Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Willing to Die: Palestinian suicide bombers

The Emergence of Female Suicide Militants

Even though most suicide terrorists have been men, Palestinian women are increasingly participating in suicide attacks. Between 2001 and 2003, six Palestinian women successfully carried out deadly suicide attacks. Women have also been participating on a strategic level, planning and facilitating a large number of attacks. It is predicted that the numbers of women engaging in such terrorist activities will increase significantly. 

Raiyshi, female suicide bomber
Raiyshi, female suicide bomber
Women seem to have several advantages over men when it comes to carrying out a suicide attack. Women are usually considered advocates of nonviolence and are thus less likely to be suspected of engaging in terrorist activities. Moreover, they are more effective at persuading male border guards who decide which people can pass into the protected Israeli military zones. Women can also carry more explosives on their person by carrying them around their waist, which can give the appearance of being pregnant. Also, male border guards are less likely to submit Muslim women to rigorous body searches. Thus, women are generally more likely to evade suspicion or detection compared to men. Because of this, they can pose an even greater danger.  

Female suicide terrorists have been found not to fit societal norms. According to an article by Yoni Fighel, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Female Homicide Bombers,   these women have either been academically successful and from privileged families or on the lowest end of the socio-economic scale with little or no education or job. They also tended to be unmarried, overtly confident, determined, rebellious and outspoken, characteristics that are often deemed as unusual or unacceptable in their society.

Like their male counterparts, female suicide bombers are motivated by anger, hate and revenge directed at Israelis. Lina Jun stated The Madness of Martyrdom that girls are indoctrinated from a young age to dislike Israelis and to become martyrs. She stated that instead of dolls for gifts, all they want are guns and tanks. In fact, many families actually encourage aggressive attitudes towards the Israelis. Thus, it is no wonder that some of the girls may grow up wanting to be suicide terrorists.

Those that actually have become martyrs, have been idealized and are held up as role models for young girls. In Kevin Toolisarticle, Why Women Turn to Suicide Bombing, a Palestinian teacher was quoted as saying that on the Palestinian street female suicide bombings are immensely popular. He further stated that, these girls are our rockets. Its OK for our girls to fight the Jews.  It is a view shared by many Palestinian extremists.

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