Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Bombing Nomenclature

Should people who blow themselves, and others, into smithereens be known as suicide or homicide bombers?

Norm blogs on a New Republic article that examines, among other things, the national origins of such bombers.
[O]f the fighters expressly identified by country of origin, 175 are Saudi, 50 are Syrian, 28 are Iraqi, 15 are Kuwaiti, 13 are Jordanian, and a handful are from other Arab countries, including a few young men who had lived in France, Denmark, and Spain.
They are even less comfortable articulating the fact that the vast majority of victims in suicide bombings are ordinary Iraqis. Take the description of Walid Al Asmar Al Shammari's death: "Walid Al Asmar Al Shammari was martyred in Iraq on 14 June, 2004... His family received condolences in Hail, northern Saudi Arabia, after they got a call from Iraq confirming his death when he carried out an operation with a car bomb. He drove it into a crowded area in central Baghdad last Tuesday. In addition to Al Shammari, the operation killed 16 people, including two Britons, a Frenchman, and an American." The other twelve were Iraqis but were not identified as such, a telling omission.

That omission suggests a critical weakness in the jihadist movement and its recruitment efforts. Imagine how the biography of the "hero" Al Shammari would read if it were juxtaposed with the biographies of the people he killed? What might readers in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and elsewhere in the Arab world make of a companion volume to "The Martyrs" in which each suicide bomber faced his victims, not as statistics in a war against the infidels, but as individuals in their own right?
Some deaths are not counted because to do so would be a mite inconvenient for those in whose cause the people died.

The isolationist, reactionary anti-war argument1 runs thus: "Iraqi deaths at the hands, accidental or otherwise, of coalition forces should be counted". As to Iraqi deaths at the hands of the insurgency, the isolationist reactionary anti-war movement2 remains silent."

1 Is there any other kind?

2 Is there any other kind?

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