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Article Released Wed-28th-September-2005 18:22 GMT
Contact: Ruth Institution: Nature Publishing Group
 Terrorism: Suicide attackers spurred by Internet and lack of ties

Would-be suicide bombers are encouraged to carry out their plans because they tend to live in small groups with fervent political opinions, say the authors of a Correspondence in this week's Nature.

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Terrorism: Suicide attackers spurred by Internet and lack of ties (p620)

Would-be suicide bombers are encouraged to carry out their plans because
they tend to live in small groups with fervent political opinions, say the
authors of a Correspondence in this week's Nature. Previous analyses have
tended to assume that such attackers are focused on clear political aims,
such as the emancipation of their native country, but many militants cite
more general reasons for their actions, such as fighting against a perceived
global evil.

Scott Atran and Jessica Stern point to interviews with would-be suicide
bombers and their supporters, and conclude that terrorist inclinations are
fostered in people who feel humiliated, either through their own experiences
or by empathizing with perceived victims of ill-treatment, such as the Abu
Ghraib prisoners frequently depicted in the media.

These drives can overcome rational self-interest and are not consistent with
the dispassionate cost-benefit analyses often attributed to organized
suicide bombers, Atran and Stern argue. Instead these impulses are fostered
through isolation from the host society, perhaps through emigration, which
leads to a situation in which people can be influenced by a small, strongly
ideological social network. The effect is strengthened by access to the
Internet, the authors point out - over the past five years, Islamic 'jihadi'
websites have swelled in number from fewer than 20 to more than 4,000.

Author contact:
Scott Atran (Institut Jean Nicod, Paris, France and University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor, MI, USA)
Tel: +1 734 936 0458, E-mail: satran@umich.edu

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Keywords associated to this article: terrorism, internet
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