| It never changes|
|A view to kill|
A suicide bombing is a attack made in which the attacker expects to, and usually does, die: explosives are strapped to the attacker's body or loaded into the attacker's vehicle and detonated in a crowded area, or near a specific target, intended to kill the attacker and others as well. The primary reason for the "suicide" aspect of it is that by strapping a bomb to yourself you can ensure it goes off in the right place at the right time. Secondly, the bomber ensures they escape legal judgment for their crime, but considering that they're willing to die, they may not necessarily fear much judgment or punishment anyway[note 1]. Such tactics are common among terrorist groups who profess a belief system that values the group or an afterlife over life on Earth, often out of perceived desperation. Suicide bombers are commended as heroes and martyrs amongst their own. In some cases, suicide bombers might have been coerced by other members of the organization or even forced into the attacks at gunpoint.
As mentioned, terrorists like to immortalize their own as martyrs, but everything is about marketing. Images of wrinkled, broken old men rotting away in prison will attract far fewer new recruits than images of young, fierce martyrs still full of life; there's a reason Che sold more t-shirts than his buddy Fidel. Convincing the recruit to blow themselves up ensures that the recruit "stays" forever young, sort of. More importantly, the martyr never has a chance to mature and later denounce the very same ideology they were once willing to die for.
They are particularly associated in the public mind with militant Islamist groups at this time, though suicide bombing is not exclusive to Islamist groups. Suicide bombing in fact finds its roots with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a terrorist organization which supports a sovereign socialist Tamil state in the north and east of Sri Lanka. Though it would appear it is predominantly politically motivated, the group has always been heavily ethnically and religiously motivated, much like its contemporary Islamic counterparts. During the waning years of World War II, Japanese soldiers were routinely coerced into suicide missions, including Kamikaze airplane pilots, special submarines of the Kõryu and Kairyū class, boats of the Shinyõ class, the Kaiten human torpedo, and human bombs used against tanks, motivated in part by Zen Buddhist ideas.
Because of the association of suicide bombing with extremist religious groups (or just "dirty foreigners" if you're raised with Western-centric Hollywood values) they have been used to powerful effect in pop culture by turning the tables slightly and portraying the bombers as either Western or for a friendly cause. One episode of British SAS
comedy drama Ultimate Force showed a nationalistic, BNP-like organisation being behind a series of suicide bombings. In the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, the desperate human survivors resorted to suicide bombing Cylons and their collaborators in an allegory of the Iraq war.
- How Boko Haram Uses Female Suicide Bombers To Terrorize Nigeria by Charlotte Alfred (Posted: 02/28/2015 11:26 am EST Updated: 02/28/2015 11:59 am EST) Huffington Post.
- The Pacific War: 1931-1945 by Saburo Ienaga, 1978. Pantheon Asia Library, pp. 183-184. ISBN 0394734963.
- More moral than God: taking responsibility for religious violence, Charlene Burns, pp 20-21
- Mark Selden, Alvin Y. So War and State Terrorism: The United States, Japan, and the Asia-Pacific in the Long Twentieth Century, p 102
- At least, not the Death Penalty alone. The person may not fear being dead, but even in civilized societies the months-long judicial process can be emotional torture, and even a "clean" execution such as lethal injections are much more drawn out than the near-instantaneous albeit gory death of a bombing. The bigger issue is that the person doesn't get to decide for themselves when they die, and that lack of control itself can be quite devastating and is part of the punishment, which is why prisons prevent Death Row inmates from committing suicide. Furthermore, to a person that's eager to jump into the arms of their 72 virgins, being given a life sentence and having to wait around for 50 years with plenty of time to reflect on what they've done would be far more torturous than an execution