Is there any defence against a suicide bomber?

How can you stop someone who’s determined to die and doesn’t care who’s killed in the process?
Right now, there are 20 odd suspected Taliban militants involved in a commando style assault near Kabul’s presidential palace. And their donning their suicide vests. I can hear one of my colleagues on the phone to witnesses in Kabul – the battle is still on.

Fatal suicide attacks in Kashmir over the weekend, a failed suicide attack in Southern Afghanistan last week not to forget Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s attempt to blow up a plane on Christmas day – there’s no shortage of people wanting to kill themselves.

Are body scanners the answer? More profiling and less political correctness? Or how about a big, fat wall like Israel and Egypt have just agreed to?

British police have reportedly identified children as young as seven being groomed as suicide bombers. That’s why for Thomas Friedman, the solution starts and ends at home. Praising the father of Umar AbdulMutallab for talking to the police about his concerns, Friedman writes
‘Yes, we need to fix our intelligence. Yes, we absolutely must live up to our own ideals, as President Barack Obama is trying to do in banning torture and closing Guantánamo Bay…We can’t let our country become just The United States of Fighting Terrorism and nothing more.’ Would you mind living in an overly cautious society if it meant being protected by such attacks?

Friedman continues;
‘But even if we do all that, no laws or walls we put up will ever be sufficient to protect us unless the Arab and Muslim societies from whence these suicide bombers emerge erect political, religious and moral restraints as well — starting by shaming suicide bombers and naming their actions “murder” not “martyrdom.”….Unless more Muslim parents, spiritual leaders, political leaders — the village — are ready to publicly denounce suicide bombing against innocent civilians — theirs and ours — this behavior will not stop.’

Do you agree with Friedman and this blogger who believes that suicide bombers aren’t just ignorant fanatics? Are we helpless in stopping suicide bombers?


41 Responses to “Is there any defence against a suicide bomber?”

  1. 1 helen
    January 18, 2010 at 11:14

    The most effective way to stop suicide bombing is to demand of the larger moderate Muslim community worldwide that they denounce this practice as heresy. If children as young as seven are being persuaded to think that there is glory in giving up their precious lives in this way, that constitutes child abuse. Surely ,if one believes in a Creator, it is arrogance to assume that mere humans have the wisdom to judge any part of creation and a denial of that Creator to destroy life.
    The media also must start helping the majority Muslim community ,who abhor this behaviour, to get their message across to the wider community . At present they paint a one sided picture,creating unjustified suspcion of all Muslims, and thus creating the very conditions conducive to the radicalisation of some youngsters.
    They must expose the hyppocracy of those such as the leader of Islam4UK who stated that he was entitled to the benefits he claimed from the uk system because they “Came from Allah”. They did not. They came from the hard work of the very people he would seek to harm, and such double standards must be exposed and challenged.
    It is also imperative to start providing free secular (free from ANY religious influence) education to all children, especially in those parts of the world where poverty is endemic, thus providing a wider world view,and opportunities for people to be able to create thriving communities in their own countries.

    • 2 martin
      January 18, 2010 at 12:22

      Excellent comment and critique Helen.Clerics the world over must condemn the actions of these militants and convince their flocks that there is no “place in heaven “for murderers,no matter what they believe.Exposing the hippocrisy and double standards is hard though because one ends up being labelled “racist” and/or “Islamophobic”A convenient slur for the corrupt to use against us.

  2. January 18, 2010 at 11:16

    No.There is no defense.But arrested militants should be made to pay with out the normal procedure of civil law.They should be shot even on suspicion.The crack pots who call themselves as Jihadis will dread to die by heathen (their definition of course) for in their warped minds they will ascend to Heaven by sacrificing(?) their lives.This suggestion shall cause revulsion amongst civil societies.True,desperate times call for desperate measures. .Another advantage is once the proposal is on, normal people will become extra cautious and intimate authorities of the suspicious for fear of themselves being roped in by mistake.Heightened awareness of the people is the key.
    Killers like these vermin, as with kidnappers, thrive on publicity.Let the media report something like’Killers shot,Killers seize.. etc. and leave it at that and coverage must be sketchy during the terrorist activity.Later bare facts may be presented.
    Civilized society must go hammer and tongs after these Religions.sects , come what may.Better to face the enemy straight.One must not bother to distinguish between good followers of a religion and bad followers.Root out the Genus, species will be taken care of.

  3. 4 rakesh kumar
    January 18, 2010 at 11:18

    The cause of Taliban menace can be traced to one point -support to wrong people by different government to achieve there motive. These wrong people will attack you back when they do not need the supporter, to keep there fear alive. 1000 bad people will join hand- there motive is one.But two good people will not join because they have different opinion .

