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The Myth of Martyrdom: What Really Drives Suicide Bombers, Rampage Shooters, and Other Self-Destructive Killers (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 22. Januar 2013

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"The book is fascinating for its de-tailed examinations of a range of suicidal attacks and its syntheses of the motives of a disparate group of killers. Lankford challenges the thinking that has dominated public discussion since 9/11 in a highly readable way...The Myth of Martyrdom is a valuable contribution to America's quest to stop mass killings." - Anna Fifield, Financial Times "A fierce attack on the view that suicide terrorists are true martyrs to a cause, worthy of respect or honor because of their commitment." - Kirkus Reviews "In The Myth of Martyrdom, Adam Lankford demonstrates that suicide-murderers who call themselves martyrs are actually suicidal. Like many important ideas, this one seems utterly obvious once someone presents the overwhelming evidence and makes the compelling argument. As Lankford shows, terrorists are motivated by a lot more than the ideologies they espouse - including their emotions. In short, terrorists are people. A critically important contribution to the literature and, one hopes, to our counter-terrorism." - Jessica Stern, former Director of Russian Affairs, National Security Council, and author of Terror in the Name of God: Why Religious Militants Kill "A provocative and eye-opening look at the psychological forces that drive suicide terrorists to seek their own destruction." - Peter Langman, author of Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters "A lively, insightful, and evidence-based analysis of the most disruptive phenomenon in world affairs today. Adam Lankford challenges the conventional wisdom about suicide terrorism in a way that respects the facts, resolves the paradox (with profound implications for many other issues), and not least, de-romanticizes this loathsome practice." - Steven Pinker, Harvard College Professor of Psychology, Harvard University, and author of The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined 'Revealing long overlooked truths about suicide terrorists, Adam Lankford offers a compelling and provocative account, profoundly challenging conventional wisdom. Anyone who wants to fully understand the threat we face must read this powerful book.' - Ken Ballen, author of Terrorists in Love: True Life Stories of Islamic Radicals 'At last an insightful book about martyrdom and suicide bombers. Too many so-called experts have dominated the stage without ever examining the life of a suicide bomber. Lankford, in a thorough and in-depth study, has identified the trauma, chronic depression and suicidal behavior that characterize their lives. This is a fascinating book with profound implications.'-David Lester, past president of the International Association for Suicide Prevention "A coherent, must read for all who would claim to be experts in terrorism-or just curious. Dr. Lankford's analytic rigor and willingness to examine assumptions make this a textbook example of how to do research and analysis. His conclusions? Suicidal martyrs are not heroes to be admired, but sick people to be pitied. Those who direct them are nothing more than evil. As Keynes once wrote: 'When someone persuades me I am wrong; I change my mind.' What will you do?"-Jim Simon, former Asst. Director of Central Intelligence for Administration, Central Intelligence Agency, and Chair, Homeland Security Intelligence Council "More than a decade after the 9/11 attack, scholars and commentators are still offering alternative explanations as to why the plotters were willing to commit suicide. Were they heroic martyrs so dedicated to cause of Islamic Jihad that they were willing to die? Or were they so mentally unbalanced that they wanted to die because their lives had become too depressing, too much filled with anxiety and failure? Adam Lankford explores these hypotheses, not only as they apply to the 9/11 plotters, but also to school shooters, airplane hijackers, lone wolf bombers and the like. In a must-read book for those interested in these issues, he makes the case for the second hypothesis. He provides a benchmark that others will have to consider as they seek to reach their own conclusions." - Donald Daniel, security studies professor, Georgetown University, and former Special Adviser to the Chairman, National Intelligence Council

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

ADAM LANKFORD is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at The University of Alabama, USA. His research has been featured by media outlets such as Foreign Policy, The Daily Beast, CNN, NPR, The Atlantic, and The Boston Globe. From 2003 to 2008, Lankford helped coordinate anti-terrorism efforts in conjunction with the US State Department's Anti-Terrorism Assistance program. Lankford has written for The Huffington Post, Foreign Policy, and is the author of Human Killing Machines. He lives in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.


