Thursday, April 20, 2006

Murder-Suicide, Islamic Terror and Women

On Jan. 14th of 2004, this 22-year-old Palestinian woman, Reem al-Riyashi, strapped several pounds of explosives and nails to her body and exploaded herself at an Israeli security checkpoint in the Gaza Strip, killing 4 Israelis and injuring a dozen others, including several Palestinians.

I had mentioned this in an earlier post about suicide bombers. I'm mentioning it again, and looking at this particular woman's case a little closer, because women suicide bombers seem to be a growing trend; and because it's likely we are going to see more such bombers, and I want to better understand what is happening.

First a few more particulars about this case. From Mona Charen's article:

... Her funeral was a gala affair attended by thousands. She was hailed as a heroine and honored for a particular distinction: Reem al-Riyashi was the first Palestinian mother to commit murder-suicide for Allah. She left behind a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. In her farewell videotaped message, al-Riyashi smiled as she proclaimed that she "always wanted to be the first woman to carry out a martyr attack, where parts of my body can fly all over. That is the only wish I can ask G-d for." Her act was sponsored jointly by Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyr's Brigade, and her husband, a member of Hamas, drove her to the checkpoint...

... Americans have difficulty understanding how people can be driven to such lunacy. Liberals, in particular, are inclined to blame poverty for most of the hatred and violence in the world. During the Cold War, when communist movements were gaining ground in the Third World, liberals reflexively blamed poverty. They underestimated the power of ideas.

Al-Riyashi was not poor and, before her marriage, not particularly religious. She came from a prosperous family and lived comfortably with her husband and two children. There had been some sort of quarrel among her family before the attack, and rumors have circulated that she was actually moved to murder-suicide because she had committed adultery. But these rumors must be placed alongside the undeniable trend in the region. Women are beginning to sign on for jihad in significant numbers, and radical Islamists are deciding that while women may not show their faces in public, they may explode their bodies in order to kill.

Women in other Muslim nations are also succumbing. In Pakistan, mothers of "martyrs" are popular speakers. In Chechnya, a women's group called Black Widows is responsible for more than 165 murders by suicide. In March, an Arabic newspaper in London reported that Al Qaeda is setting up training camps just for women jihadis...

(bold emphasis mine) You can read the whole article HERE.

Like the suicide bombers in the 9-11 plane attacks, Al-Riyashi was not poor. You would think that a woman with small children would have some incentive to live. What would make a woman do what she did? What were the particular circumstances, and how much of the choice she made was... hers?

I see this case, and then in another article, I read yet more about suicide bombers, in a talk given by Haim Harari, a theoretical physicist. Some excerpts:

...The events of the last few years have amplified four issues, which have always existed, but have never been as rampant as in the present upheaval in the region. These are the four main pillars of the current World Conflict, or perhaps we should already refer to it as "the undeclared World War III." I have no better name for the present situation. A few more years may pass before everybody acknowledges that it is a World War, but we are already well into it.

The first element is the suicide murder...

He then goes on a bit in detail about how and why suicide bombers are used, the psycological warfare, the media attention... It's worth reading, but I'm going to skip ahead a bit...

...What is behind the suicide murders? Money, power and cold-blooded murderous incitement, nothing else. It has nothing to do with true fanatic religious beliefs. No Moslem preacher has ever blown himself up. No son of an Arab politician or religious leader has ever blown himself. No relative of anyone influential has done it. Wouldn't you expect some of the religious leaders to do it themselves, or to talk their sons into doing it, if this is truly a supreme act of religious fervor? Aren't they interested in the benefits of going to Heaven? Instead, they send outcast women, naive children, retarded people and young incited hotheads. They promise them the delights, mostly sexual, of the next world, and pay their families handsomely after the supreme act is performed and enough innocent people are dead.

Suicide murders also have nothing to do with poverty and despair. The poorest region in the world, by far, is Africa. It never happens there. There are numerous desperate people in the world, in different cultures, countries and continents. Desperation does not provide anyone with explosives, reconnaissance and transportation. There was certainly more despair in Saddam's Iraq then in Paul Bremmer's Iraq, and no one exploded himself. A suicide murder is simply a horrible, vicious weapon of cruel, inhuman, cynical, well-funded terrorists, with no regard to human life, including the life of their fellow countrymen, but with very high regard to their own affluent well-being and their hunger for power.

The only way to fight this new "popular" weapon is identical to the only way in which you fight organized crime or pirates on the high seas: the offensive way. Like in the case of organized crime, it is crucial that the forces on the offensive be united and it is crucial to reach the top of the crime pyramid. You cannot eliminate organized crime by arresting the little drug dealer in the street corner. You must go after the head of the "Family."

