Riz Khan
Suicide bombers
What motivates a person to sacrifice their own life in order to kill others?
Last Modified: 01 May 2010 12:15 GMT

How do you stop someone who is willing to sacrifice their own life in order to kill others?

The motivation behind suicide attacks has been the subject of endless speculation by security experts and the mainstream media.

Attackers are often described as radical, disenfranchised, poor and uneducated. In the West, they are almost exclusively associated with Islam.

Once seen as the domain of men, female attackers are gaining greater notoriety following campaigns in Iraq and Moscow.


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The recent subway bombings by the so-called Black Widows, wives of Chechen rebels killed by Russian forces, has renewed interest in what motivates this type of attack - especially in the case of women.

On Thursday's Riz Khan we ask: What motivates a suicide bomber - and how can such a campaign be stopped?

Robert Pape, the author of Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, and Farhana Ali, a senior fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies on Terrorism (CAST), will join the programme.

They say it is not poverty, ideology, or faith that drives people to become suicide bombers - but occupation.

This episode of the Riz Khan show aired on Thursday, April 29, 2010.

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