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Overambitious Conclusions From an Interesting Study 5. März 2013
Von Zubair Qamar - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
In SUMMARY, I identified the following ISSUES in Lankford's book:

Lankford's sample of about 130 suicide terrorists is a "convenience" or "opportunity" sample that cannot be used to extrapolate generalizations about the general population of suicide terrorists. Every basic statistics student knows this. For example, regarding convenience sampling, W. Lawrence Neuman's "Basics of Social Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Approaches" (CR 2012) states:

"Unfortunately,[convenience sampling] often produces very nonrepresentative samples. It is not recommended if you want to create an accurate sample to represent the population" (p.147).

Yet, Lankford continues to conjecture on the main population of suicide terrorists from his unrepresentative sample, and says that they are mainly psychologically abnormal. This is a violation of basic statistics and a reliance on faith over meaningful statistical extrapolation. Had Lankford used a random sample, for example, his conclusions would have been taken more seriously if the results demonstrated this.

The sample may have double-counted some suicide terrorists, as stated by Lankford in his own words in footnote-61, Chapter-3:

"All efforts have been made to reduce the chances of redundancy. However, since some of these individuals are not identified by name, it is possible that a few cases appear on this list more than once" (p.208).

This means we don't know how many suicide terrorists really are in Lankford's unrepresentative sample. There may be far less than 130.

When I read the list of suicide terrorists in Appendix- A (p.177), I counted the following:

*10 unidentified males,
*8 unidentified females,
*1 unidentified sixteen-year-old boy,
*5 multiple unidentified attackers (stated 5 times, each with multiple attackers),
*Multiple teenage boys stated one time (with names unknown).

According to the above, at least 30 suicide terrorists from Lankford's sample are unidentified. Lankford fails to mention these details in his book. Following from the previous point, such ambiguity makes for a less serious sample. Nobody knows if these attackers really existed or not, and it is easy to manufacture evidence in view of such ambiguity.

It is curious why Lankford lists Mir Aimal Kasi as a suicide terrorist. After killing CIA staff in 1993, Kasi fled to Pakistan, was later found, and executed in 2002 by the US government. He never attempted suicide. Why did Lankford label Kasi as a suicide terrorist?

In summary, the SAMPLE PROBLEMS are:

*Non-probability sampling (convenience sampling): Using an unrepresentative sample to generalize about the main population of suicide terrorists (violation of basic statistics);
*Undetermined/unidentified names and number of suicide terrorists in the unrepresentative sample due to possibility of double (or more) counting;
*Gaps in an already unrepresentative sample make the sample even less convincing and prone to fabricated data;
*List of 'suicide terrorists' in the sample has names of people who did NOT commit suicide, i.e. Mir Aimal Kasi. How many non-suicidal terrorists like Kasi have been listed as "suicide terrorists" by Lankford in his unrepresentative sample?

Lankford's risk assessment of Mohamed Atta and other 9/11 hijackers is mainly based on soft indicators like hopelessness, guilt and shame, etc. which are common to millions of people, therefore rendering them almost meaningless in differentiating between those who are likely to commit suicide from those who are not. Stronger indicators (like past suicide attempts) is virtually absent in Lankford's analysis and risk assessment. His "psychological autopsies" and conclusions are therefore highly subject to false positives. Also, the "evidence" Lankford uses can yield opposite conclusions.

Lankford criticizes many scholars, including Robert Pape. He accused Pape of ignoring the suicidal dimension of terrorists, whereas Pape concluded from his research that, "the data shows less than 5 percent of suicide attackers experience major depression associated with ordinary suicide." Lankford misrepresents the scholars he criticizes. Lankford is also unable to explain one of Pape's interesting findings:

"While mental illness and ordinary suicides occur in every country at fairly constant rates, suicide attacks are highly concentrated in specific areas of foreign occupation - typically starting when the occupation begins and sharply declining when it ends - patterns that strongly refute mental illness as a major cause as they confirm the main findings of Cutting the Fuse."

