IS SUICIDE BOMBING A NEW KIND OF MENTAL DISORDER? |
by Dr. Tilak S. Fernando from London
Who would have imagined in their wildest dream that one-day Britain might be under suicide bomb threats? However, as far back as on 18th November 2002, Britain became under a renewed suicide bomb threat linked to Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda network, which released a recorded message (by Osama Bin Laden) quoting Britain as one of his 'main future terrorist targets'. This brought much concern to the Intelligent Chiefs, Senior Police Officers and leading Government officials in Britain. The nation was suddenly placed on amber to red alert.
Immediately as a means of tackling the kamikaze killers snipers were deployed on roof tops on buildings overlooking all strategic targets as 'London faced a unique threat from terrorists'. A senior Scotland Yard detective quoted at that time: "An Al Qaeda linked terror attack in the UK is a case of WHEN and not IF". A range of threats that was to be expected, from three main extremist groups such as those with strong ties with Al Qaeda, Fanatics with looser links to Bin Laden's terror network and Lone-Wolf terrorists with no association to any group, included biological and chemical attacks, bombs armed with dirty or contaminated nuclear products, suicide attacks, conventional bombs, hostage-taking and hi-jacking. Details of the new threat also included a poison gas attack on the London Subway network. However, the Police and the Government dismissed such reports stating that there was no evidence of passengers being under imminent threat from a terrorist attack with cyanide or sarin nerve gas bombs.
As far back as the year 2002, several Al Qaeda suspects were reported to be at large in Britain. On 8 November 2004, a member of the suspected Al Qaeda gang, Rabah Kadre, was arrested in London accused of possessing fake passports and other documents for use to plan acts of terrorism. On 18 November 2004 he was remanded with two other men under the Terrorism Act for four weeks after appearing at Bow Magistrates Court.
The Western democracies always showed a Nelsonian eye all along to suicide bombing and infested terrorist activities in the third world until the menace appeared on their doorstep. They were first shaken from their slumber only after the Al Qaeda attacked the Twin Towers in New York on September 11, 2001, which left a traumatic memory throughout the world. The first major suicide mission which attacked the USA killed 233 airline passengers, 33 crew members and some 3000 people on the ground.
Despite Osama Bin Laden being the main culprit behind the masterminded brutal attack on the Twin Towers, George W. Bush ordered American troops to attack Iraq and Saddham Hussain with a vengeance. And when Britain became partners to attack Iraq against the will or approval of the United Nations, Al Quaida threatened Britain for supporting America and vowed that Britain would pay her price for ' killing thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians'. Many in the Muslim world and free thinkers still believe it was a terrible mistake on America's foreign policy , supported by Britain when there were no signs of Weapons of Mass Destruction to be found in Iraq, the very cause they put forward as The cause to topple Sadam Hussain's regime.
The British Cabinet was divided on the war issue and two senior ministers quit their jobs as a means of protest. However Tony Blair desperately argued for it and defended his actions all along, and he still argues, after suicide bombers attacked London, and wants to know why terrorists in Iraq kill their own Muslim brethren on a daily basis even after the country has been 'DEMOCRATISED' ! Sceptics say the crux of the matter is the very presence of foreign invasion still in the country and they target those Iraqi victims as traitors working and helping the Americans. They demand all foreign troops to be pulled back to their respective countries and leave them alone to mind their own business without further interference and killing in the country.
Today, suicide bombing has become a ' simple tool' in the hands of international terrorists. The danger is that it is increasingly turning out to be a new concept or a lethal weapon among certain sections of people who seem to have a conflictual struggle of national and religious dimension. Hizbu'llah Group in Lebanon killed 241 US marines in October 1983 based on a proclamation from Iran that Muslims were being oppressed in their own land by the perceived satanic forces of the USA and Israel! In the context of Israeli-Palestinian conflict suicide bombing started as a strategy from 1994. The Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka have been using suicide bombers against the Sinhalese for over two decades and their motives have not been essentially religious but nationalistic. The occasional use of 'suicide' bombing has also been part of Sikh nationalism in India and Kurdish nationalism in Turkey.
After three years of speculation, on 7 July 2005, finally the suicide bombers struck London too, taking the British intelligence and the Administration by surprise, killing 57 innocent commuters and causing a colossal financial damage to the hub of International business centre. Fortnight later the second attack to blow up the city from four different destinations in the London Underground was foiled thanks to some unforeseen force from above. The British public, all the political parties in Britain working in unison, as always been faced with a national crisis, and the demonstrated skills of the Metropolitan police in London and in Birmingham four suspects have now being named, traced, and exposed as Muslim fanatics from Somalia, and finally arrested. The irony is that some of these criminals have entered the country as refugees and have been suckers on the national assistance, yet their deranged minds have driven them to kill the very own taxpayers who were supporting them and the country which accepted and helped them!
