Yoram Schweitzer - about suicide terrorism and Al-Qaeda
Yoram Schweitzer is a researcher
at the "Jaffee
Center for Strategic Studies" (JCSS) at
Mr. Schweitzer is renowned expert in suicide terrorism, he has been conducting close and private conversations with failed suicide bombers and senders. The project is designed to study the mindset of those individuals who were involved in these attacks and to understand their aims and the strategy of their organizations.
In November 2005 he published the report “Al-Qaida & the Globalization of Suicide Terrorism” (with Sari Goldstein Ferber ). Yoram Schweitzer was interviewed by Andrei Soldatov:
- How many suicide bombers did you talk with?
- I interviewed more than 80 jailed terrorists suicide bombers, senders and regular terrorists in a structured and informed way and talked to way over 100 Palestinian convicted terrorists in unregistered conversation as side talks sometime very long conversations. I put an emphasis on the content and depth of the conversation rather than on the number of the interviewees in order to really get to the bottom of their thinking, feelings and motivations.
- What do you think how does the psychological state of terrorists change after arrest?
- It depends
on the time they spent in jail. The longer they stayed in jail the more they
were pragmatized their views and understanding the
Israeli side . That doesn't say they became supporters
- As I understood from your report, working in the pairs is important part of suicide bombers.
- The issue of working in pairs or even in larger contingents is part of the suicde drill. The pairs could assist the perpetrators to stick to their mission and be emboldened by each other. Sometime there is a stronger partner that influence and motivate the other who may be less determined.
It is working both for Al Qaida and the Palestinians.
In Al-Qaeda we see the groups, which may consist a large quantity of people, but they work by pairs in order to support each other. The model of working in pairs was directly influenced by Bin Laden’s own working style. Similarly, in every al-Qaeda attack, and particularly in the preparations for September 11, an emphasis was placed on finding a partner for every participant. The organization uses this technique in order to immunize operatives against second thoughts about suicide. The increase in operatives’ sense of self-worth during the experience of working in pairs, when both partners accept the idea and support each other, eases the individuals’ isolation stemming from the idea itself and the need to keep it secret. It also allows supervision and continued communication in the event that contact with one partner is severed. Working in pairs likewise affords an operational advantage. As example, in the case of the attack on the American embassy in Kenya Awhali, one of the suicide operatives, was forced by circumstances in the field to leave the car-bomb in order to pursue the embassy guard, and his partner activated the detonation mechanism and completed the mission.
- As I
understand, the working in pairs is a trademark of Al-Qaeda, and I do not see
this practice in
- Certainly, if you speak on Beslan or Dubrovka, there were required larger groups, but it was simply because of the larger scale of assault.
- We have the point of view, that drugs can be used for training of suicide bombers...
- I heard
there was people in Beslan
under the action of drugs. But I can’t verify this information. However, in
- What’s the role of family in the selection a potential suicide bomber?
- Again, it
is a more complicated. Unfortunately, frequently the influence of brothers,
cousins is important for the future suicide terrorists. From other side, in
- What’s the difference?
- Suicide bombers are those who are with explosive belts and self sacrifice can be those who wished to dies as martyrs but used AK47 or M16 and there fore are not "regular" suicide bombers .
we see temporary decline of the activity of suicide bombers in
- It is necessary to remember the role of public opinion. I’m not sure Chechen society supports suicidal terrorism. But I think, this will continue.
- If think
you are right, I don’t think Chechen society supports more the capture of
children in Beslan, than the suicide attacks in
- Yes, but there is a distance between two groups of terrorists, for example, Al-Qaeda does not so worry about public opinion as Palestinians.
- When you talked with the Palestinian terrorists, can you estimate the influence of Chechen propaganda?
- I don’t
see the tracks of this propaganda in
- But the tracks of the Chechen propaganda are revealed in European muslim extremists.
- There is large distance between by
Palestinian “martyrs” and by European islamists.
To the Islamic young people in
- As I know, you don’t agree with the estimates of Al-Qaeda in Rohan Gunaratna’s interview, published at Agentura.Ru. What’s the main point?
discussion deals with the views on the globalization of terrorism, future of
Al-Qaeda and the response of the international community. My main disagreement
is that not only Gunaratna, which I highly value, but
and other experts believe, that Qaeda has transformed from a group into a
movement. In fact Al-Qaeda is still the terrorist group, which uses suicide
terrorists, personally selected and trained. Al Qaeda succeeded in delegating it doctrine to many youngster
who have been trained in their sponsored training camps in
- However we see Al-Qaeda can't organize another attack similar to 9/11 in US, and it let us suggest what it may be changing of tactics…
- Al Qaeda
had done only few attacks by its hard core members as they perceive themselves
as a role model. They do not need to do so many. Still they have encouraged some
of the deadliest attacks performed by others. They definitely wish to do