According to Lankford's logic, this should mean that leaving occupation decreases mental abnormalities in the population. Yet, Lankford needs evidence to illustrate this. He provides no evidence. Lankford has also not examined Pape's sample. Therefore, he cannot know if he is correct or not. Yet, Lankford claims that Pape is incorrect.

Lankford forms subjective understandings of terms from which he bases his analyses. While saying that "heroism" cannot be attributed to anyone who kills, including suicide terrorists, he fails to mention how other scholars differed. David Lester, for example, used Zimbardo's definition of "hero" and said: "It all depends on your definition of a hero. In my note, I use Zimbardo's, and I reckon that some suicide bombers could fit his definition." Using this understanding, there need not be a "myth of martyrdom" or myth of heroism.

Lankford says not to believe the words of terrorists at face value, yet forms some of his understandings based on their statements. For example, he says,

"By definition, this...means that their attacks cannot be considered a true `sacrifice,' because the suicide terrorists are not forfeiting `something highly valued.' Even according to their own statements, they are trading something they put low value on (their lives in this transient, unhappy, and corrupt world) for something they value highly (heaven and paradise). There is nothing noble or brave about that kind of bargain" (p.8).

Even according to their own statements? I thought their statements should not be taken at face value. Lankford uses them only when it suits his perspective.

(9) ODD STATEMENTS (Three examples):

(a) Lankford classifies "conventional," "coerced," "escapist," and "indirect" people who kill themselves as "suicide terrorists" (p.130). Yet, most or many terrorism experts relate such violence to mainly political goals. Lankford's definition seems to entrap many suicidal people with the "terrorist" label and contradict the definitions of terrorism held by most experts. Even members of the Jim Jones cult who drank poison are classified as "terrorists"!

(b) Lankford uses social stigmas and Islam in the Arab region as negative influences that force people to commit suicide. This, in spite of the fact that the social and religious norms can act as positive influences and minimize the probability of suicide terrorism. See, for example, the work of Ziad Kronfol, a psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College in Qatar, who discusses this. This paints an incomplete and distorted picture of Arabs and their culture, and omits the effects/nuances of multiple variables on human behavior.

(c) Lankford says: "The raw materials for prolonged suicide terrorism campaigns are virtually all here. In the United States, approximately thirty-four thousand people commit suicide each year. So there is plenty of suicidal intent to harness, along with tens of thousands of people who could be coerced into becoming suicidal" (p.166). This is alarmism. Lankford does not explain how thousands of Americans can be coerced into becoming suicidal.

Most recommendations have already been stated by countless scholars before him, and can be included in recommendations to counter terrorism in general. Lankford has too much faith in Matthew Nock's five-minute computer test, which can detect individuals who have attempted suicide in the past, and predict which individuals are likely to commit suicide within six months (p.171). While praising this technology, Lankford stretches its utility by saying, "This could be an incredibly powerful security screening tool for identifying anyone who is contemplating a suicide attack" (p.172). But predicting suicide and predicting suicide attacks are two different matters -- not the same!

Lankford's assessment is limited to the psychiatric realm without offering an equally substantial treatment of other possible causes of suicide.It is surprising that the effects of military occupation, befriending of regimes with poor human rights records, and poor economic growth and prosperity in certain majority Muslim regions have little to no consideration in Lankford's analysis of suicide terrorism. Neither does religion and ideology. A more detailed analysis of social-cultural factors is also missing. This makes Lankford's analysis incomplete and his conclusions premature.

Lankford extrapolates premature generalizations of suicide terrorists from a small, unrepresentative sample of some 130(?) or so suicide terrorists. This can lead to an incorrect understanding of the motivations of most suicide terrorists, as well as of effective ways to counter them. Moreover, it can also absolve those terrorists who commit premeditated acts of violence to maim and murder by labeling them psychologically unstable.

