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The Making of a Martyr: Chechen Suicide Terrorism

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Beginning in June of 2000 Chechen terrorists have carried out twenty-eight acts of suicide terrorism acts including two mass hostage taking operations combined with suicide terrorism (Beslan and Nord Ost). This paper reports the findings from psychological autopsies (interviews with close family members and friends) of thirty-four (out of 112 total) of these human bombers as well as augmenting them with material from hostage interviews from Beslan and Nord-Ost. The authors analyze the phenomena on the levels of the organization, individual, society and in terms of ideology and compare findings from other arenas also involving suicide terrorism. The main findings are that a lethal mix occurs when individuals in Chechnya are vulnerable to self recruitment into suicide terrorism due to traumatic experiences and feeling a duty to revenge and this vulnerability is combined with exposure to groups that recruit and equip suicide terrorists with both an ideology and the means to explode themselves. The ideology supporting Chechen suicide terrorism is very similar to the global jihadist ideology but remains more nationalist in its goals. It functions for the bombers much like short lived psychological first aid—answering their posttraumatic concerns in a way that shortly leads to their deaths. Unlike the Palestinian case, there is little social support for suicide terrorism in Chechnya.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Grozny State University, Grozny, Chechnya

Publication date: July 1, 2006

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