A recent Pentagon briefing paper titled, "Motivations of Muslim Suicide Bombers," points to the Koran as the source of the motivation of Islamist bombers, according to an article today in WorldNetDaily.com. This runs quite contrary to the usual U.S. government approach, which insists on seeing suicide terrorists as heretics who follow a perverted form of Islam. A White House report released just this month, for example, the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism," asserts that "The terrorists distort the idea of jihad into a call for violence and murder against those they regard as apostates or unbelievers."
The Pentagon study suggests that intelligence analysts think otherwise, concluding not just that Muslim suicide bombers are usually students of the Koran motivated by its commands, but that they acting, by their lights, rationally. Here is a key passage from the WorldNetDaily.com account:
In Islam, it is not how one lives one's life that guarantees spiritual salvation, but how one dies, according to the briefings. There are great advantages to becoming a martyr. Dying while fighting the infidels in the cause of Allah reserves a special place and honor in Paradise. And it earns special favor with Allah. "Suicide in defense of Islam is permitted, and the Islamic suicide bomber is, in the main, a rational actor," concludes a recent Pentagon briefing paper titled, "Motivations of Muslim Suicide Bombers."
"His actions provide a win-win scenario for himself, his family, his faith and his God," the document explains. "The bomber secures salvation and the pleasures of Paradise. He earns a degree of financial security and a place for his family in Paradise. He defends his faith and takes his place in a long line of martyrs to be memorialized as a valorous fighter. And finally, because of the manner of his death, he is assured that he will find favor with Allah," the briefing adds. "Against these considerations, the selfless sacrifice by the individual Muslim to destroy Islam's enemies becomes a suitable, feasible and acceptable course of action."
The briefing – produced by a little-known Pentagon intelligence unit called the Counterintelligence Field Activity, or CIFA – cites a number of passages from the Quran dealing with jihad, or "holy" warfare, martyrdom and Paradise, where "beautiful mansions" and "maidens" await martyr heroes. In preparation for attacks, suicide terrorists typically recite passages from six surahs, or chapters, of the Quran: Baqura (Surah 2), Al Imran (3), Anfal (8), Tawba (9), Rahman (55) and Asr (103).
CIFA staffs hundreds of investigators and analysts to help coordinate Pentagon security efforts at U.S. military installations at home and abroad.
Comment: There is nothing new here (see David Bukay, The Religious Foundations of Suicide Bombings, Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2006 for a good, in-depth analysis) but that a government agency articulates this understanding amounts to a breakthrough. (September 27, 2006)