Suicide Terrorism
Suicide Terrorism
Suicide terrorism in its modern form made its first appearance in Lebanon in the early 1980s. Over the last quarter century, terrorist attacks perpetrated by suicide bombers have spread to many corners of the world and have become a major threat for both the governments and citizens of numerous countries. Can this devastating phenomenon be attributed to a specific religion or culture? What are the causes and motivations that lead ordinary people to embark upon suicide attacks? How are potential bombers trained for their mission? And is it possible for democratic governments to effectively cope with this challenge?

In this compelling book, Ami Pedazhur investigates the root causes of suicide terrorism and its rapid proliferation in recent years. Drawing on a variety of sources, the book explores the use of human bombs in Lebanon, Israel, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Chechnya, Iraq, and the ostentatious attacks of Al-Qaeda and the global jihad. It is the only book to offer such an in-depth, up-to-date, cross cultural analysis of suicide terrorism in the twenty-first Century.

Show More
Buy Now


Order Exam Copy

For Lecturers Only

More Info
  • December 2005 (hb)
    December 2004 (pb)
  • 240 pages
  • 145 x 222 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $72.75
  • 9780745633824
  • Paperback $30.00
  • 9780745633831
Table of Contents


List of Figures

Chapter 1 What is Suicide Terrorism?

The Symbiosis between Terror and Death

What is Suicide Terrorism?

General Features of Suicide Terrorism in the World

Tactical Features of Suicide Terrorism

Methods of Operation

Targets of Suicide Terrorism

Plan of the Book

Chapter 2 How Can Suicide Terrorism Be Explained?

Strategic-Rational Decision-Making

The Social-Cultural Aspect

Recruitment of the Potential Suicide Bomber

The Organisational Procedure


Chapter 3 Turning to Suicide Terrorism: Hezbollah and the Palestinian Organisations

Founding Fathers of Modern-Day Suicide Terrorism The Hezbollah in Lebanon

Suicide Terrorism A Winning Strategy

Suicide Terrorism as a Tool for Gaining Power in Political Arenas in Lebanon and the Middle East

External or Internal Struggle? Suicide Terrorism in the Palestinian Arena

Suicide Terrorism A Strategy for Advancing the Peace Process?

Suicide Terrorism as a Strategy in the Contemporaneous Struggle against both Israel and the Palestinian Authority

Suicide Terrorism as a Tool in Rivalry among Organisations The Case of the Al-Aqsa Intifada


Chapter 4 Turning to Suicide Terrorism The LTTE and the PKK

Overall Strategy or a Specific Tactic? Suicide Terrorism of the LTTE in Sri Lanka

Suicide Terrorism as a Tool in the Tamil Minority's Struggle for Independence

Suicide Terrorism and the Tamil Political Arena

Factors Leading to the LTTE's Suspension of Suicide Attacks

Suicide Terrorism as a Means of Organisational Survival The PKK in Turkey

Popular Support, Member Morale or Strategic Interest? The PKK's Opting for Suicide Terrorism

The Role of Turkish Policy in Thwarting Further PKK Suicide Actions


Chapter 5 The Transition to Suicide Terrorism: Al-Qaeda and the Network of the Islamic Fundamentalist Groups

The Strategy of Ostentatious Suicide Terrorism The Al-Qaeda Organisation

Suicide Terrorism of the Islamic Fundamentalist Groups


Chapter 6 Who Becomes a Suicide Terrorist?

Preconditions for the Emergence of Suicide TerrorismCommitment as a Motivation for Suicide Attacks

Personal Motivation for Suicide Attacks

Financial Crisis as Motivation

Personal Crisis as Motivation

Revenge as Motivation

An Analysis of the Motivations of Palestinian Suicide Bombers


Chapter 7 The Recruitment and Socialisation of the Suicide Terrorist

The Environmental Setting of Suicide Terrorism





Chapter 8 The Consequences of Suicide Terrorism Afterword

The Effects of Suicide Terrorism

The Response to Suicide Terrorism

Short-Term Offensive Responses

Short-Term Defensive Responses

Long-Term Offensive Responses

Long-Term Defensive Responses


Appendix: Suicide Bombings


About the Author
Ami Pedahzur is an associate professor at the University of Texas, Austin and a senior research fellow at the National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, Israel
Show More


"Ami Pedahzur’s articulate and groundbreaking work not only addresses how terrorism occurs, but also why terrorist groups have chosen suicide terrorism as a tactic throughout the globe ... an outstanding examination of suicide terrorism."
Australian Journal of Political Science

"A noteworthy and essential addition to the body of literature. Pedahzur adds significant, accessible insight into suicide operations that informs strategic, operational, and tactical perspectives."
British Army Review

"Helps us understand the gendered nature of suicide terrorism."
Nicola Pratt, Democratiya

"Suicide Terrorism is among the most authoritative and incisive analyses of this subject available. Ami Pedahzur’s meticulous research and trenchant analysis coupled with his direct experience of suicide terrorism’s corrosive effects on society endow the book with a perspective and gravitas unique in the literature. Suicide Terrorism is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the emergence and growth of this tactic and the best means to counter it."
Bruce Hoffman, US Military Academy, West Point; author of Inside Terrorism

"This is a comprehensive approach to a difficult phenomenon by someone who knows his subject well. Pedhazur writes with the cool clarity of a seasoned social scientist, but with the sensitivity of one who has lived through suicide attacks and can count former students and colleagues among the victims. Comparing cases of Muslim militants associated with Al-Qaeda, Hamas and Hizbollah, with Sri Lankan Tamil separatists, Kurdish nationalists and Japanese kamikaze fighters, he derives a complex analytic framework with cultural, political and socio-psychological dimensions. This book brings our understanding of this increasingly familiar form of terrorism to a new level of sophistication."
Mark Juergensmeyer, author of Terror in the Mind of God: The Global Rise of Religious Violence

"Ami Pedahzur has established himself as one of the most astute observers of terrorist violence in general and suicide terrorism in particular. In this work he answers all the crucial questions concerning the when, why and how of suicide attacks. This is an outstanding book by an outstanding young scholar."
Leonard Weinberg, University of Nevada Reno

"Suicide Terrorism is an exhaustive study and provides incisive analysis of the subject."
Mia Bloom, University of Georgia

Show More