  4. January 18, 2010 at 11:20

    Reasoning beyond the walls of logic,and beyond the umbrellas of analytical description,and even the “syllogism of Uncle Aristotle”,I think there is and would not be any measure,being put in place could ever stop those cowardice bombers that are willing to kill others,and themselves for just a fanatic and childish reason best to their own grave understanding.There can be measures like:increasing the immigrational security level,metal detectors,integrational combionation of weapons,if you like,erecting of huge and strong walls like what some have decided to do,but I do think that,if world leaders are all to come together.Leaders ranging from monks,Gurus,Opinion leaders,Prime-ministers,Presidos,Budhist Fathers,Cardinals,Popes and what have you,to have one and not only ending there,series of several meetings,addressing how best they as leaders can tackle the issue of these numeruos attacks on human lives,bothering on insanity,which will serve as a combination of world super powers.I repeat,no and absolutely,no measure can indeed stem down the control of these numerous attacks which again sort to subverge and perpetuate the destiny of mankind and his environment.I wish the world all the best.Please do call me and let us talk and liase on the interest of the world at large.I do believe in the integrational combination of world forces.

  5. January 18, 2010 at 11:56

    Salaam gang,
    Well, Thomas Friedman is obviously wrong and has made some inaccurate generalisations… Let me speak for my Iraq, down here the vast majority of ordinary Iraqi citizens despise terrorists and suicide bombers and consider them to be murderers and evil criminals who deserve the toughest of punishments… The political, social, and religious establishments down here are in general (with exceptions of course) all strongly and firmly against terrorism and suicide bombers… What’s been happening down here in my Iraq over the past 7 years can very simply be explained like this ”People who are disguised as religious fanatics but their real agenda is purely political”, otherwise how can we explain the current strong and intimate alliance between the former Baathists (who are strictly secular and anti-religion) and Al Qaeda in Iraq (who are Wahabi fanatics) ??? Or how can we explain the fact that large numbers of Iraqi members of Al Qaeda in Iraq organisation who were arrested by the Iraqi authorities turned out to be former Baathists ??? The ongoing conflict down here is mainly (with few exceptions of course) about political gains and power struggle, and religion is being exploited by those people mainly as a cover-up…With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

    January 18, 2010 at 11:59

    Friedmand is a casualty of psychology. What is happening in Afghanistan is a political war and not a terrorist war per se – it is a contested agenda and has no relationship with the likes of waist bomber. The Taliban in my thinking could be sympathetic to Al Qaeda only as far as they are fighting the common enemy and nothing more.
    We need to remind ourselves that everywhere in the entire Muslim world, the word opposition has been replaced with the word terrorist/Al Qaeda which to me is quite preposterous. The incumbents governments in power will continue to deceive the western power to fight their political opposition enemies. There need to be analytical seperaton of these terms before the ceacation of hostilities. It is terror yes! But with a deferent configaration although characteristics may be similar. Such wars may take forever unless what is to be achieved is clear.

  7. January 18, 2010 at 12:06

    Salaam again,
    Of course one has to make the distinction between the shameless and evil terrorist attacks targeting innocent civilians (whether committed by individuals, terrorist groups, governments, armies, ect., ect.,) and the legitimate armed resistance against the occupation military soldiers (in the lands which the international law and the UN resolutions agree to describe as ”illegally occupied”)… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  8. 9 ryan
    January 18, 2010 at 12:08

    yes there is, give them something to live for, seriously a person who sees no good out of his life would rather die be a hero that go on living in what he deems hell, a college prof said to us once, they need to be given seven virgins right now, “one” they wont have time to think about bombing and ‘two’ who would want to lose what they already have right?

    its been said over and over improve the quality of life, and their independence to be a people. there will still be the bitter ones that are just always going to be like that but you cut the supply line, which is a lot of idle young people who have no hope and frankly at times have no alternative. lets stop building new guns and bombs for one year and see how many school, social centers, clinics, and homes we can build for the utter poor.

    politics has never been about functional sense though, its always about history and defending the very reasons and positions that create wars, terrorism and resentment in the first place .

  9. 10 scmehta
    January 18, 2010 at 14:36

    “nip the evil in the bud”; so goes the saying. But, the ‘buds’ are being wrongly motivated and indoctrinated in most of the the ‘madrassas’; In this case, the ‘buds’ are innocent young children who are being taught and tricked by the evil of terrorism, fed and nourished by fundamentalism, fanaticism and extremism, and the real tricksters are the fanatic/radical religious teachers, clerics and the clergy. Draw the inference and you’d know where the evil is, that is nipping the ‘buds’ of innocence.
    If we are to have a peaceful, tolerant and civilized environment globally, we ought to destroy the infrastructure of the evil. For now, the best way to ward off suicide-bombers attacks would be to booby-trap the sensitive areas/spots, supported by top-secret and fool-proof system-surveillance.

