Human Sacrifice and Martyrdom: Suicide Bombings in the United States

          Is killing innocent people a good thing? Most of us have a clear-cut answer to that question: No. For suicide bombers in the United States, the answer is not so simple. This is not because most suicide bombers generally think that their actions are justified. Far from it. An analysis of six of the suicide bombings in United States history shows a shocking discontinuity in the bombers’ motivations. Some were motivated by religious reasons and believed they were acting altruistically in service of their god and religion. Some were not religiously motivated, but still found a way to morally justify their actions. Some appeared to have no clear cause; they knew they were committing a despicable act and had come to terms with it. United States suicide bombings are a complex problem that prohibit any clear-cut explanations, making them a multi layered subject to examine.

            The history of suicide bombing in America is an interesting one characterized by trends and hallmarks dictated by society and culture in the time in which they took place. The first suicide bombing to ever occur in America happened in 1927, much earlier than many might have anticipated. This tragic event caused the deaths of 38 elementary school children, several adults, and injured many others at Bath School in Michigan.[i]The man who planned this elaborate scheme was Andrew Kehoe. Kehoe was a 55-year-old father of 13 who was previously the school board treasurer and in 1926 decided to run for township clerk. Ultimately, he lost and this became his motive for planning and carrying out the bombing. As the first suicide bombing event in American history, it’s important to closely look at the perpetrator and time period as they set a precedent for commonalities among other early events like this. Kehoe was a middle aged, Caucasian, male, educated, and facing financial and personal life issues. Before he destroyed the Bath School and lives with it, he completely burned his family farm and murdered his wife along with their two horses.[ii]

Bath School Disaster
https://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/05/06/bath-township-school-disaster-children/101364436/

            While this can easily be categorized as a tragedy, the motives are not as clear cut. Kehoe is an example of a conventional suicide terrorist; his reasoning for the suicide attack aligns more closely with typically factors and symptoms of people who are suicidal. This type of terrorist may commit this crime for personal reasons, often with a particular trigger. For Kehoe, this trigger may have been his loss in the 1926 election for town clerk, recent tax increases, and a foreclosure on his home. This anger may have been paired with preexisting mental illness or other factors which culminated in the loss of so many lives.[iii]

            But as Dr. Todd Shallat notes, Kehoe’s attack defies any “reductionist simplification.”[iv]By that, Shallat means that while there are particular triggers that are common among suicide bombers, something like the loss of an election or a tax increase would not trigger most people to bomb a schoolhouse. It can be reasonably speculated that a pre-existing mental illness contributed to Kehoe’s violent response to everyday triggers, but it is almost impossible to conclude why those triggers drove Kehoe to respond in the way that he did.

            Because an analysis of Kehoe’s triggers defies a reductionist simplification, so also does an analysis of Kehoe’s ethical motivation. Unlike other suicide bombers, Kehoe was not interested in leaving a note justifying his actions or explaining why he did what he did. Instead, he left a five word note wired to a chicken-coop fence, “Criminals are mad, not born.”[v]Analysts struggled to make sense of what Shallat meant, but one thing is clear. Kehoe had come to terms with the fact that he was a criminal in violation of the law, that his decision was morally wrong, and he did not care. Presumably, the immorality of his actions drove him to commit the bombing since he was angry at his city. The United States’ suicide bomber offers an interesting first ethical case study; it appears that he was driven by a desire to be unethical. This “unethicality” can be seen as a direct manifestation to rebel against the expectations of patriarchs during this time.[vi]Kehoe, a once successful individual, began to fall through the cracks professionally and mentally. He most likely moved to extreme rebelling as a final way to end his cycle of failing to cope with his responsibilities culture so desperately told him he needed to. These main factors that seem to have been crucial players: mental illness and financial issues, are two contributions that will form a trend as we examine other early instances of American suicide bombings.