On the first suicide attack on 7 July, it was a different kettle of fish, for, the crime was committed by Muslim youths from the North of England who were brought up in a British society by middle class Asian families and who were intelligent, intellectual and even had university education. They faced no imminent hardship or threat about their future in a multi-ethnic and multicultural society in England, yet an unanswered question still hangs in the air as to what motivated them to take their own young lives by blowing themselves up so violently with suicide bombs, and in doing so trying to kill their own fellow citizens of their ' home' country?
Is suicide bombing, therefore, a new kind of mental disorder in the 21 century? Eminent psychiatrists and psychologists say it cannot be pin pointed to a mental disorder but conventional teaching on suicide indicates that the vast majority of those who calculatingly kill themselves are suffering at the time from some form of mental disorder, mostly depressive illness, schizophrenia, personality disorder etc. However, the presence of mental disorder in itself has been ruled out as being a sufficient basis for suicide because according to the experts 'some who kill themselves may not be mentally disordered at all'.
Should the term 'terrorism' and 'Suicide' or the 'Self - Sacrifice' be associated with violence and could it be differentiated between terrorists and freedom fighters in terms of psychiatry? In the absence of any universally agreed definition of the term ' terrorism', one person's terrorist may be another's freedom fighter.
According to the prevalent data on the history of terrorism, suicide or self-sacrifice associated with terrorist violence is not a new phenomenon. In the 19th century firearms and knives were involved in such operations. Terrorists in some cases have committed suicide, Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka swallow a cyanide pill to kill themselves rather than being apprehended or tried.
Three years ago when terrorism tried to creep into a super model British democracy British media paused the question as to how the British were going to cope and face such a situation? Daily Express newspaper, in its editorial under the caption ' We must act fast to tackle the terrorist in our midst' stated that " with warnings about an impending Al Queda attack growing in intensity, we must confront the uncomfortable truth that Britain has become a haven for Muslim fundamentalists who wish to destroy Western Society. While the overwhelming majority of Muslims are decent, peace-loving citizens, a handful of callus fanatics present a real danger to all of us'. 'More must be done to prevent such undesirables from slipping into the country. Police and intelligence organisations must use our tough anti-terror laws to arrest or to deport those suspected of involvement in crime. Now, more than ever, we must be alert to the danger that lurks among us."
Now it is too late to ponder over such prophesies that had befallen on deaf ears of the British authorities but most importantly they have to face the hard facts that the terrorists have ultimately been able to germinate the parasitic seed of suicide bombing inside the super model democracy of Britain too.
After the London bomb explosions the British bobby who was regarded as a gentle example of a police force who did not carry weapons, except his short batten, has now been forced to transform into a powerful armed soldiers, at times wearing balaclava masks to storm any suspected buildings during terrorist hunts and with a licence to shoot in the head to kill.
According to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair the few arrests done so far cannot be regarded as the 'be and end of it all', and has warned that terrorists may strike again in London. Despite an innocent Brazilian shot dead accidentally eight times in the head in front of shocked commuters inside a Tube Train by a plain clothed armed policeman, Metropolitan Commissioner Ian Blair confirmed police were going to pursuing a ? shoot- to- kill policy- in -order - to protect policy, and reiterated that ? somebody else could be shot even while police try to ensure that does not happen again.
With the proposed new legislation to combat terrorism and the British Prime Minister's assertion to compile a comprehensive data-base incorporating names of all known terrorists and their networks in the world, every nation would like to see British put their words into action and protect their democratic way of life especially at a historic moment when the IRA has pronounced disbanding weapons and entering the democratic process after three decades of terrorist activities against the British.
Simultaneously when Tony Blair vows to take drastic and irreversible action to annihilate terrorists from all four comers of the earth, it would be prudent to remind him once more to focus his attention on the LTTE, the terrorist group in Sri Lanka who are well known for their suicide bombing tactics and are still operating from UK networks. Regarded as the grandfather of suicide bombing, the LTTE have blown up the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi along with many political leaders in Sri Lanka. British and Americans have banned them as a ruthless terrorist organisation, along with a host of other countries in the world. Under such circumstances it would become one of Tony Blair's prime obligations, duties and responsibilities to have a clear vision and deal with the LTTE also simultaneously and effectively, if Mr. Blair really means business when he has pronounced on world television to annihilate all terrorist networks from all over the world.