Homicide Bombers

Terrorists will continue to use what works. Their past behavior dictates that in homicide bombings, IEDs and VBIEDs are their death devices of choice, but they will modify target preferences based on susceptibleness.

My partner and I were sitting in our local coffee shop taking a breather between calls shortly after the newly formed U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security unveiled their color coded Thread Advisory System to the public. I recall a woman walking up to us to ask, "What does it mean to you when the colors change from Orange to Red?" Cynically I responded, "Lady, that means we drink two cups of coffee instead of one." With a perplexed look on her face she walked away.

I often think back to that moment and wonder why I made such a remark. Was it the typical veteran street cop response - sarcastic but to the point? Was I disgusted with how the feds create something but always fail to tell their partners in policing what they were doing or what we should have been doing? Maybe I was just on the job to long. It was probably all of the above. That particular day, there had been a suicide bomber terror alert for the nationwide transit system that accounted for the threat elevation. Regardless of the security increase in posture, we, like every other uniform cop around, were not doing anything other than the ordinary. Why? We were never trained in anti-terrorism and that was the bad news. Worse than that, it was 2005 - a full 4 years after 9/11. Shockingly, nearly 8 years later some of you reading this (if not most of you) will learn about homicide bombers for the first time. Read on...


The prospect of one killing themselves for what they passionately believe in is nothing new; arguably thousands of years old. However, detonating high explosives delivered to a target via the human body is something relatively new in the chapters of history. Notably the Japanese Kamikazes, during the later stages of WW2, flying their bomb laden aircraft into U.S. warships operating in the Pacific Theater is an early identifiable example. The kamikaze attacks served as a demarcation point in warfare where warriors were now willing to sacrifice their lives by using their bodies as the transport mechanism for a bombing attack.

In her research on suicide bombings, Rebecca Clark, an international relations expert, noted the wide spread use of suicide bombers by numerous terrorists groups. According to Clark, there were 312 attacks that killed 5,354 people in 17 different countries around the globe between 2000 and 2003. This is significant, because these figures do not reflect the high volume use of such a tactic that became prominent during Operation Iraqi Freedom and subsequent military operations thereafter. Interestingly, the U.S. during this same time period suffered 4 suicide attacks totaling 3,002 victims, which was the highest lethality rate of any country and singularly due to 9/11. The point here is that this kind of urban warfare tactic is highly effective, deadly, and the U.S. is not immune from it.


Suicide Bomber or Homicide Bomber which one is it? It depends which side you are on. If you are a supporter of terrorism then the bomber is knowingly committing an act of suicide as the ultimate exclamation point in the furtherance of a political statement. If you value human life, and do not support terrorism then the bomber is known as a homicide bomber. Both cannot be used synonymously. Stripping the bomber of the suicide label also shifts the attention off who they are, what they have done and most importantly why they did it. Remember, terrorists are media hounds. They will do anything to make it to the top story. The full attention of the world should always focus on the victims. By doing this we honor them by remembering their lives and clandestinely take away the strategic initiative being utilized by terrorists, which is placing mass murder of the innocents on our television screens.


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