  10. 11 gary
    January 18, 2010 at 14:53

    Defense against suicide bombers is very successful depending upon their targets. High value military targets are difficult to attach because of effective defense, while embassies, places of worship, or market places full of women and children, are much easier targets because of their functional openness. It isn’t however just poor defensibility that determine these targets, because maximum impedance of free communication is in fact the desired outcome. The violently reinforced message is, “Don’t participate.” This, as correctly stated by the soon to be Dr. Lubna, strongly suggests the perpetrators are politically motivated instruments of terror, rather than ones of religious fervor. Besides, casual reference to history teaches many wars are fought in its name; but few (or none) are actually about religion. They’ve always been about political power and money.

  11. January 18, 2010 at 15:11

    HI I dont think we are helpless. I think the problem is that noone really cares. It is seen that children are being groomed but who is doing something about it. Children and people are vunerable and not in postions to make a difference but in the know are. My view is that they dont care and are more interested when something has gone too far only then they give their opinion and react. People are aware that things are going on around them but so long as they are not affected they do and say nothing. Peoples have their opinions and thoughts but the people that should and are employed to take an interest dont bother so life moves on in this uncaring world of ours. Many of us have to accept things when they hurt or offend us whether we like it or not. So it is no suprise when something reaches a pinnicle and expodes leaveing devastation in the wake. Government like to intrude into other countries affairs as it suits them but when they find that the country would like them to mind their own business it is then that these officals get shirty and they then cause anger and outrage that has a knockon effect where the innocent suffer the reprisals. So yes we care but what can we do when we are involved with other countries that we dont have a say as individuals and matters are taken out of our hands as it is to the people of other countries also. Some countries like to force their opinions upon other countries and expect them to toe the line as it suits. No one really lives in a free society we are just lead to believe we are. If our government says we are at war we are at war whether we like it or not. So trying to talk things through and out gets us nowhere if the authorities dont and wont lisen. All we all can do where ever we live in the world is get on with our own daily lives and hope and pray that we dont fall victim to what our leaders and governers are up as we put them in place via the job but we are helpless against it if they bundle the countries affairs.

  12. January 18, 2010 at 15:41

    The attack may be a message to the US intending to send 30,000 extra soldiers. If the capital with its high security measures can’t be totally protected, so how can distant areas in Afghnanistan be cleaned of Taliban fighters?

    Maybe the Taliban have the superiority of willing suicide attackers in the face of US military superiority. Neighbouring Pakistan must also be worried if the coordination between Afghan Talibans and Pakistani Talibans intensifies. What matters to them are successful attacks either in Afghanistan or Pakistan.

    One of the worst scenarios is when Taliban militants infiltrate the Afghan army through conscription or drafting.

  13. January 18, 2010 at 15:46

    Lubna hit the nail on the head when she said,it is,”the exploitation of religeon,for political gain.” We only have to look at western history to see that.Popes,prelates,bishops,kings and princes.All went to war for a political gain,dressed up in religeous garb.

    There is little defence against a fanatic.My problem is trying to understand how someone gets talked into sending themselves,and others,into oblivion.And at the same time,turning their god into an accomplice to murder.If paradise is full of people like that,I want no part in it.

  14. 15 John in Salem
    January 18, 2010 at 15:58

    I would echo Ryan’s statement. As long as civilized societies are willing to ignore the existence of conditions that produce people with nothing to live for then those people will continue to seek our attention – and bad attention is better than none at all.

    • January 18, 2010 at 16:33

      Hi, there are no fanatics just people with emotions and feelings. These people are easy prey to cold ruthlessness. They truely believe they are bringing hope for another. They are not attention seekers it just looks like they are. The ones that send these victims on their way are.

  15. 17 nora
    January 18, 2010 at 16:50

    Kudos to Lubna and Ryan for nailing the issues. I would add that Friedman give me the creeps when he suggests that shame is the cure. More shame from elders could easily give more power to the fanatics–after all, most of the bombers are teenagers. Give four teenagers guitars and you get a band, give them bombs and you have destruction unit.

    Instead of canned religion and inedible politics, lets try good food, love and common sense adults.

  16. 18 Ronald Almeida
    January 18, 2010 at 17:03

    None whatsoever!

  17. 19 T
    January 18, 2010 at 17:31

    First, there is no 100% protection against this. And second, in this global economic meltdown, what country can afford to spend the money for 24/7 security?

