I’d like to pose a question to any one reading this and link it to terrorism, maybe illuminating some differences between terrorists and other extremists.  First the question:  How much do you value a human life regardless of age, race, height, sex, etc?  Could you ever strap someone into an outfit like this?

This is certainly a very generic question and one not to be taken lightly as some of those factors play an important role in how I view the worth of a human life.  I know that I value human life very highly compared to many things and I often value an individual’s life over the success of some whole.  Who am I to say who lives and dies even to enact change and reach some utopia?  Now I wonder what terrorists might say.  How do they value the life of a human.

I believe this might be some fundamental difference between some terrorists and the rest of us.  I shared this with my pen pal to see what he thought.  Suicide bombings as a tactic are certainly terroristic in nature and was the first thing that came up when we were discussing this point.  But this tactic isn’t only used in terrorist attacks, there have definitely been many others including most obviously to me the kamikaze fighters during WWII.  My pen pal brought up that the Chechan rebels have predominantly female suicide bombers in their attacks while almost all other groups are mostly male.  The article on suicide bombers on Wikipedia is very informative about suicide attacks and has a lot of really good references.  Check it out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suicide_attack.  One of the most interesting and revealing points from people who commit suicide attacks is that they are predominantly middle class and reasonably well educated as my pen pal pointed out before I got to Wikipedia.

Suicide attacks and bombings, according to the Wikipedia article, says that “the ritualistic communion of the extremist groups to which they belong (“lone wolf” suicide bombers are rare), in addition to their strongly-held beliefs, helps motivate their decision to commit suicide.”  Is this kind of environment fostered in terrorist groups?  Also it is believed that suicide attacks are used when a group is fighting against a significantly larger force and overwhelmingly difficult enemy, which makes sense.  To achieve the most damage then you must exploit the fact that as a human you are the perfect tool to deliver the bomb and that the others will not suspect you because they, hopefully, value your life enough to give you some liberties.

My pen pal and I tried to discuss the link between the value of human life, the usefulness and meaning of suicide attacks and how they relate to terrorists.  I wonder what a terrorist would really say about these tactics, the meaning of life and how much they value everyone as a life when they aren’t on camera or trying to prove anything.  Probably one of the most pressing questions I would have for someone labelled as a “terrorist.”

also related: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1808049,00.html