Essay on The Decision to Become a Suicide Bomber

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Although journalist Dexter Filkins has spent years covering the war in Iraq, he still appears unsure as to what exactly motivates a suicide bomber to embrace jihad. Citing a specific example in his book, The Forever War, Filkins poses the question, “The most intriguing part of Ra’ad’s story was unknowable. How did an English-speaking, American-loving, hair-gel-wearing lawyer who’d walked among the bikinis of Santa Monica come to blow himself up in Iraq?” (177). While this particular quandary may appear unknowable to Filkins, the motivation behind suicide bombers’ actions may be more obvious than he thinks. It is no secret that American culture differs immensely from that of the Islamic way of life, as both groups have great difficulty …show more content…
Could it be this bitterness towards American culture that motivates a suicide bomber to fulfill his jihadist destiny? Although Qutb certainly was open about his dislike of America, it seems far more likely that modern jihadists have an ulterior motive that involves America’s foreign policy rather than its culture. An interesting revelation is made concerning jihadist motivation by John Farmer in his book, The Ground Truth. Farmer notes that Osama bin Laden’s initial concerns were focused in the Middle East. The continual involvement by the United States in Middle Eastern affairs is what seems to have put him over the edge. Farmer quotes a specific interview given by bin Laden that clearly outlines the source of his hatred, “America continues to claim that it is upholding the banner of freedom and humanity… while these deeds that they did [the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the imposition of sanctions on Iraq], you would not find that even the most ravenous of animals would descend to” (15-16). Sharing bin Laden’s sentiment is his counterpart Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who actually lived in America at one point. Interestingly, his time spent in America doesn’t seem to be the driving factor behind his feelings. Farmer, quoting the 9/11 Commission, writes, “KSM’s animus toward the United States ‘stemmed not from his experiences there as a student, but rather from his violent

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