    Where is Obama going to get this? The States are essentially bankrupt and we’re fighting two wars. Does this mean a megamillion dollar domestic contract for Xe? A lot of people who keep saying we need this wouldn’t be able to deal with it if it was put into place.

  18. 20 Francisco from Spain
    January 18, 2010 at 19:18

    It’s extremely difficult to fight against this type of “weapon”, people who are willing to kill themselves in order to killi as many people as possible.. they’ve been brain-washed, that’s the root of this problem, governments should take measures against the extremist islamic leaders who make this people crazy, US army has been trying to kill them but unfortunately when a lider falls, another one comes up

  19. 21 robin rattansingh
    January 18, 2010 at 20:57

    yes ronald i agree totally, this war like many others before it fought by the u.s is financially focused, contracts hear contracts there, the afgan war will like the vietnam war be a total failure.The troops and america’s intial focus is now lost.To comment on the main topic though these extremist have become master minds of suicide bombings if one way is stopped another will be found “KEY” word Innovation.

  20. 22 Muhammad Hussain
    January 18, 2010 at 21:45

    NO, No one can stop!!!

  21. 23 yusra fayyaz
    January 18, 2010 at 21:52

    it is very difficult to fight against the people who are willing to kill them selves in order to kill innocent people actually they have been brain washed they are the people who in the name of ‘jihad’defaming the name of islam so now we can not stop these evil attacks through war but we have to ‘nip the evil from the bud’to save the prestige of muslims and islam may Allah save all of us……….with my love………yours forever……………….yusra fayyaz

  22. 24 HUMA ASIF
    January 18, 2010 at 22:37

    I dont think there can ever be any defence against a suicide bomber,no matter how hard one tries.Suicide bombers are brain-washed people whose minds or stance can never be changed or altered.

  23. 25 Tan Boon Tee
    January 19, 2010 at 04:29

    The most important way lies in providing the young with the right kind of education and a non-extremist value-system. If children at a tender age are being indoctrinated with biased world-view of the fundamentalists, it would be impossible to change their mindsets when reaching adulthood.

    I still believe proper education is the key to the gradual solution of the threat, albeit a tedious, long term and time consuming one.


  24. 26 Uneza
    January 19, 2010 at 06:00

    the only way is to provide the poverty striken ppl with the basic needs of life.
    this is a political and a power struggle, and these killers r being used by all those organizations. to abstain these ppl from killing and destruction, the world needs to provide them witht their basic needs so that the so called Al Qaeda, Taliban can not have such volunteers.
    keep in mind crushing them and punishing the severly will not do any good, it’ll only arouse more anger and desire for revenge among these people.
    understanding and facilitaing their cultural, social, and economic needs is the ONLY solution.

  25. 27 desertrose4pu
    January 19, 2010 at 07:31

    Basically nobody can stop it…every govt should take steps 4 it..it is a time to negotiate with them.As we see that the people who blow himself are not educated person so should educate them.BUT in pakistan,other countries are involved in suicide attack.pakistan”s govt also should take steps 4 stop suicide attacks..Chief of army staff should send army soldiers on afghan and india borders besides northern areas..it is a way to stop afghan and other people who belong to other countries..May be suicide attacks in pakistan stopped……

  26. January 19, 2010 at 07:42

    no can stop suiside bombing.

  27. 29 Tony Baker
    January 19, 2010 at 13:20

    The only defense against the suicide bomber, is to make life for them worth living.

    The question that never seems to be asked is why are they doing it?

    It is also difficult to understand why people find suicide bombing so abhorent, but little comment is made of the use of unmanned drones, tanks and sophisticated weaponary.

    It seems very harsh to condemn poor people because they are unable to wage war in a civilised way because they don’t have access to the same sophisticated weaponry.

    It is not enough to say that they hate Americans or the British or the West in general, we need to understand why that might be the case.

  28. 30 Ibrahim in UK
    January 19, 2010 at 14:58

    The question is always “how do we stop others from doing harm?”. It is never “how do we stop ourselves doing harm to others?”.
    How do you stop a bomb strapped to a person, or a bomb falling from a warplane, or fired from a battleship or helicopter or artillery. Suicide bombing is just another weapon. A means to an end. Western leaders as well as those who lead the suicide bombers, have something in common; they believe that the ends justify the means.

  29. 31 Uneza
    January 19, 2010 at 17:39

    way to go Ibrahim, i couldnt have said it in a better way!

