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Martyrs: Innocence, Vengeance and Despair in the Middle East

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Martyrs offers compelling and chilling interviews with terrorist trainers, with the families of suicide bombers, fighters and fanatics, and with Muslim scholars offering differing opinions on the legitimacy of violence in Islam. Through the voices of those who plan and those who grieve, Martyrs provides provocative and troubling insights into the zealotry that leads to the targeting of innocents, the endless cycle of revenge, and the despair that besets the Middle East. From Iran to Lebanon and the Palestinian ...
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Overview

Martyrs offers compelling and chilling interviews with terrorist trainers, with the families of suicide bombers, fighters and fanatics, and with Muslim scholars offering differing opinions on the legitimacy of violence in Islam. Through the voices of those who plan and those who grieve, Martyrs provides provocative and troubling insights into the zealotry that leads to the targeting of innocents, the endless cycle of revenge, and the despair that besets the Middle East. From Iran to Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, Joyce Davis reports on the rage that drives tragedies and at the despondency of the mothers of those who die and kill. Unsettling as the perspectives presented here may be, they are crucial to understanding, though not accepting, the fury at and resentment of the US.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The questions veteran journalist Davis tackles in her investigation of suicide attacks are the same gripping and unsettling ones most Americans asked in the days after September 11. "Why would anyone so viciously attack the United States?" she asks. "What would make anyone kill himself and...other people in a brutal fashion? And does Islam really condone that type of holy war and martyrdom?" Martyrdom has been deemed the ultimate Islamic sacrifice since the savage murder of Prophet Mohammad's grandson, Hussein, at Karbala (in modern-day Iran) in the late seventh century-but why is it now more alive than ever? From Iran to Lebanon to the hotbed of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza, Davis (Between Jihad and Salaam: Profiles in Islam) tracks the deep-seated feelings of anger, injustice and despondency fueling this brand of glorified violence, where the body becomes the weapon and the soul is guaranteed a place with "God in Heaven." Her lengthy interviews-with everyone from the family of a female fanatic, to mothers of children martyred both in the crossfire and as suicide bombers, to the masterminds behind these missions-offer great insight into the proud, desperate hearts of the Palestinian people. But her subjects' rhetoric of hatred can be unrelenting, and her failure to frame it or their reading of history in dispassionate perspective lends a certain flabbiness to an otherwise lean and gutsy work. Davis's reporting is impressive in its access and depth, but it can be patchy on analysis. Still, this is a good introduction to an issue of great import, and a reminder that "terrorism, especially that propelled by martyrdom, cannot be stopped without eliminating the motivation for such violence." (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Foreign Affairs
Through interviews with those directly affected by terrorism — relatives of both suicide bombers and their innocent victims — Davis has managed to boil this subject down to its frightening and heartbreaking human dimension. She includes stories of Iranian child soldiers in the brutal Iran-Iraq War and the September 11 hijackers, but most of her coverage is devoted to Palestinian suicide bombers, including two chilling profiles of those who train volunteers for suicide missions. In telling these individual stories, Davis weaves in descriptions of the organizations involved, the diverse views of Muslim scholars on suicide bombings, and the opinions of those deemed to be "terrorism experts." A chapter titled "Can They Be Stopped?" examines various approaches to fighting terrorism. Davis insists that "they" hate "us" because of the specifics of U.S. policy, but notes that "they" are a small minority of Muslims. The implicit conclusion is that both policy changes and a better dialogue with moderate Muslims are needed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312296162
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 5/2/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.46 (w) x 9.80 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Joyce M. Davis is deputy foreign editor at Knight Ridder newspapers.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
1 A Minister's Question: What Have We Done That They Hate Us So? 1
2 The Innocents: Mohammed al Dirrah and Avraham Yitzak Schijveschuurder 27
3 The Child as Soldier-Martyr: Iran's Mohammad Hosein Fahmideh 45
4 The Woman as Soldier-Martyr and Suicide Bomber: Loula Abboud 67
5 Suicide Bombers and September 11: Muhammad Atta and Izzidene al Masri 85
6 The Mothers of Martyrs: Munabrahim Daoud and Um Iyad 121
7 The Trainers: Abu Muhammad and Munir al Makdah 135
8 Can They Be Stopped? 163
9 The Hatred and the Hope 191
Notes 203
Index 209
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2003