Following the Bath School bombing, several other suicide bombings can be grouped together to form a period that contrasts with the more recent events. From 1959 to 1962 three other suicide bombings occurred after a 32-year period of absence most likely due to people’s preoccupations with The Great Depression and WWII, however this gap was rudely awakened with these three events taking place so closely together. In 1959, there was another school suicide bombing committed by a father who was angered after the school would not enroll his son due to missing paperwork. This event now known as the Poe School Bombing included the murder of 6 individuals including the bomber and his own son after the perpetrator, Paul Harold Orgeron detonated a bomb in his suitcase in the school yard. Orgeron also had a history of questionable behavior as he assaulted his ex-wife and was a former convict.[vii]The following two bombings both occurred on airplanes:  National Airlines Flight 2511 and Continental Airlines Flight 11, in 1960 and 1962 respectively.  Both of these bombings have almost identical scenarios. Flight 2511 is suspected of being bombed by a man named Julian Frank as his body sustained much more damage compared to the other passengers on the flight. He was also up for suspicions as the day before he took out a $900,000 life insurance policy and his history showed him being under investigation for the misappropriation of almost $600,000. This again conveys the theme of financial pressure being placed on patriarchs predominantly during the 20th century.[viii]

            The ambiguous nature of Flight 2511’s explosion makes the ethical difficult to figure out, but we can make an educated guess. Perhaps he was sacrificing himself for the beneficiary of his life insurance policy, which would allow the twisted but potentially potent ethical explanation that he was sacrificing himself for the good of another. It would just so also be the case that he sacrificed everyone else on the plane, too. We can make guesses at his ethical motivation, but since Frank did not leave a suicide note or give anyone an explanation for his actions that has been reported, the suicide bombing of Flight 2511 might just be an action without a point besides a personal agenda.

            Without knowing the motivation of the perpetrator, it is difficult to determine the type of suicide bombing the attack was. There are four main typologies of suicide attacks: conventional, coerced, escapist, and indirect. As previously mentioned, conventional suicide bombers refer to those who have motives psychologically similar to traditional suicide, like depression, personal crisis, and other similar, often-egoistic, factors. Coerced suicide bombers are compelled to commit suicide by an outside force or power; for instance, an organization threatening an individual that they will face consequences for not fulfilling the suicide bombing mission. Similar to coerced, escapist suicide bombers fear consequences from the enemy and kill themselves in a moment of crisis but would not otherwise commit suicide. Indirect suicide bombers differ from the other typologies in that it is less overt and difficult to detect; indirect suicide bombers engage in dangerous activities that make death look accidental.[ix]

            In the case of Flight 11, two men, Thomas Doty and Geneva Fraley suicide bombed the flight after both bought a combined $325,000 in life insurance policies and named their families the beneficiaries.[x]The ethical nature of this bombing is more clear-cut. While we can only speculate that Frank took out a life insurance policy for the benefit of someone else, Doty and Fraley definitely did that. If it is assumed that Doty and Fraley were in their right minds, then their bombing is the result of an ethical cost/benefit analysis that valued the lives of everyone on that plane less than the $325,000 their families received. This could also be an example of altruistic suicide as the suicide bombers were performing this action for the monetary benefit of their families, regardless of the outcome.[xi]

            All four of these events have all of the same commonalities. The perpetrators were middle aged white males who faced financial motivations and most likely undiagnosed mental illness as well.[xii]This can be speculated through the pasts of the individuals which were often tumultuous. During this time period, mental health was scarcely discussed, and even less frequently among this demographic. The lack of discussion coupled with societal stressors placing the fate of economic wellbeing and legacy on the father of a family may have exacerbated the mental states of these criminals, ultimately leading them to commit these suicide bombings. Psychologists have identified certain characteristics that make one more susceptible to partaking in acts of terrorism or radical actions. These individuals tend to feel upset and marginalized, perceive their government to be ineffective or oppressive, feel victimized, desire to act against perceived injustices, believe violence against the state is moral, sympathetic support system, and psychological rewards for actions as Dr. John Horgan found through interviews conducted with 60 former terrorists.[xiii]

