(Photocredit: Lorenzo Bonosi’s Photostream)
Suicide bombers from Lebanon, the West Bank, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Chechnya have two things in common: they are Muslim and they live under occupation.
University of Chicago Professor Dr. Robert A. Pape, who has assembled a comprehensive database of every (or nearly every) suicide bombing since 1980, has been the most prominent proponent of the view that it is occupation, not religion, that is the single most important motivating factor for suicide bombers.
As Pape explained at a recent New America Foundation forum,more than 95% of suicide bombers come from countries under occupation.
In today’s New York Times, Pape and his colleagues at the Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism, ask “What Makes Chechen Women So Dangerous?”
The article pieces together a narrative of Chechnya’s recent history that pinpoints the Russian occupation as the proximate reason for Chechen suicide attacks – including Monday’s bombings on the Moscow metro.
Pape and his colleagues conclude that
Still, the picture is clear: Chechen suicide terrorism is strongly motivated by both direct military occupation by Russia and by indirect military occupation by pro-Russia Chechen security forces. Building on the more moderate policies of 2005 to 2007 might not end every attack, but it could well reduce violence to a level both sides can live with.
Because the new wave of Chechen separatists see President Kadyrov as a puppet of the Kremlin, any realistic solution must improve the legitimacy of Chechnya’s core social institutions. An initial step would be holding free and fair elections. Others would include adopting internationally accepted standards of humane conduct among the security forces and equally distributing the region’s oil revenues so that Chechnya’s Muslims benefit from their own resources.
No political solution would resolve every issue. But the subway attacks should make clear to Russia that quelling the rebellion with diplomacy is in its security interests. As long as Chechens feel themselves under occupation — either directly by Russian troops or by their proxies — the cycle of violence will continue wreaking havoc across Russia.
The full article can be read here.
– Ben Katcher