Foreign Armies, Not Religion, Motivate Suicide Bombers

It's all about the troops, say researchers
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 22, 2010 6:31 PM CDT
In this image made from television, the wreckage of a car destroyed in a suicide car attack is seen in a square outside a market in Vladikavkaz, North Caucasus, Russia, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010.   (AP Photo/AP Television News)

(Newser) – The idea that suicide bombers around the world are motivated by religious zealotry is wrong, writes a University of Chicago researcher, who says their main motivation is to drive out foreign troops. Robert Pape and his colleagues analyzed the approximately 2,200 suicide attacks on which records exist since 1980 and concluded that it's misguided to blame them on religious extremism, and Muslim fundamentalism in particular.

As a result, we should be "asking whether our military presence in Afghanistan and continued campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan are making us safer," writes Pape in the Los Angeles Times. "Unfortunately, our research suggests just the opposite. ... To continue on the current path is to ignore the causal link between foreign occupation and terrorism, which will make it less likely that we will be able to eradicate this threat in the years ahead."

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