Sunday, July 27, 2008

Despair, frustration and quest for revenge

July 27, 2008

Despair, frustration and quest for revenge

by 'Inad Khairallah

There is an increase in the number of women suicide bombers in Iraq. The US military and Iraqi security forces say Al Qaeda now recruit women who have lost their loved ones in the crackdown waged by US and allied forces in the country. Given that hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died during and after the US-led invasion of their country in March 2003, the recruiters should be finding their task easy.
In an emphatic affirmation of the alarming trend on Monday, four female suicide bombers struck, killing at least 60 and wounding over 250.
What motivates women to undertake suicide missions?
It has been found that almost all of the women suicide bombers had lost their loved ones in the ongoing insurgency and security crackdown launched by the US and allied forces. Some of them lost their entire families and had nothing to look forward to life except perhaps revenge against those whom they consider as being responsible for the disaster that befell them.
Indeed, Al Qaeda is finding the ground fertile to recruit women driven by the quest for revenge in its war against the US military, Iraqi security forces and allied groups.
US and Iraqi officers have been quoted as saying that women without education, or even those who suffer from learning disabilities, are particularly targeted by insurgent leaders.
An American military officer says: "Al Qaeda look for this type of profile, then they train them and indoctrinate them."
"They keep them locked up and tell them over and over again that if they blow themselves up, they will go to paradise," says an Iraqi officer.
Few people are referring to the reality that Iraqi women's willingness to turn themselves as martyrs is yet another manifestation of the aggressive approach adopted by the US and allied forces that has little room for human considerations. More and more women are motivated by poverty, desperation or vengeance against the US-led military and allied forces they blame for the deaths of family members.
They don't need any indoctrination. They are following the natural course of human behaviour when there is nothing left to lose and someone could be seen as directly responsible for creating that situation.
Farhana Ali, an international policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, wrote in November 2005 (
"While conflicts and motivations vary, a woman’s decision to pursue violent action is impacted by personal experiences and outcomes. Coupled with the absence of change to her own local conflict, of which she is a part of, a woman is more apt to volunteer or be recruited for an operation to end her own suffering or that of her people.
"Suicide becomes the preferred tactic when Muslim women perceive they have no other alternative to affect change to their local environment; coupled with a heightened sense of anger, disillusionment, and despair, some women choose suicide as a way to communicate and channel their frustration. This is particularly true for those who believe there are no other social, economic, or political opportunities available to them."

The Iraq experience

We have seen vivid images of how US and allied forces storm Iraqi homes in the middle of the night and search for suspected insurgents as terrified women and children cower in a corner. Males, including teenage boys, are hauled away, detained and tortured with no justifiable reason. In most cases, they are held indefinitely with no legal recourse and no communication with their families. In some cases, they are never heard of, leading the families to believe that they are dead.
Isn't that reason enough for their families to hate the US and allied forces that they see as responsible for such a course of events?
In simple terms, had the US military been humane in its approach to the people of Iraq and treated them with dignity under a respectable code of conduct, then there would not have been a situation where US soldiers and allied forces patrolling the streets of Iraq steer clear of women wearing long dresses.