            As we examine the last two of the six bombings of this nature, a shift is evident. Happening some years later from the previous events, these take on new motives and unique features as societal norms and attitudes change. In 2005, the University of Oklahoma Bombing happened. The bomb killed no one except the perpetrator: Joel Henry Hinrichs III a student there. It was never determined if he meant to detonate it when he did or if it was an accident.[xiv]In 2009 another, and the most recent event occurred on Northwest Flight 253. This international flight was en route to Detroit when Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate a personal chemical bomb. Fortunately, the device faltered and the passengers and crew were able to detain him and stop the explosion. Shortly after news of the attempt broke Al Qaeda claimed responsibility.[xv]The mind of an individual that perform suicide bombings, acts for the purposes of martyrdom and the human sacrifice of themselves for their cause, is often different than those that commit suicide or self-destruction on a personal level. While about 90% of people who commit suicide have or show symptoms of a diagnosable mental illness, suicide bombers may not show any signs of being suicidal or mentally ill in that regard. Rather, the suicide bombers see acting for their cause as “altruistic,” rather than “egoistic” as suicide is traditionally considered, and right to promote the interests and ideology of the group they identify with.[xvi]This can be more greatly seen in the case of Flight 253; however, parts are still present in the case of the University of Oklahoma.

            These two instances vary a little more when compared to each other in contrast to the other attacks. Both perpetrators were young college aged men who were well educated. Hinrichs was an engineering student but was also a social outcast who couldn’t relate to his peers and did not have a religious motive compared to the other case. Instead, Hinrichs can be categorized into a new cultural outlook into suicide and depression. In the early 2000s, many young adults began to use social platforms to fetishize and almost value depression.[xvii]Hinrichs used his depression as his motive and this plays into this movement through the glorification of action by these individuals. Although both situations vary as far as motive, they illustrate that the psychological wellness of suicide bombers remains a disputed topic. Violence is something that can be taught, as seen in psychological studies like Albert Bandura’s famous Bobo doll experiment which illustrated the process of observational learning. Though many studies have found a lack of abnormal or suicidal symptoms in suicide bombers, there are additional conditions to consider. Most members of a terrorist organization are unwilling to die for the cause, though they would not openly admit that. Suicide bombers, on the other hand, often volunteer for such a role, even if they have little affiliation with the terrorist organization, indicating possible mental illness or compelling external circumstances. There may be instances of recruiters searching specifically for depressed or disadvantaged individuals to perform these suicide bombings. With this information, suicide bombers may have a psychology more similar to personal suicide than previously documented.[xviii]

             His bombing attempt is an example of how groups, specifically religions, can have such a strong influence on someone’s moral compass. In Abdulmutallab’s case, he was influenced by Islamic jihadism. But to say that he was “influenced” by jihadism is too light of a word; he was taken over by jihadism. A factor in whether an individual or organization will use suicide bombing is cultural resonance as the tactic is positively correlated with collectivism. This may be due to the holistic value of collectivism, which Abdulmutallab may have found within jihadism, because individuals are more accustomed to working toward group goals than people in individualistic societies.[xix]Notably, Abdulmutallab was not raised jihadist. His father condemned his son’s actions after the fact and even tried to alert United States’ intelligence to the fact that his son seemed to be part of a terrorist plot.[xx]As a result, Abdulmutallab’s ethical corruption did not come when he was young and could not be expected to know better. Instead, he was radicalized while in college primarily by the online teachings of Anwar al-Awlaki.[xxi]The fact that he was radicalized by an online source is an interesting ethical study in and of itself, but al-Awlaki’s teachings give both an interesting and profoundly troubling ethical justification for the attempted murder of an entire plane of people.

Underwear with explosive packet worn by Abdulmutallab that he planned to detonate on Flight 253
https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/northwest-airlines-flight-253-bomb-photos-exclusive/story?id=9436297

            President Obama noted in a speech in 2013 that al-Awlaki was an evil because his life goal was to “continuously try to kill people.”[xxii]Al-Awaki did not see it that way. He was a self-described man who aimed at “truth,” which is another way of saying that he aimed to do what was right. He believed that the Quran taught that Muslims should establish the Caliphate now.[xxiii]The Caliphate is a society ruled by Sharia law; a theocracy in which the teachings of the Quran govern are the political and moral framework for the whole society.[xxiv]Since Allah created all things, Allah should also rule all things. Therefore, a key tenet of the Caliphate is that it should be global.[xxv]While most Muslims believe in an establishment of the Caliphate through non-violent means, al-Awlaki’s teachings argued for the establishment of the Caliphate now, through “action.[xxvi]Specifically, violent action. It was a call to establish a global Caliphate regardless of the costs. Therefore, if an action pushes back against the infidels who ruled a certain part of a society and help to establish the Caliphate, it is a good action, even if it is a violent action. In sum, al-Awaki’s ethical justification for violence works syllogistically: it is ethical to establish the Caliphate; violence establishes the Caliphate; therefore, violence is ethical. Abdulmutallab was corrupted by al-Awaki’s teachings to the extent that he told a classmate that it was his “greatest wish for sharia and Islam to be rule of law across the world.”[xxvii]In other words, it was his greatest wish to establish the Caliphate. He was content to sacrifice himself to kill a plane of infidels and bring a physical Caliphate just a little closer to reality. Interestingly, Abdulmutallab’s suicide bombing would be considered an altruistic suicide through sociologist Emile Durkheim’s taxonomy of suicide. He committed this act through the psychological and sociological belief that his death would benefit his cause, jihadism, and society as a whole. Durkheim identified three main types of suicide: egoistic, altruistic, and anomic. Egoistic refers to suicides concerning issues of the individual, anomic refers to suicides following the deconstruction of social order, and altruistic refers to the suicides performed as a duty or necessity to further a collective goal as Abdulmutallab did.[xxviii]

            In both cases above, no one was harmed except the perpetrators themselves but only the latter case was declared an act of terrorism. Since Hinrichs was acting out personally the culture of his suicide was much more an act of anger and resentment that reflected his feelings of being an outsider. act conveys the much more common archetype for what we have seen in recent years manifested in shootings- another type of terrorism that Americans are not as readily willing to categorize as such. Since 9/11 though, Americans’ have defined terrorism in a much narrower scope with the mainstream idea of an extremist coming into view. Political scientists have found that the American civilian struggles to define what terrorism is or what it should be considered to be.[xxix]Flight 253 was considered an attempted terror attack as it had a political statement and was carried out by Al Qaeda, a self-proclaimed terrorist organization. The culture in which these two events take place is muddied. Would Americans have been more upset if the Flight 253 occurred compared to if Hinrichs was successful? It can be argued that the feelings of 9/11 still sting our nation now, and would certainly have much more in 2009, just 8 years after the towers went down. At this time we were more heavily involved in a war in Afghanistan and a suicide bombing of this nature was not only something that felt expected but it was also something almost glorified by media and popular culture in the USA.[xxx]

            Suicide bombers perform this act of human sacrifice and martyrdom for countless reasons. They may tend to be loners, tend to be angry, tend to be motivated by a higher cause, whether that be religious or a personal vendetta. The Bath and Poe school suicide bombings, the University of Oklahoma suicide bombing, and multiple flight suicides bombings or attempts thereof are examples of these influences on an individual which eventually drive them to commit murderous acts. Their attacks are not purely rational decisions because they are motivated, in one way or another, by factors in one’s biological or learned psychology, code of ethics, or cultural upbringing or conditioning. They may be mentally ill or fighting for a cause they believe in. Suicide bombings tend toward particular motives and actions, but it is futile to try to fit every suicide bombing into one category. Doing so would require a huge oversimplification of an issue with complex cultural, psychological, and ethical dimension.

 


[i]Kim, D., J. Kepros, B. Mosher, C. Morrison, C. Parker Lee, R. Opreanu, P. Stevens, S. Moore, and K. Piper. “A Modern Analysis of a Historical Pediatric Disaster: The 1927 Bath School Bombing.” Journal of Surgical Research158, no. 2 (February 31, 2010): 420-21. doi:10.1016/j.jss.2009.11.690.

[ii]Boissoneault, Lorraine. “The 1927 Bombing That Remains America’s Deadliest School Massacre.” Smithsonian.com. May 18, 2017. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/1927-bombing-remains-americas-deadliest-school-massacre-180963355/.

[iii]Lankford, Adam. “A Suicide-Based Typology of Suicide Terrorists: Conventional, Coerced, Escapist and Indirect.” Security Journal27, no. 1 (February 2014): 80-96. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1057/sj.2012.20.

[iv]Shallat, Todd. “Criminals are Made, Not Born.” The Blue Review, 2012. Accessed March 31, 2019.

[v]Ibid.

[vi]Ruggles, Steven. “Patriarchy, Power, and Pay: The Transformation of American Families,
1800 “2015.” Demography52, no. 6 (2015): 1797-823. doi:10.1007/s13524-015-0440-z.

[vii]“Suffer the Children.” Houstonia. March 15, 2013. Accessed April 08, 2019. https://www.houstoniamag.com/articles/2013/3/15/suffer-the-children-march-2013.

[viii]“Bombs Indicated in Two Air Disasters. New Age, January 18, 1960. Accessed March 31, 2019.”

[ix]Lankford, “A Suicide-Based Typology of Suicide Terrorists.” 2014.

[x]Bender, Jonathan. “Fifty years ago this week, Continental Flight 11 fell out of the sky
over Unionville.The Pitch, Kansas City. May 2012. Accessed March 31, 2019.

[xi]Lankford, “A Suicide-Based Typology of Suicide Terrorists.” 2014.

[xii]Ruggles, “Patriarchy, Power, and Pay.” 2015.

[xiii]DeAngelis, Tori,“Expanding Terrorism.” American Psychological Association 40, no. 10(November 2009): 60, https://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/11/terrorism

[xiv]Cross, Phil. “FOX 25 Investigates: Declassified FBI Records Provide New Insight into
2005 OU Bombing.” KOKH. July 13, 2016. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://okcfox.com/news/fox-25-investigates/fox-25-investigates-declassified-fbi-records-provide-new-insight-into-2005-ou-bombing.

[xv]Schmitt, Anahad O’Connor and Eric. “Terror Attempt Seen as Man Tries to Ignite Device
on Jet.” The New York Times. December 25, 2009. Accessed April 09, 2019. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/26/us/26plane.html.

[xvi]Gambetta, Diego,“Making Sense of Suicide Missions,” Oxford University Press (2005) DOI 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199276998.001.0001

[xvii] Cavazos-Rehg, Patricia A., Melissa J. Krauss, and Shaina J. Sowles. “Figure 2f From: Irimia R, Gottschling M (2016) Taxonomic Revision of Rochefortia Sw. (Ehretiaceae, Boraginales). Biodiversity Data Journal 4: E7720. Https://doi.org/10.3897/BDJ.4.e7720.” US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, July 22, 2016. doi:10.3897/bdj.4.e7720.figure2f.

[xviii]Lankford, Adam. 2014. “Precis of the Myth of Martyrdom: What really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences37 (4) (08): 351-62. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0140525X13001581.

[xix]Braun, Robert, and Michael Genkin. “Cultural Resonance and the Diffusion of Suicide Bombings: The Role of Collectivism.” Journal of Conflict Resolution 58, no. 7 (October 2014): 1258–84. doi:10.1177/0022002713498707.

[xx]McDougall, Dan. “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab: one boy’s journey to jihad.” The Sunday
Times, January 3, 2010.

[xxi]Ibid.

[xxii]Shane, Scott. “The Enduring Influence of Anwar al-Awlaki in the Age of the Islamic State.” Combating Terrorism Center Sentinel, vol. 9, no. 7, July 2016. Accessed April 5th, 2019.

[xxiii]Ibid.

[xxiv]Arnold, Thomas W. The Caliphate. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. 1965.

[xxv]Ibid.

[xxvi]Shane, “The Enduring Influence.” 2016.

[xxvii]McDougall, “Abdulmutallab.” 2010.

[xxviii]Robertson, Michael. “Books Reconsidered: Emile Durkheim, Le Suicide.” Australasian
Psychiatry14, no. 4 (December 2006): 365–68. doi:10.1080/j.1440-1665.2006.02305.x.

[xxix]Huff, Connor, and Joshua D. Kertzer. “How the Public Defines Terrorism.” American Journal of Political Science62, no. 1 (2017): 55-71. doi:10.1111/ajps.12329.

[xxx]Muzzatti, Stephen. “Terrorism and Counter-terrorism in Popular Culture in the Post-9/11
Context.” Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Criminology. April 18, 2018. Accessed April 09, 2019.

Juliet Alegria

Emily Ettrich

Matthew Williams

16 Comments

  1. Kristen Lennon

    April 20, 2019 at 3:01 pm

    I think the transition of the motives of suicide bombings in America is very interesting. In this blog post we see the switch from private suicide bombing motives to public political acts of suicide bombing. This definitely has to do with the increase in globalization and also how publicized political acts are in today’s society. This increase in public awareness gives people a platform to use suicide bombings as political statements. In regards to the typologies of suicide attacks I am curious to know how suicide bombings are categorized into those if their differences are seen directly before the death of the individual. Are there psychological signs that can be used to determine this before the event or criminology signs used after the event?

  2. This post has made reconfigure my conceptions of suicide bombers. As an American, I often associated “suicide bomber” as an “evil-doer” of sorts with no reason beyond destruction. The complexity behind suicide bombing motives is far greater than I previously believed. I particularly thought the comment on how typical suicide bombing motives are usually in line with others who are experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts. Perhaps it is important to humanize those committing these crimes to understand the motives and potential causal factors in their lives to lead to these acts. Furthermore, I believe this post did a great job at explaining the more religious based martyrdom of suicide bombing. A line that stood out to me was “Most members of a terrorist organization are unwilling to die for the cause, though they would not openly admit that. Suicide bombers, on the other hand, often volunteer for such a role.” This line highlights the idea that there’s a link between those who chose to commit suicide bombing more than just being converted to a destructive religious ideology or being depressed, something deeper that has yet to be defined. Good job in the post!

  3. I also thought it would have been interesting to see how the media skews/portrays their motives versus how many times they are exaggerated depending on the bomber’s religious beliefs/ethnicity. Do we really know someone that has already killed themselves motive? How accurate are we in determining their motive based on clues they may have left behind? These are some questions/thoughts that came in my head while reading this posting!

    Overall, I loved the way you structured this posting in terms of giving examples of motives that may have justified the suicide bombers’ actions. It was interesting to read about some of the suicide bombings in the US—many of which that I did not know about—and read about the motives behind them. I was particularly intrigued with the extent people go to for money: Thomas and Geneva took out a life insurance policy before they suicide bombed their flight so that their family would benefit.

  4. This post is extremely organized and takes readers through a trip of time as it discusses suicide bombings in recent history. Before reading this post, I had never though of any anterior motives to bombings other than the ones that are highly popularized by social medias. This article has opened my thoughts to new perspectives on the motives of suicide bombers. In particular, many people would not realize the numerous suicide bombings throughout the 20th century nor their relationship between white, middle-aged patriarchs and financial pressures. This post has some parallels with the posts ” Human Sacrifice – The Shang Dynasty” and “Human Sacrifice: Mayans vs Aztecs”. These parallels would be how the second two posts examine human sacrifice in terms of it being accepted by the society at the time. However, this post examines human sacrifice in our modern day society and how it is very different than what was practiced in the past.

  5. I thought this post was set up in a very informative way, highlighting how and possibly why the motivation for suicide bombings have evolved throughout the years. I was interested in how early in time the first suicide bombing took place and I saw a comparison to this example of a suicide bombing within the Bath School and school shootings that have been happening quite often in the past decades. It seems mental illness is a primary source of motivation behind suicide bombings especially in people who are not motivated by a religious group or higher power. It seems like more research into mental illness and diagnosing people with mental illnesses needs to be done in order to possibly prevent these suicide bombings as well as school shootings. It’s interesting to me to think about the extreme allegiance someone would have to a religious group to perform acts of martyrdom such as suicide bombing. It seems like this topic is discussed with a lot of uncertainty as to why someone would kill themselves along with other innocent people for what they deem a “higher cause.” Also, I was interested how in the post they brought up how people who might volunteer for these suicide bombings might be experiencing mental health issue. Overall, I thought this post was very thought-provoking and organized in a way that was cohesive to the entire post.

  6. I think it would be very interesting to psychologically look into why Kehoe, an educated white man in the 1920s, decided to bomb and kill innocent people. Sure he was experiencing financial and personal issues, but how does that justify murdering his wife, two horses, and elementary school children? This can be related to our current-day school shootings usually executed by white men who are educated and live seemingly ordinary lives. Every media source would say that the perpetrator was suffering from mental illness which seems to be enough of a justification for the monstrosities that they executed. Why would they turn to bombing out of all forms to express their angers, frustrations, and other sentiments? It was shocking to learn that Paul Harold Orgeron, out of anger of his son not being accepted into a school, killed his own son in the bombing. I feel like there must have been other reasons that he decided to bomb the school. He must have had prior adversities and problems going on in his life, and his son not being enrolled into the school was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The fact that he assaulted his ex-wife and was a former convict proves that he already had some sort of anger and moral issues. It’s a very difficult topic to comprehend; that someone would go through such drastic and lethal lengths to end their own life because they see no other reason to continue living, but they had to end other innocent lives too. This was a very well written and thought-provoking post and it actually resulted in me doing further research myself, out of curiosity.

  7. I thought this post was extremely enlightening on this sensitive topic. I knew that suicide bombings had happened on our soil but they are not the ones that come to mind when the topic is brought up, maybe showing the cultural values of the United States as well. This is obviously a very touchy topic and the struggle to find reasonable answers to this problem are extremely difficult as we are not able to analyze the mental state of the person who committed the heinous act as they are deceased and all we have left is to look at their past for clues. This just goes to show that mental health and the problems that it creates need to be looked upon more carefully for everyone in our society in order to help them and also better our society as a whole. This group did a great job of analyzing all of the aspects of this topic and the many issues that it creates. They did an amazing job of explaining the topic to the reader and showing a new perspective on this sensitive topic.

  8. Nicole Salazar

    April 24, 2019 at 1:54 am

    This post was very informative and had me quite surprised. I was not aware there were only six suicide bombings in the United States, I think I associated any bombing, like the Boston marathon Bombing, to fall near this category but the post does a great job at clearly defining what suicide bombing is. I was surprised by the vast research that has been conducted on suicide bombings and all the categories of the acts and their perpetrators. I believe recognizing these trends has increased awareness that can be seen a positive and a negative. The positive would be that warning signs could be detected and the suicide bombing could be addressed and handled before a catastrophe. A negative would be the strange fascination of individuals with mental disorders who see these bombings as attractive and would want to receive fame and or use it to prove a point either from financial struggles or religious purposes. I also am totally behind the movement of not naming, therefore giving fame, to perpetrators of these heinous acts, which all the names of the suicide bombers were mentioned in the post. Overall, really great job on the post, I can tell you did a lot of research and it as really well constructed.

  9. I find this post refreshing because it lays the groundwork for examining motives for suicide bombers through examining historical trends and patterns. I think an important thing this post also does is acknowledge the reductionist simplification, where a lot of complex factors are involved with our own actions but for the sake of writing a narrative or to maybe keep things more simple to process we resort to it. This is interesting topic too, because the general perception are that these guys are psycho and got something with them, attributing internally but it could be external factors as well. My only suggestion is perhaps exploring why the flight suicide bombers thought they were being altruistic to their families as beneficiaries, but sacrificed other people. Perhaps a lack of empathy or concern? I would like to see this further explored.

  10. I was extremely surprised to learn that the first suicide bombing took place at an elementary school and was performed by a local, Caucasian, middle class male. This contradicts the typical typology that most modern Americans think suicide bombers hold. I enjoy how the ethical position in analysis of Kehoe and other bombers as it intertwines the psychology aspect of the suicide bombers in justifying their actions. I was similarly surprised to find out that the majority earlier suicide bombers were motivated by monetary gains for their family or others.

    This post was well integrated however, I found it difficult to identify which section focused on the cultural aspect.

    I would suggest to inquire further on the public’s views of suicide bombings and analyzing how the public viewed suicide bombers over time. This being stemmed from the first suicide bombers typology was drastically different from the most recent suicide bomber.

  11. This article does a good job explaining how people why people commit suicide attacks and at explaining the different types of suicide attacks. Before reading this article, I assumed most suicide attacks were motivated by religion or were carried out by someone who is mentally ill, but there are many other reasons that bring people to commit this horrible act. Just recently, there have been suicide bombings in Sri Lanka that were committed by terrorists most likely for religious reasons. The majority of the suicide bombings we hear about today are committed by terrorists, who are part of organizations like ISIS, and are usually not Caucasian. Therefore, I found it very interesting that the first suicide bombing in the United States was committed by a small-town, Caucasian male because this contradicts the stereotype we hold in our society today for suicide bombers.

  12. So, I was also part of a pod within this topic: Human Sacrifice. After writing my own paper on the Shang Dynasty, and reading the post about the Mayans and Aztecs (also within the topic of Human Sacrifice) I can honestly say that this post provided a very different take on human sacrifice. Between my groups post and the Mayan/Aztec post, I found many similarities, almost like they each had a similar basic idea, but in different geological locations and eras. And although there are some similarities in your post, I found it to be a refreshingly unique take, especially because human sacrifices are no longer prevalent in the same way as the other two posts mentioned, whereas suicide bombing is something that has affected the United States recently. Because you chose a topic that related to the time period and geographic location in which the readers currently live in, the post becomes much more interesting, and seems to be of higher importance. It allows us to see that human sacrifice and martyrdom is not something that is a thing of the past, but something that is still an issue even today, and affects people in a closer proximity than we often realize.

  13. A really interesting aspect of this article to me is the comparison of collectivism vs. individualism as cultural backdrops for suicide bombers. Do suicide bombings similar to Abdulmutallab’s case (motivation rising from the benefit of the whole or group) occur in individualistic societies like America? How is this type of bombing viewed in such a society compared to how it would be viewed in a more collective culture? In answering questions like these, it is imperative to keep cultural context in the picture, as stated in “Human Sacrifice: Mayans vs Aztecs” – we, in the future, cannot judge the practices of ancient cultures without viewing them in the cultural context within which they took place.

  14. I was surprised to read that the first suicide bombing was in 1927, for some reason I had the misconception that suicide bombings were more recently made popular because of technological advances. Andrew Kehoe’s motivations do not seem justified to carry out such a horrific tragedy. I agree with the conclusion that there must have been a deeper problem with Kehoe than losing the election. Currently, in the United States, there is a rise in mental health awareness, and because of this, I would say that he needed mental health resources especially because he knew the implications and unethicality of his decisions, but still chose to go through with it. Suicide bombings caused by financial motivations sadden me because it shows the reliance our society has on money and how success is measured by wealth. Discussing the progression of suicide bombings over time was interesting to me and shows how culture impacts people’s mental health and decisions.

  15. I appreciated this posts genuine effort to try and make sense of why suicide bombers do what they do. Rationale and motive are always extremely difficult to explain, but I feel as if this post helped me to get inside the mind of these suicide bombers and how things such as religion and personal turmoil might influence a person to such extreme measures. It is interesting that while each suicide bomber mentioned in the article come from completely different backgrounds, they almost always all experience the same emotions of anger, confusion, and bitterness. I think by understanding and spotting these emotions, some of these attacks could be avoided. However, the lone-wolf nature of suicide bombing makes the problem extremely hard to solve and deeply complex. It never ceases to amaze me what can happen when idealogy, emotion, and willpower mix.

  16. This post did a great job at pulling away from the current stereotype in thought processes about suicide bombings. I truthfully believed that we as a country had far more than just 6 occur on US Soil. The discussion on what defines a suicide bombings was very helpful as well as it honestly made me question how much I have allowed the media to mold my own perception of these occurrences. This was also incorporated in a style that lent no clear signs to what part was related to what portion of the assignment itself. I loved this post in its entirety as it only further added to a deeper dive on modern issues that are relevant to Americans today.

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