The Attractions to Suicide Missions: Toward an Understanding of September

Ed Gallagher, Fordham University

Immediately after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., on September 11, 2001, common talk on television and the streets explained the hijacking suicide bombers as "crazy" and "insane." This paper utilizes Jack Katz's phenomenological criminology and draws on contemporary sociology of religion in order to make sense of the September 11 attacks and asks the question, "How and why is one morally and sensually attracted to carrying out a suicide mission?" Looking at suicide missions and other terrorist activites from the inside, while noting the lack of information in news media coverage, different conclusions regarding how to prevent and combat religiously inspired terrorism are reached from those persued thus far by the U.S. agenices. More specifically, the paper argues that the role of religious institutions must be expanded, political avenues for conflict resolution should be pursued, and military responses may create more terror.

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Updated 05/20/2006