Islamic extremists carried out nearly every suicide terror attack in the world during the year 2015, and the number of women and young girls among them grew exponentially, according to a reportfrom the Institute for National Security Studies.
In the wake of last week’s Brussels attacks and the Easter-Day Massacre in Lahore, 2016 is shaping up to be a tremendous year for suicide attacks, and they bear similar characteristics to those found throughout 2015.
A research team from the Institute for National Security Studies (INSS), an Israeli think tank, found that there were a total of 452 suicide terror attacks during 2015, and of these, a remarkable 450 were perpetrated by Muslim extremists. This means that more than 99 percent of all suicide terror attacks in the world were carried out by Muslims.
A key component emerging from these attacks is the central religious motivation behind them, as so dramatically evidenced by the Taliban’s recent declaration that the Easter-Day Massacre specifically targeted Christians.
The INSS report underscored the growth of the number of suicide attacks over recent years, due to their ability to “establish deterrence and create an impression of power” for the organizations behind them, especially as it demonstrates the willingness of group members to “make the ultimate sacrifice” to achieve their goals.
The report took into account only those suicide attacks that could be independently verified and treated combined attacks against a number of targets as a single event (e.g., the attack in Paris on November 13 was counted as one attack).
By these criteria, the 452 suicide attacks that took place during 2015 throughout the world, carried out by some 735 male and female terrorists in 22 countries, claimed the lives of approximately 4,370 people.
During the year 2015, two trends in suicide terrorism stood out in a particular way: the astronomical increase in the number of suicide attacks in Africa (a growth of 157 percent) and the surge in the use of women and young girls as suicide bombers. In Nigeria, for instance, there were 96 suicide attacks in 2015 compared with only 32 such attacks in 2014.
The number of women and girls carrying out these attacks rose dramatically, from only 13 suicide attacks carried out by women in West Africa in 2014 as compared with 66 suicide attacks in 2015, or approximately five times as many.
The report found that suicide attacks are both a “functional and symbolic means of warfare for many large Salafi jihadist terrorist organizations operating throughout the world.” They are perpetrated principally by Islamist organizations identified with the idea of global jihad, and primarily but not exclusively affiliated with the Islamic State.
The nearly perfect correlation between suicide terrorism and Islamic extremism lends credence to the growing perception that lethal violence against non-believers is an intrinsic component of Islam itself.
In a recent USA Today article, former Muslim Nabeel Qureshi advanced the thesis that “ISIL’s primary recruiting technique is not social or financial but theological.” The strategy is working, Qureshi contends, because the highest sources of authority in Islam — the Quran and hadith — support the idea that Muslims have the duty to fight against the enemies of Islam and to emigrate to the Islamic State once it has been established.
When Muslims read their central texts, he asserts, “they are confronted with the reality of violent jihad in the very foundations of their faith.”
As impolitic as it may seem, in light of a growing body of evidence, it appears increasingly probable that the roots of Islamic extremism are contained within Islam itself.