x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

The Myth of Martyrdom challenges what motivates suicide attacks

Adam Lankford, an American academic, boldly challenging conventional ideas about the motivating factors behind suicide attacks.

The Myth of Martyrdom
The Myth of Martyrdom

The Myth of Martyrdom
Adam Lankford
Palgrave Macmillan
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What makes a person strap on a vest packed with explosives and blow himself and a restaurant full of people to smithereens?

Boldly challenging conventional ideas about the motivating factors behind suicide attacks, Adam Lankford, an American academic, answers that question in The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, School Shooters and Other Self-Destructive Killers.

Lankford's chief contention is that suicide attackers, far from being martyrs or soldiers for a religious/political cause or homicidal lunatics, are in most cases just plain suicidal - otherwise normal people who are driven to self-destruction by depression, fear, anxiety, grief or personal failure.

Accepting this fact is the key to developing an effective prevention strategy, says Lankford, one that emphasises recognising when people are suicidal and intervening before their condition is, for example, exploited by a terrorist organisation. Lankford makes a convincing case that is well supported by studies and anecdotal evidence, but tries too hard to convince readers that his theory is universally applicable.