective of an author with unmatched experience in studying suicide terrorism... there can be no doubt that future research on suicide terrorism will build on this book." -- Clark McCauley and Sophia Moskalenko, Terrorism and Political Violence

"The author, a clinical psychologist, is one of the world's preeminent experts on suicide terrorism, and a long-time adviser to Israeli governments on these issues. In this important book, the author discusses the psychological, cultural and political factors that drive individuals to intentionally kill themselves in order to kill others on behalf of their political or religious cause. In the case of Palestinian suicide bombers, the author's findings are based on empirical data gathered by a team of Israeli researchers (including Dr. Anat Berko), who interviewed Palestinian prisoners who had 'failed' to carry out their suicide attacks. The result was a first-hand assessment of the personality characteristics and motivation of such suicide bombers." -- Joshua Sinai's Top 150 Books on Terrorism and Counter-terrorism article in Perspectives on Terrorism

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195181029
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 6/4/2010
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Prof. Ariel Merari has studied terrorism and political violence for more than 30 years. He has been a faculty member of Tel Aviv University's Department of psychology, established the terrorism research program at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, a visiting professor at Berkeley and Harvard, and a Senior Fellow at the Kennedy School's International Security Program. He has published widely on terrorism and was interviewed by all major television networks.

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Table of Contents

1 Introduction 3

2 The Sepectrum of Suicide for an Ideological Cause 13

3 Demographic Characteristics of Suicide Bombers: A Global View 61

4 Palestinian Suicide Bombers in the Eyes of Their Familes 83

5 A Controlled Study of Would-Be Suicides 103

6 Palestinian Organizers of Suicide Attacks: Psychological Characteristics and Decision Making 147

7 Public Atmosphere 173

8 Suicide Terrorism in the Light of Suicide Theory 199

9 Current Explanations of Suicide Terrorism 225

10 Conclusion: An Integrative View of Suicide Terrorism 261

References 281

Appendix 1 Palestinaian Population's Support for, or Opposition to, Armed Operations and Suicide Attacks 295

Index 305

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