Tuesday, June 30, 2015

30-Jun-15: We need to be calling them what they are: human bombs

Aftermath of today's suicide bomb [Image Source]
People died today following a blast on a Japanese bullet train. This is how one major news outlet is reporting it:
Two people were feared dead and two others seriously injured after a man apparently set himself on fire aboard a moving shinkansen bullet train in Japan on Tuesday (Jun 30)... The Yomiuri Shimbun daily said a blast was heard from a toilet stall... Media reported that the driver of the train found the still-burning body of a man after the emergency stop. Kanagawa police have confirmed that the man who set himself on fire has died. The train - a super-fast Nozomi bullet train - was travelling from Tokyo towards Osaka, reportedly with around 1,000 passengers on board, when the fire broke out near Odawara, southwest of Tokyo.
A blast, a suicide, and very bad outcomes for innocent people. This person who decided to end his life on the Japanese train is a suicide bomber in the accurate sense of that mostly-abused and misused term.

Aftermath of a human bomb attack, 2001 [Image Source]
The death of the human bomb is always incidental to the principal goal
of the human bomb attack - which is murder.
As for the many, many acts of jihadist homicide perpetrated by people too-often-described as suicide bombers, those are something entirely different.

Whatever the intentions of those who do them, who engineer them, who plan them and who encourage them, lethal attacks in the nature of 9/11, 7/7, 11-M, the massacre by a Saudi inside a Kuwaiti mosque this past Friday, are never about suicide, and never were. Acts of murder is what they are about, and what they are.

The intention of those acts and of the people who do them is to kill. Often, the person doing the killing is completely indifferent to the personal outcome for himself or herself, for reasons that are worth understanding but come down to this: the killing is the reason; the death of the killer is an incidental outcome about which the perpetrators (and those who facilitated the killing by sending the killer on his or her way) have no particular concern.

This has significance. The term "suicide bomber" is used frequently in the mainstream media - almost always inaccurately and usually misleadingly - when what they are in reality describing is a human bomb, and a human bomb attack.

To the extent suicide is perceived as connoting (to whatever degree) something selfless, and for that reason possibly even something noble to an extent, we ought to forcefully reject its use to describe highly motivated killers. They are bombs.

Civilized societies that are aware a bomb is heading towards them have ways of defending themselves and dealing with the threat.

What we call them matters.

1 comment:

Johannes Fritz said...

In german they are usually called "suicide-assassin" or more literally "self-murdering assassin" ("Selbstmordattentäter").