Are they among us?

Not aliens... suicide bombers

Linton P

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

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We have all by now forgotten the tragedy that occurred last Easter Sunday in Sri Lanka, a country which, like Jamaica, is a member of the Commonwealth. We should not, however, fail to make an effort to understand how it came that wealthy, comfortable, educated, young men committed a most gruesome act of suicide.

The young men who carried out the bombing were not all ordinary, uneducated, poor members of society. Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohammed, one of the suicide bombers, was a highly educated young man in his 30s. He attended Kingston University in the United Kingdom then proceeded to Australia, where he did postgraduate studies at Melbourne University.

Inshat Ahamed Ibrahim was a successful businessman who had his own business and also worked in his father's export business. His father exported spice among other products. So successful was Inshat in the business of export that he was presented with the Presidential Export Award. Not only was he a wealthy young man, he was married into a wealthy family and lived in a very luxurious house, drove expensive motor vehicles, and wore Western clothing.

His younger brother, Ilham Ibraham, is the one who was seen entering the Shangri-La Hotel in a very pleasant mood with a large knapsack on his back and another knapsack in his hand. He was, the next morning, seen leaving the elevator of the hotel going towards the restaurant, again with a smile on his face showing him to be a pleasant, happy young man. He blew himself up in the hotel killing a number of people.

When Ilham was identified police quickly visited the luxurious mansion in which he lived with his pregnant wife and three children. His pregnant wife detonated a bomb killing her “pregnant self”, her three children, and three of the officers who were part of the raiding party at the mansion.

These three suicide bombers belonged to some of the wealthiest families in Sri Lanka. They were highly educated. Their wealth placed them in the upper echelon of their society. And, from all indications, they had a comfortable life ahead of them.

What on Earth then could have caused these three young men and these other suicide bombers to take such a drastic, fanatical action? What is the convincing or influential factor that brought these young men to the stage at which, despite their life of comfort and luxury, they opted for what was in their minds is a 'better life' — a life of sudden, awesome, macabre, instant death.

We are accustomed to making fun of suicide bombers by saying they are killing themselves to go to “heaven” to received seven virgins. However, the situation desires a more serious and thorough analysis; if for no reason, in order to guide our national policy in anticipation of any such development occurring in our country.

Should we discuss these young men as being part of the lunatic fringe element or should we just dismiss them as being psychologically imbalanced or retarded? It must be more than that. The better view of these suicide bombers is that they are committed to a religious precept of which their religious leaders have managed to convince them.

In nearly all known instances of suicide bombing there is a minder. This is the person who controls the conduct of the suicide bombers and the person who has convinced them to proceed with the ultimate and devastating act. The minder is careful to select individuals who, even if highly educated and wealthy, have some conflict with the values of society or what they perceive to be a wrong direction society is going in. These are people who can live amongst us as ordinary citizens with no signs of violent or terrorist inclinations and in consequence of this when they carry out their acts neighbours are usually surprised to hear such a person was involved.

If we are to take time to listen to the minder communicating with the suicide bombers who bombed the hotels in Mumbai, India, in the 2008, we would find it instructive that the minder could get the bombers to carry out any act even though the acts being carried out were likely to cause danger, including death, to the bombers themselves. The minder was even encouraging one of the young bombers in Mumbai to keep fighting and killing until he, the bomber, had been killed. How does one achieve such control over the mind of another?

Are we prepared to conclude that there is no fertile ground in Jamaica for suicide bombers? Or should we view several of our young men who pick up guns and indulge in dangerous and reckless shoot-outs with each other and with members of the security forces as potential candidates for suicide bombing?

Are our security organisations on top of all activities in Jamaica so that any cultivating of suicide bombers can be identified and pre-emptive actions taken? Should we ignore the idea of suicide bombers as not likely to happen on the shores of Jamaica, or should we study how young men and young women are influenced and brought to such a stage where they are prepared to blow up themselves in pursuit of religious and other beliefs?

Whatever view we take of this matter, and whatever opinion we hold regarding suicide bombing, it is time for us to pay more than passing attention to the activity and to accept that all countries, including Jamaica, have people who can be influenced to commit serious criminal activities including suicide bombings.

We should, therefore, study and assess all trends we see and determine whether these are signs that suicide bombers are being groomed in our country.

We should also keep looking closely at all arrivals on our shores to see if there are potential suicide bombers. The security forces owe it to us to be on the alert. We the citizens also owe it to ourselves to be alert and to bring to the attention of the security forces any sign of individuals showing the slightest indication that they could be suicide bombers.

Linton P Gordon is an attorney-at-law. Send comments to the Observer or

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