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The cartoons and contemplations of a twentysomething copy editor.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

The twisted logic of suicide bombers

Three people blew themselves up at three separate hotels yesterday in Amman, the Jordanian capital. The Grand Hyatt, Regency SAS and Radisson hotels each suffered explosions. Fifty-seven people died and 115 have been injured.

Hotels, and luxury housing in general, have become the new target for terrorists. Among the attacks: On July 23 of this year, two suicide car bombs and a planted bomb killed at least 83 people and injured 200 at the Ghazala Gardens Hotel in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh. On Oct. 7, 2004, terrorists bombed the Taba Hilton in Egypt and nearby resort areas.

In Israel and Iraq the murderers from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and al-Qaeda blow themselves and others to smithereens in marketplaces. Witness the Oct. 26 suicide bombing at a felafel stand in an open-air market in Hadera. There appears to be a difference when suicide bombers operate in countries that they may not see as "occupied." To them, Israel (which, of course, is merely a pretext for Palestine) and Iraq are both "occupied" -- Israel by the Israelis, Iraq by the Americans. Why do they focus on public spaces in occupied places and private property in Muslim nations?

Let's look at what they want. Obviously it would be ideal for them if they could shatter the Israeli government and drive the Americans out of Iraq. So they kill shoppers in public spaces and soldiers outside bus stations to deflate confidence in the ruling authorities.

In Muslim nations, it's a different occupier that the terrorists seek to drive out: the foreign presence. The hotels blown up in Jordan, and the ones in Egypt, are popular spots for tourism, including Israeli visitors. The terrorists' goal is to expel all foreign visitors from Muslim soil, and so they adjust their plans accordingly.

Western liberals, a group with which I identify, say that the best way to unite people from two hostile cultures is to encourage more interchange between them. The terrorists' attempt to sabotage this interchange shows that this sounds easier than it is.


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