    Comprehensive Peace Settlement: Neither Cheap Nor Easy

    Joyce M. Davis courageously offers unvarnished, uncomfortable and, at time, disturbing coverage of Islamic terrorism and its underlying factors (pg. 9). Davis helps her American audience better understand Islamic militants and their rationale in order to develop policies that could lead to the militants¿ ultimate defeat (pg. 22). Terrorism finds a favorable breeding ground in the swamps of cultural deprivation, misery and hopelessness (pg. 26). The rampant human suffering in the Middle East can turn some Muslims into economically, emotionally, and/or spiritually vulnerable targets for terrorist headhunters (16, 104, 119, 131-133, 152-154). Many moderate Muslim scholars consider that suicide bombers who kill and maim the innocent are not justified according to the Qur¿an (pg. 5, 20, 94, 110-111, 141, 202). The concepts of terrorism and martyrdom are not exclusive to Islam and the Middle East (pg. 23-24, 192). At the same time, however, there is widespread understanding of suicide bombers and their actions among many moderate Muslim leaders and citizens across classes in the Middle East (pg. 10, 182, 194, 202). Many Muslims think that the U.S. is to be blamed for blindly supporting Israel and having double standards at their expense. The U.S., they argue, garners international support against Islamic countries like Iraq and Iran at the U.N. while conveniently ignoring U.N. resolutions against Israel (pg. 36-37, 109, 122, 143, 159). Furthermore, many Muslims criticize the U.S for propping up their undemocratic, unaccountable governments both financially and militarily (pg. 5, 12, 90, 165, 169, 192-193). The regimes in control have marginalized their secular opponents and have been unable to eliminate the religious-based opposition groups or the underground militants (pg. 11-12, 165-166, 170). Although Islamic militants are not closer to their goals than they were at the birth of Israel in May 1948, they still cling to the hope that they can achieve them militarily (pg. 14, 43-44, 148). Islamic militants want to make clear to every settler that they have no future in Palestinian territories (pg. 102, 157). Islamic militants remind that Israelis unilaterally withdrew from the South of Lebanon under repetitive attacks by Hezbollah (pg. 70-71, 157). Similarly, the Israeli government is convinced that diplomacy and negotiations lead almost nowhere, and that the military option is the only one to deliver results (pg. 167, 171-172). Some analysts underline that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon¿s tactics have not stopped the violence against Israelis and are actually encouraging terrorism (pg. 167-171). The security fence, also called wall, that Israel is building along or close to the green line is an implicit recognition that the military option alone and Jewish settlements policy in the West Bank and Gaza are to a large extent sub-optimal (pg. 168-169, 172). Many critics say a wall will not keep terrorists out of Israel totally (pg. 172). One knows from personal experience gained over thirteen years ago that walls do not protect against a terrorist attack. Furthermore, the fence could lead some Israelis to grow complacent about their own security as most French did about their Maginot Line before the launch of the blitzkrieg in the West in May 1940. A surprise suicide WMD attack in Israel that some terrorists are rumored to plot could drive the point home very hard (pg. 160). Furthermore, Iran could one day become a nuclear power and step up the pressure on Israel to pull out of the occupied territories (pg. 61-62, 64). Hopefully, a nuclear Verdun will not be necessary before a just peace can be achieved. Terrorism cannot be eradicated without also draining the swamps that feed it (pg. 26). The road map for peace in the Middle East should aim at: 1. Gradual transformation of monarchies and one-party States in the region into respectively constitutional monarchies and Western democracies to av

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