The ritual act of self-sacrifice during combat appeared in a large scale at the end of World War II with the Japanese kamikaze bombers. In these attacks, airplanes were used as flying bombs. Later in the war, as Japan became more desperate, this act became formalized and ritualized, as planes were outfitted with explosives specific to the task of a suicide mission. Kamikaze strikes were a weapon of asymmetric war used by the Empire of Japan against United States Navy and Royal Navy aircraft carriers, although the armored flight deck of the Royal Navy carriers diminished Kamikaze effectiveness.
Suicide attacks were used as a military tactic aimed at causing material damage in war, during the Second World War in the Pacific as Allied ships were attacked by Japanese kamikaze pilots who caused maximum damage by flying their explosive-laden aircraft into military targets, not focused on civilian targets. During the Battle for Berlin the Luftwaffe flew Self-sacrifice missions (Selbstopfereinsatz) against Soviet bridges over the River Oder. These total missions were flown by pilots of the Leonidas Squadron under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Heiner Lange.
From 17 April until 20 April 1945, using any aircraft that were available, the Luftwaffe claimed that the squadron destroyed 17 bridges, however the military historian Antony Beevor when writing about the incident thinks that this was exaggerated and that only the railway bridge at Kustrin was definitely destroyed. He comments that thirty-five pilots and aircraft was a high price to pay for such a limited and temporary success. The missions were called off when the Soviet ground forces reached the vicinity of the squadrons airbase at Juterbog.
(Beevor). Suicide bombing is a popular tactic among Palestinian terrorist organizations like Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. Bombers affiliated with these groups often use so-called suicide belts, explosive devices (often including shrapnel) designed to be strapped to the body under clothing. In order to maximize the loss of life, the bombers seek out cafes or city buses crowded with people at rush hour, or less commonly a military target (for example, soldiers waiting for transport at roadside).
By seeking enclosed locations, a successful bomber usually kills a large number of people. In Israel, Palestinian suicide bombers have targeted civilian buses, restaurants, shopping malls, hotels and marketplaces. (Analysis: Palestinian suicide bombings). Palestinian television has aired a number of music videos and announcements that promote eternal reward for children who seek shahada, which Palestinian Media Watch has claimed is Islamic motivation of suicide terrorists.
The Chicago Tribune has documented the concern of Palestinian parents that their children are encouraged to take part in suicide operations. Israeli sources have also alleged that Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Fatah operate Paradise Camps, training children as young as 11 to become suicide bombers. Papes Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (2005) contradicts many widely held beliefs about suicide terrorism.
Based on an analysis of every known case of suicide terrorism from 1980 to 2005 (315 attacks as part of 18 campaigns), he concludes that there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any one of the worlds religions¦ . Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland (p.4).
The taproot of suicide terrorism is nationalism, he argues; it is an extreme strategy for national liberation (pp. 79-80). Papes work examines groups as diverse as the Basque ETA to the Sri Lankan Tamil Tigers. Pape also notably provides further evidence to a growing body of literature that finds that the majority of suicide terrorists do not come from impoverished or uneducated background, but rather have middle class origins and a significant level of education.
In a criticism of Papes link between occupation and suicide terrorism, an article titled Design, Inference, and the Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism (published in The American Political Science Review), authors Scott Ashworth, Joshua D. Clinton, Adam Meirowitz, and Kristopher W. Ramsay from Princeton charged Pape with sampling on the dependent variable by limiting research only to cases in which suicide terror was used.
In a response to the article, Pape asserted that he dealt with these objections sufficiently in his book, and that he had not sampled at all, but rather included the universe of suicide terrorist attacks. (American Political Science Review, 2008).
Feldman, Noah. (29 Oct 2006). Islam, Terror and the Second Nuclear Age Beevor, Antony. (2002). Berlin: The Downfall 1945. Penguin Books. Analysis: Palestinian suicide bombings (May 2008). American Political Science Review. Volume 102, Issue 02, pp 269-273.