Homicide bombing

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This is called a suicide vest, but I think that undersells all the homicide that goes along with it.
—Cavil, Battlestar Galactica: The Plan

Homicide bombing is a Newspeak term used by Fox News for what is referred to by everyone else, including the US military, as a suicide bombing — a type of terrorist attack in which the attacker detonates explosives attached to their body or vehicle in an attempt to kill others and themselves at the same time, thereby ensuring the success of the detonation and that they escape (mortal) judgement for their crime. It has been used by only a very few terrorist organizations or movements, most notably the Tamil Tigers, PKK, and various factions of Islamist fundamentalist terrorists.

As a perfect example of conservative deceit, Fox News is the only news organisation that took up the Bush White House's request to change the language and use the term "Homicide Bombing". Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer introduced the term, because as Dr. Andrew Cline wrote, "suicide bomber" validated the crime and the bomber's cause.[1] The fact is that the term "homicide bomber" is at best completely redundant. The term "bombing" generally refers to attempts to take human life, and almost every bombing ends up taking human life, so all of them, regardless of intent — suicide bombing, car bombing, or even bombing runs by airplanes on the Good Guys' side — are "homicide bombings". While there have been cases where the bombings are directed against structures rather than people, those bombings are an exception in terrorist attacks. If a terrorist bombing fails to kill anyone, it is almost invariably due to the incompetence of the terrorist rather than any lack of murderous intent. Since the term fails to include any reference to the self-inflicted death of the assailant, which is the defining nature of the act and what sets it apart from other terrorist acts, it is a weak term. It actually manages to describe the crime less accurately than the commonly used term, "suicide bombing". Usage of the term in journalism therefore actually hides the full horror of the crime: that someone is prepared to sacrifice their life for their cause, which is pretty harrowing when you think about it.

Psychiatrist and suicide prevention expert Professor Robert Goldney called for the phrase "homicide bomber" to be used because the phrase "suicide bomber" risks "normalising" suicide and could even lead to increased suicide. Goldney also notes that suicide bombers are quite different in their mental state from most people who attempt or commit suicide.[2]

Timeline of usage (and non-usage)[edit]

11 Apr 2002[edit]

Here's how I put it from the President's point of view. I think what he would say to that, David, is one, he recognizes Israel's right to defend herself. Israel, of course, had been attacked in a series of suicide bombings which are really homicide bombings. I think the name 'suicide bombings' is not an apt description of what Israel faced from these attacks across the border.
—Ari Fleischer[3]

12 Apr 2002[edit]

But the reason I started to use that term is because it's a more accurate description. These are not suicide bombings. These are not people who just kill themselves. These are people who deliberately go to murder others, with no regard to the values of their own life. These are murderers. The President has said that in the Rose Garden. And I think that is just a more accurate description of what these people are doing. It's not suicide, it's murder.
—Ari Fleischer, clarifying his statements of the previous day[4]

21 May 2002[edit]

During a speech to the National Association of District Attorneys, FBI Director Robert Mueller warns that suicide-homicide bombers in the United States itself was "inevitable". On the same day, the New York Times reported that Osama bin Laden was planning an attack as big as 9/11, though the "warnings are said to be vague but disturbing".[5]

25 June 2002[edit]

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's spokesman, Raanan Gissin, welcomed Bush's call for a new Palestinian leadership 'not compromised by terror.' Gissin said, 'When they chose Arafat, they chose a strategy of terror, and they chose to continue sending suicide and homicide bombers to Israel.' [...] Hamas leaders threatened revenge against Israel. 'We emphasize our right to continue the jihad (holy war) and resistance, and to intensify the martyrdom operations,' Hamas said in a statement. 'Martyrdom operations' is the term Hamas uses for homicide bomb attacks.
Fox News[6]

17 Jul 2002[edit]

I offer my deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of those killed and to the wounded in the homicide bomb attack today in Tel Aviv and the attack yesterday in the West Bank. The American people and I condemn these despicable acts of terror.
—George W. Bush[7]

18 Sep 2002[edit]

Well, I've characterized in the past the Middle East as an area in which sometimes there are two steps backward for every step forward. I think the last month has been characterized by several steps forward. Now, unfortunately, today there has been one step backward. There had been a long period of calm in the Middle East, which, unfortunately, was shattered today in this latest suicide bombing, or homicide bombing.
—Ari Fleischer[8]

22 Nov 2002[edit]

Spielman, who was accompanying the troops, said the goal of the mission was 'to change the reality in Bethlehem.' He said since the August pullout, Palestinians have set up a 'terror infrastructure' and prepared homicide bomb attacks. He said the Palestinian Authority had 'failed miserably' in its responsibility to prevent attacks. Lt. Col. Guy Hasson, a senior commander, said troops imposed a curfew and were searching for 30 Palestinians involved in planning the Thursday homicide bombing and other attacks.
—Fox News[9]