  30. 32 Irene in Texas
    January 19, 2010 at 18:23

    What is the difference between a suicide bomber and any American high school dropout who is easy prey to any army recruiter? Only a matter of degree. One has a high likelihood of throwing his life away and killing innocent people for corporate interests, the other is definitely throwing his life away and killing innocent people for religious reasons.

  31. 33 TomK in Mpls
    January 19, 2010 at 19:56

    From a tactical point of view, you can not hope to stop all of them. At best, you can reduce the number of successes on high value targets with a layered defense and compartmentalization. The Secret Service ( US Presidential body guard organization ) has long made it known, short of keeping the president isolated, it is virtually impossible to stop a determined and disciplined individual with a knife or small handgun.

  32. 34 viola
    January 19, 2010 at 20:30

    You can start the process of stopping them by refusing to admire them. They choose to give their lives for an ideology. Stop admiring that choice. Stop being stooges for that ideology. Proponents of that ideology want to be on top and it’s suicide bomber stooges and their admirers that allow that agenda to go ahead.

    Let into your consciousness the idea that all life is sacred, all the earth is sacred, the universe is sacred and no ideology that launches suicide bombers expresses understanding of that concept.

    Don’t let understanding of that concept be diverted by desire to be on top or desire for revenge or greed for worldly goods and pleasures.

    Any Christian who admires the dynamic that produces suicide bombers has no understanding of his own religion that says “No more human sacrifice. Christ’s death removed any need for that forever.” I trust Islam also rejects human sacrifice.

    As human beings, we must all reject human sacrifice.

  33. January 20, 2010 at 02:05

    The long answer:

    Just like there is on real defense against car accidents, plane crashes, earthquakes, hurricanes, murders, rapists, wall street bankers and Tsunamis there is non really against suicide bombers. We can never make the world 100% safe. I am much more likely to die in a car accident than in any of these other things, yet I don’t have to strip naked each time I enter my car… hmmmm

    This is more of a problem for some countries than it is for others, but I still think that even in those countries (perhaps with the exception on Iraq however I have not heard anything in the news recently about the situation there…) people are more likely to die of other causes than suicide bombers.

    To be honest I see little difference between a suicide bomber and someone like Timothy Mchey (you all forgot about him didn’t you), or the Red Brigade in Italy or the IRA in Ireland, they are all the same.

    When every child in the world goes to bed with a full tummy, in a warm bed looked after by loving relatives, has access to clean water, a good education, has good prospects of a job later in life and is treated with the same respect society as everyone else regardless of race, creed or nationality, we will reduce the number of bombers practically to nothing, but even then there will be a few nuts…..

    It is not a fast, easy or sexy fix, but it is one that I think would work better than anything else we have come up with and last for much longer.

    The short answer: Nope

  34. 36 Ronald in Canada
    January 20, 2010 at 06:49

    No amount of money or military might is going to eradicate terrorism, but terrorism can be gradually reduced by redirecting US foreign policy away from the monetary and political objectives of special interest groups and towards solid principles of human rights and international law. Only then can we expect muslim religious leaders to join the fight against extremism.

  35. 37 umer abdul basit
    January 20, 2010 at 11:59

    we should be aware of our surroundings and pointout any irregularity to the security authorities.

  36. 38 Ronald Almeida
    January 20, 2010 at 15:08

    There’s really only one defence against a suicide bomber. To be prepared for suicide oneself. For which one needs just as strong ideals.

  37. 39 Elias
    January 20, 2010 at 17:27

    The best defence is by attacking and arresting every one under susspicion of being a possible suicide bomber. The military and police should be able to carry out searches in every home, businesses and warehouses with sniffer dogs trained to detect explosives so as to pre-empt a suicide bombing attact.

  38. 40 Tamim B
    January 21, 2010 at 07:07

    Well I don’t believe that defeating sucide bombing is not possible at all. There is always solutions to the problems. The government of Afghanistan secuirty forces should review what reasons attaract people toward Taliban, what shortcommings of the government and its international allies create the opprtunity for Taliban to reinforce thier forces from the frustrated cetizens who can no longer tolerate the mistreat by the security forces, civil servants and warloards. Once you win the hearts and minds of the people then finding and tracing the sucide bombers are not diffculte.

    Now adays in Afghanistan, specially in the rural areas even the ordinary villagers get to know a sucide bomber they don’t prefer to inform the government. Why becuase they are frustrated and also afriad of Taliab growing power.

    Wining the hearts and minds of the people is not possible with a commited, honest and stronge leadership.

  39. 41 oyat oneka
    January 22, 2010 at 10:02

    They can be stoped…why not? shoot to kill any suspect
    why care for one who will get you killed because we care too much for the ungreatfull…. with the bombers we can nof afford to be too good for life…

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