If part of the public supports it, others tolerate it, many are afraid of it and some try to explain it away by poverty or by a miserable childhood, organized crime will thrive and so will terrorism. The United States understands this now, after September 11. Russia is beginning to understand it. Turkey understands it well. I am very much afraid that most of Europe still does not understand it. Unfortunately, it seems that Europe will understand it only after suicide murders will arrive in Europe in a big way.

In my humble opinion, this will definitely happen. The Spanish trains and the Istanbul bombings are only the beginning. The unity of the Civilized World in fighting this horror is absolutely indispensable. Until Europe wakes up, this unity will not be achieved...

(bold emphasis mine) The entire talk, which is lengthy but worth reading, is HERE.

Was her suicide attack also an "honor killing"?

Salmon Rushdie once said that in the Muslim world, there is no concept of original sin, and also no salvation; all that is left is honor, and that it is underestimated how many Islamists consciously or unconsciously attempt to restore lost honor. Was this attack also an honor-killing? Women in Muslim societys are often told by men what to do. A western woman coerced into that situation might have surrendered to the Isralies and saved her life; a Muslim woman may have felt she had no choice. Aparently al-Riyashi had one of those Hamas "handler's" watching her too, to make sure she didn't change her mind:

According to Palestinian security services, the couple had been meticulously prepared for their mission. The day before, they were seen with Sami Abu Assi, al-Riyashi’s “handler” from Izzedine al-Qassam, Hamas’s military wing.

Souce: The Sunday Times - World. And to make things more complicated, in another report, it's said that the man who recruited al-Riyashi for the mission was also her lover:

...IDF sources said that the investigation has already revealed that Al-Riyashi's husband, an activist in the HAMAS organization, not only knew about his wife's plans in advance, but even encouraged her to carry out the homicide attack. And that the person who recruited Rheim to carry out the homicide attack and equipped her with the explosive belt was none other than the lover with whom she cheated on her husband. The Sunday Times (London) reported that the husband drove his wife to Erez Crossing...

The report also goes into some detail as to why this could be considered as an "honor killing":

...Sources said Riyashi was forced into such a terrible act because she had brought shame on her family by cheating on her husband. So-called honor killings are common among the more conservative elements of Arab societies. In the event of rape, adultery, or other serious indiscretion, the woman's male relatives will kill her to restore the family honor. Some jails in Jordan are full of women, who having committed no crime, hiding from the probability of being killed for a slight, real or imagined, to the family honor.

In the present situation becoming a suicide bomber allows family honor to be restored and supplies recruits for politically and psychologically effective actions.

Zeyad Awad, 27, her husband, is a HAMAS member who is said to have encouraged her in the mission. There were reports of them arguing bitterly in the weeks before Jan 14, when she was dispatched to the Erez checkpoint.

Al-Riyashi was the daughter of an established middle-class merchant family in Gaza. Her father is the owner of a large automobile battery factory selling mainly to Israel. Her family did not approve of what she did, and blame her husband for her death. Her husband's family also did not approve.

There were also other palestinians who disapproved of al-Riyashi's actions:

...Um Husam, a 32-year-old Palestinian mother of four, slammed Rheim al-Riyashi's deed, saying, "Islam does not order us to die and leave our children. Allah doesn't take us to paradise if we kill ourselves and leave our children without anyone to take care of them."

Hanan Ashrawi, a well-known Palestinian spokesman, had this to say, "The anger among ordinary Palestinians at the death of a mother and a second son (referring to another suicide bombing, a second in one family) could help turn public opinion against the bombings," Ashrawi added that "the attacks brought the question closer to home. Some people don't want to see their children do these things."

Arab society promotes solidarity and a consensus rather than freedom of speech; a few brave individuals have courageously spoken up against utilizing children and women in genocide attacks. They run the risk of being branded collaborators."

(bold emphasis mine) I worry that the objectors only object to the fact that she was a woman, or a mother, not to the bombing itself.

You can read the entire report HERE.

There is a mindset in the middle east that is not compatible with the modern world. There are also many Muslims who have been educated in the west, who want change and peaceful co-existance with the modern world, who understand that the Islamic world must change, but they are faced with Islamic thugs who would crush any dissent and resist change.

I know who's side I'm on. Stop the death cult. Stop the madness.

For she so loved her children that she blew herself to smithereens?

"When the Arabs love their children more than they hate Israelis/Jews, there will be peace in the Middle East."

- Golda Meir


Related link: The Muslim Woman

No comments: