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Psychology of suicide attacker

by on 17/11/2015

It is time to ask the question, what motivates young human beings in their twenties, that were brought up in France or Belgium to commit such a ultimate act as suicide, while they did have the choice to live a meaningful life as normal citizens in their country. The popular story that they the reward of 77 virgins is their major motif, sounds very naive and improbable. After all we are not speaking about teenager, whose unfulfilled sexual desires can drive them crazy. Often the suicide attacker is a married man with children and even sometime woman, who for sure will not be mystified by virginity.

More serious claims about their motives than the virgin story are the economic and social motives. Many of the Muslim Youth may feel frustrated by the surrounding society and their position towards them. If this would be the reason why they commit these extreme acts, and obviously they have no fear of the consequences their acts will cause to them, i would expect them to become ordinary criminals, who bridge with no problem the law and costumes of their housing countries, that they doesn’t identify with. This would be a perfectly rational act, to achieve the goal of improving their social status and economic achievements within their communities. And in fact many of them do turn to this solution, as the high criminality in the immigrant districts shows us.

But here we have a completely different phenomenon. A young man or woman, sometime even well educated, decides to end his life, as to his view fighting certain evil or injustice, that can’t be even by him defined as an absolute injustice, that endangers his and/or his family’s life or his tribe’s existence. If to compare their situation to that of Jews under the Nazis, whose aim was physical annihilation of all the Jews, i could understand a Jewish suicide bomber who would kill a German Nazi to protect his family or tribe (what unfortunately very rarely happened), but the situation of the Young Muslim in Europe is entirely different. Today no one in European political establishment ever implemented or declared a political view of annihilation  or extermination of Muslims because of them being Muslims. So the suicidal attackers can’t claim, they act out of self-defense, as it could have been against the German Nazis. It is obvious according to the claims published through the web, the intention of the Muslim extremists are aggressive and not defensive. To try to establish a caliphate in Europe, which is a primitive form of imperialism is an obvious aggressive act. If looking to the level of evil that the Muslim “resistance” to the West brings, any apologetic explanation to the Muslim extremism, looking for some injustice caused by the Europeans to the Muslims in the past, like the Crusaders, Colonialism, American Imperialism or Zionism doesn’t makes any sense .

So if the suicide acts of the Muslim extremists are not acts of self-defense, not childish desire to be rewarded by 77 virgins, and are not caused by economic-social frustration, what can be the driving force behind it?

What we can hear from those extremists, when asked what motivates them, they come up with a story,  partly derived from the Quran text and other Islamic texts. So can be the identification with the massage of these text or their interpretation be the real reason behind the acts of the Muslim extremists? This explanation stands also on shaky ground. How could be with such an explanation explained the suicidal acts of the Jihadists in the Muslim countries, many times against the same sect they claim to represent.

To try to come with some explanation, i would like to bring some thought about the subject. There are two different kinds of suicide attackers. The first are the recruited ones. A recruited Muslim suicidal extremists goes through several stages of recruitment. The first stage is the act of recruitment of the potential suicide attacker into ordinary military ranks. This is the stage, where the recruiter comes in the first contact with the future suicide attacker. Then it my be, that the recruiter will have strong inclination acting violently due to his past life experience, or due to his innate aggressive character, which can fulfill him with feeling of heroism, commitment to mission, or probably combination of all these. When the first stage of recruitment was done, the act of suicide becomes a military act, not very often but still used in the past not only by the Muslims. The most famous example is the Japanese kamikaze, but there were many others, like the Tamil suicide bombers for example, who were probably the first since WWII to introduce this tactics.

But even more interesting and less explainable is the self recruiting suicide attacker, and there are examples of this kind of suicide attackers. It is hard to imagine what kind of psychological process brings a perfectly normal human being to go through a process that at the end of the line will bring him to commit suicide, hoping that with his death will be killed as many other fellow human beings as just it is possible. What kind of blind hatred has to feel the suicidal attacker toward other people to be able to act like that, without any social or psychological support. Hardly it can be explained by simple reasoning, like religious faith, faith in Islamic texts and Quran and the specific text out of it, that instructs every Muslim to be intolerant to any other human being except of the fellow Muslim. To try to find all the explanation to the Muslim suicide attackers just on the level of religious faith and its murderous ideology will leave many holes in the understanding of the phenomenon.

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  1. One thought that struck me is that a number of youths commit suicide anyway, and I had a second cousin who did that. Nobody even saw it coming, but presumably the young man must have thought the world was against him, and it was not worth going on. If that happens in a reasonably affluent and educated society with a reasonable social support, think of what a young Muslim from a relatively shocking economic position might think. From there, maybe it is not such a strange step to want to take some of what causes their hatred of society with them.


    • To my opinion, the tendency for suicide comes from short term vision of reality. Those who’s time reference of life is short term memory and future vision, that starts and ends with the very recent events and emotions, a moment of gloomy and depressive state of mind, without faith in positive outcome, can cause an extreme reaction of suicide.


  2. The root of the psychology/problem is inside the Qur’an. Some of the Qur’an is very good, however, hundreds of verses seem, clearly, to prone violence. That violence seems, literally, to go all the way to presenting the killing of many categories of people as orders from God. Killing people of these categories, including “unbelievers”, “pagans”, “idolaters”, homosexuals, “apostates”, etc. insures, say the Hadith, as clearly as possible, a direct access to paradise.

    Thus an entire system of thought in Islam solves all existential angst… by suggesting to kill those categories. However, those categories of people are protected by the United Nation charter (mostly) and certainly the constitutions of all democracies. For direct quotes from the Qur’an, see:…/quran-has-everything-t…/

    Some add disingenuously, why worry about these attacks? Well, Islamist terror is having much more of an economic and social impact than the 200,000 random murders since 9/11.

    Another thing: a NYT article brazenly asserts that Muslims are less well integrated in Europe, and implies that is the cause of their State of violent Islamism. However, most of the six million Muslims in France alone are integrated well enough, and not planning to become jihadists. The ringleader from Belgium, and others in his group, like some of the London attackers, a few years back, were actually from economically very successful families (restaurant owners, etc.)


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