30 Apr 2003[edit]

The fact that one of the lead sponsors of violence has been removed from the scene, Saddam Hussein, is an important piece of the prospects for peace in the Middle East, but it's not the only one. Certainly, there are indigenous issues between the Israelis and the Palestinians. There are root causes of violence and historical differences between the Israelis and Palestinians that have to be resolved, that are, indeed, separate and apart from a successful completion of the war. But make no mistake, the fact that Saddam Hussein has been removed from power does remove one source of instability that paid for suicide homicide bombers to cross into Israel and take innocent lives.
—Ari Fleischer[10]

6 Oct 2003[edit]

Terry, I talked to Prime Minister Sharon yesterday. I expressed our nation's condolences at the needless murder of innocent people, by the latest suicider. That murder came on a weekend of a high holy holiday. Secondly, I made it very clear to the Prime Minister, like I have consistently done, that Israel has got a right to defend herself, that Israel must not feel constrained, in terms of defending the homeland. However, I said that it's very important that any action Israel take should avoid escalation and creating higher tensions.
—George W. Bush, in a press conference with President Kibaki of Kenya[11]

7 Oct 2003[edit]

The Prime Minister must defend his country. It's essential. This is a country which recently was attacked by a suicider that killed innocent children and women, people that were celebrating in a restaurant. And he must do what is necessary to protect himself. At the same time, as I said yesterday and will continue to say to Ariel Sharon, avoid escalating violence. Listen, thank you all. Anybody else did not get a question in this vaunted press corps? (Reporter) Red Sox or Yankees? (George Bush) Listen, I'm excited about the playoffs. I tuned in after the State Dinner that was somewhat covered in the press yesterday. (Laughter.) But it was -- you know, it's good for baseball. My team, of course, was eliminated in June. (Laughter.) Thank you.
—George W. Bush[12]

6 Feb 2004[edit]

President Vladimir Putin blamed Chechen separatists, although it was unclear whether the blast was the work of a homicide bomber or someone who merely placed a device on the train as it left the station.
—Fox News, in a report clearly demonstrating that they don't actually understand the etymology of the term "homicide bomber"[13]

9 Jul 2004[edit]

Saddam Hussein had the capacity to make weapons. See, he had the ability to make them. He had the intent. We knew he hated America. We knew he was paying families of suiciders. We knew he tortured his own people, and we knew he had the capability of making weapons. That we do know. They haven't found the stockpiles, but we do know he could make them. And so he was a dangerous man. He was a dangerous man. The world is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. America is safer. [Applause]
—George W. Bush, during an "Ask President Bush" event[14]

23 May 2006[edit]

(George Bush) In a joint address with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel: "(Reporter) The U.S. has the most powerful military in the world, and they have been unable to bring down the violence in any substantial way in several of the provinces. So how can you expect the Iraqis to do that? (George Bush) If one were to measure progress on the number of suiciders, if that's your definition of success, I think it gives -- I think it will -- I think it obscures the steady, incremental march toward democracy we're seeing. In other words, it's very difficult -- you can have the most powerful army of the world -- ask the Israelis what it's like to try to stop suiciders -- it is a difficult task to stop suicide bombers. That's the -- but that's one of the main -- that's the main weapon of the enemy, the capacity to destroy innocent life with a suicider." [15]

28 Feb 2007[edit]

Intelligence reports indicated Taliban terrorists had the ability to set off homicide attacks in the Bagram area even before a bombing that killed 23 people during a visit by Vice President Dick Cheney, a NATO spokesman said Wednesday. Militants have suicide bomb cells in Kabul, just 30 miles south of the large U.S. military base at Bagram, said Col. Tom Collins, the top spokesman for NATO's International Security Assistance Force.
—Fox News[16]

20 Nov 2009[edit]

(Fox News) Proving that they are not ones to let a bad idea go, Fox News is still using the term:

A homicide bomber killed 16 people and wounded at least 23 others Friday in a busy city square in western Afghanistan, while near Kabul a powerful former warlord narrowly escaped an assassination attempt, officials said.[...] In the homicide bombing earlier Friday in western Afghanistan, a bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up about 55 yards from the Farah provincial governor's compound in a crowded square, said Gov. Rohul Amin.
—Fox News, proving that they are not ones to let a bad idea go by continuing to use the term unironically[17][note 1]

See also[edit]


  1. As of late 2013 they continued to use it on air, but no transcripts indicate any usage during 2014. However they used it online in November 2014; see this Faux Fox News article for more information: Homicide bomber kills at least 45 at volleyball tournament in Afghanistan, officials say, Fox News, 23 Nov 2014