It is recommended that Lankford's conclusions not be accepted at this time until further research determines otherwise. While a segment of suicide terrorists is indeed psychologically deranged, the overwhelming majority of studies by other scholars do not support Lankford's conclusions that many or most suicide terrorists are suicidal due to abnormal psychology.

[See my complete review of Lankford's book in the new issue of the Perspectives on Terrorism journal (Vol.7; No.1; 2013), available at "terrorismanalysts-dot-com"]
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Mind = blown. (No pun intended!) 1. Februar 2013
Von Ashley - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Suicide bombers are actually suicidal. Such a simple concept that, for some reason, has never been discussed as the actual motivation for these terrorists. Dr. Lankford's book "Myth of Martyrdom" challenges the conventional wisdom regarding suicide bombers -- they aren't sacrificial victims of the cause, but potentially just looking for a way 'out' that is acceptable in their society. It's an extremely interesting and important argument that has the potential to change the way we deal with, and prepare, for these types of attacks.
(1) Families and friends can report suspicious innuendo or overt intent on behalf of loved ones to do harm to themselves and oth 17. November 2014
Von Billie Pritchett - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
Adam Lankford's Myth of Martyrdom makes a compelling case that suicide bombers and other suicide terrorists and rampage shooters and other self-destructive killers are basically suicidal people who want to do either as a result of coercion, a desire for escapism, as an indirect means to get killed themselves, or out of a deep sense of personal shortcomings vis-a-vis the world at large. For example, the kamikaze pilots in WWII were beaten within an inch of their lives to commit suicide via kamikaze air attacks and sometimes the abuse was so severe they killed themselves prior to ever flying missions, and so they were coerced into doing it. Adolf Hitler, seeing the collapse of the Third Reich around him, killed himself as a means to escape. Several other people have committed suicide in a classic "suicide-by-police officer" fashion, essentially killing others with the hopes that they will be killed by police or someone else. And the final type is the conventional type, who while appearing to kill themselves and other people for some grand or social reason really do it out of a fear of their own shortcomings or misfortunes, or what have you, in life.

Lankford writes that with regard suicide attacks, the killer/suicidal person need only have the intent to kill himself, have some access to weapons, and have access to whomever he perceives as enemy targets. And that's it. He argues that too long have governments focused on additional non-essential facilitators to terrorism, such as the intent to kill others, a terrorist organization to sponsor the attacks, and stigmatization of conventional suicide and/or social approval of suicide attacks.

Lankford proposes a solution to identify people who might be inclined to commit suicide attacks. They are the following: (1) Families and friends can report suspicious innuendo or overt intent on behalf of loved ones to do harm to themselves and other people, including perhaps if they have a preoccupation with suicide or terrorism or both. (2) Government officials, as well as friends and families, could keep a close eye on loved ones' internet activity to see if anything someone implies or directly states is related to the intent of suicide attacks. (3) There is also a test that could be administered, a modified Stoop test (you can search for it online) that indicates a person's favor or lack thereof toward suicide or suicidal tendencies. Finally, (4) suicide attacks should be publicly socially stigmatized and not viewed as in any way heroic; rather, these attacks should be presented as weak, desperate, and so on, knocking down the culture or suicide attacks down to what crazy or weak people do so as not to promote more of it.

I've written too much. You should read the book.
insights into the terrorist mind 21. Februar 2014
Von A. Hawkins - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Any attempt to get "into the mind" of a group of individuals is fraught with risk, but this is a very thought provoking read and well presented.
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Martyrdom Myth Mayhem Modifies Minds 24. März 2013
Von happygeezer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
I was doing research for an article on gun control and mass murder rampages and found this book to be very informative in substantiating my hypothesis that headline grabbing gunmen are at heart suicidal individuals with a grudge against society.
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